High Holiday Food drive
Beth El Tzedek Scholarship Fund
Repair the World
What can we do to help? That’s the question we constantly ask ourselves as Jews and Beth El members. Some things such as the need for food and medical care are always with us, while other needs arise depending on the current political and economic climate. Congregation Beth El has a longstanding commitment to social action – setting in motion the ideals and values of our traditions through deeds of justice and compassion. Our community offers wonderful opportunities to respond to the imperfections of our world by engaging in meaningful service. Want to get involved? Below are some of the recent ways Congregation Beth El practices tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charitable giving).
Beth El has hosted letter writing campaigns to free prisoners of conscience world wide, support human rights defenders and end urgent cases of human rights abuse.
Beth El Reading Partners
The Congregation Beth El Reading Partners team has been a member of the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy (GBJCL) since 1997. Dozens of Beth El literacy tutors from all walks of life have invested a rewarding hour or more a week enriching the lives of hundreds of kindergarten through fifth grade students at the Charlotte Dunning Elementary School in Framingham. Our volunteers draw on their backgrounds as speech pathologists, attorneys, social workers, English teachers and more to bring innovative approaches to tutoring. Whether stay-at-home moms, working professionals, or retirees, our team members have been lauded for their compassion and enthusiasm in working with reading-at-risk children.
Beth El Tzedek Scholarship Fund
The Beth El Tzedek Scholarship fund provides financial support to a deserving first generation immigrant students from the MetroWest area who have completed at least one semester at Framingham State University. To date, we have helped 3 students complete their undergraduate education and have 1 student who is a Junior continuing. Please consider making a contribution to this effort by writing a check to Congregation Beth El, with “Beth El Tzedek Scholarship Fund” written in the memo line, or donate here.
Building Homes for the Homeless
Dozens of Beth El members and friends turn out for semi-annual Build Days in support of Habitat for Humanity home construction projects. We help turn vacant land into homes for deserving families in our communities.To see a video of our recent project click here.
Beth El members contribute food, books, and other basic living necessities for local shelters at the High Holidays and throughout the year. At the High Holidays this year, Beth El contributed over two hundred grocery bags of food supplies and living necessities. Recipients included the Sudbury Community Food Pantry, A Place to Turn Natick, Family Table, and Voices against Violence. Through our electronic bulletin board, members share ways to make financial and other contributions towards ongoing community support and disaster relief.
Great Coffee, Great Cause!
Java Nagila is Beth El’s coffee-buying cooperative. Drink delicious shade-grown Arabica coffee at a competitive price, processed sustainably by small-holder farmers in Guatemala. Your coffee purchases help them to provide housing, nutrition, education and health care for their families. Beth El partners with De la GENTE which works with cooperatives of small-holder farmers from various Guatemalan regions.
Mass Incarceration Reform
Beth El was active in the successful passage of Massachusetts legislation to reform our state’s mass incarceration practices; we organized and hosted a community meeting and a meeting with our state legislators. Beth El hopes that there will be a national bill to publicize soon.
MetroWest Free Medical Program
Since 2004, Congregation Beth El has hosted the volunteers of the MetroWest Free Medical Program as they offer free health care services to our neighbors in need through a Tuesday evening clinic. Hundreds of volunteers, including licensed physicians, nurses, social workers, and other volunteers transform Beth El’s sanctuary into a walk-in medical program serving Metrowest residents who lack health insurance. In its 14 years of service, the MetroWest Free Medical Program has provided care to our community through more than 17,000 patients visits. We are proud to host this program, which was the first synagogue-based free medical program in the U.S. The program welcomes financial donations and volunteers to support this work. Visit MetroWest Free Medical Program to learn more and get involved.
Red Cross Blood Drives
Beth El hosts quarterly public blood drives in association with the American Red Cross. Beth El members volunteer as registration and canteen support staff. The next Beth El-hosted blood drive will be late this year. Visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/ to find the next blood drive closest to you. Literally, you can help save a life!
Sanctuary and Immigration Reform: Sanctuary at Work
Beth El voted in 2017 to become a Sanctuary Community for those who are threatened in the immigrant community. Among other current Tikun Olam initiatives, our congregation is helping a young Salvadoran family with two children that has applied for asylum. Although they are not in hiding they have very limited means. They are hardworking and proud and they are using their earnings to sustain the family and we have been supplementing their efforts. Beth El has created a fund to provide food and living needs assistance to and advocacy for vulnerable immigrants in our community. Please consider making a contribution to this effort by writing a check to Congregation Beth El, with “Sanctuary Project” written in the memo line or donate here.
Secret Gifts Box
There are many opportunities for observing the mitzvah of tzedakah (commandment for charitable giving) at Beth El. One is the Secret Gifts Box (Matan B’sayter) located outside the doors of the sanctuary. Matan B’sayter follows an ancient practice that began with the Second Temple, where there was a room where donors could enter, leave their gifts, and recipients could enter and take what they needed…all anonymously. The Secret Gifts Box is a tangible reminder that to be a Jew means giving to others. In this case, the tzedakah placed inside the box is secret: the donor does not know who receives it and the recipient does not know the identity of the donor.
Funds have been allocated to a wide range of charities including those dealing with disaster relief, individuals or families in need within or outside of Beth El, food pantries, housing for the elderly, services for children, and humanitarian relief. Congregants are encouraged not only to contribute but also to offer suggestions for future allocations to the committee.
Congregation Beth El co-founded and has continued to co-sponsor Students Together Opposing Prejudice to educate middle school and high school youth on how to identify and confront discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping. S.T.O.P. was founded in 1991 by our Director of Education, the Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Fatima, and the Assistant Minister at Sudbury United Methodist Church in response to an anti-semitic incident at a local elementary school. See STOP website for more information.
Voting for Social Justice
We advocate for social justice at the ballot box. Beth El endorses important pending social justice legislation and holds information meetings, and members sign letters, canvass, organize community support, and meet with legislators. Beth El members helped Sudbury pass a Welcoming Sudbury resolution at Town Meeting this spring. We now are working to pass Question #3 on the ballot in November. Question #3 will ask voters whether to uphold a 2016 state law protecting the civil rights of transgender people in public places. Beth El’s Board of Directors has voted unanimously to endorse a “Yes” vote. On October 21st, Beth El members is hosting an educational program happening entitled “Trans Rights = Human Rights, What’s at Stake in Ballot Question 3”. Click here for more information.
Transitional Support for the Homeless
Beth El members volunteer with Family Promise to provide assistance and support to homeless and low-income families in temporary need of housing, food assistance, and support to help them regain their housing, their independence, and their dignity.
Tzedakah Hevra — Charitable Giving Partnership
Tzedakah Hevra is a group of Beth El members who have joined together to pool their charitable resources, research charities, and distribute funds to Jewish charitable organizations, institutions and individuals. The Hevra was formed in 1979 to help members approach their tzedakah (charitable giving) in a meaningful way.
Following the 2016 Presidential election, Beth El members realized the need to come together for mutual support, share information on changing federal and state policies, and to mobilize for social action. Yachad group members share updates on multiple issues and opportunities each week via a dedicated Yachad list-serv.
To learn more or to get involved click on the link below.