Tikkun Olam Monthly Report

May 2022

Our fellow congregants are engaged in tikkun olam (repairing the world) on many levels and in many ways. Join us in being inspired and consider joining in! See Tikkun Olam Opportunities for details and contact information for specific initiatives, or email tikkunolambethel@gmail.com if we’ve missed anything or if you don’t see contact info. Thanks to all for your important and holy work!

— Michelle Fineblum (VP, Tikkun Olam)

Grand opening of Women Empowerment House in Dorchester on April 19, 2022. Left to right: Beth El members Martin Brauer, Elaine Barnartt-Goldstein, Judy Goldberg and Karen Blumenfeld, with State Senator Jamie Eldridge (click image to enlarge).

Antiracism Working Group

  • On April 19, four members of the Antiracism Working Group attended the grand opening of Women Empowerment House in Dorchester. Last year, Executive Director Stacey Borden spoke at Beth El and we ran a household goods drive for Women Empowerment House spearheaded by Elaine Barnartt-Goldstein.
  • Our April monthly meeting featured discussion of an article by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein titled “What to the Black Jew is Passover?” Four discussion prompts (“Four Questions”) were provided, and participants were invited to donate to a cause of Dr. Prescod-Weinstein’s choice to compensate her for our use of her article.
  • Following the Board of Directors’ endorsement of an antiracism resolution, leaders of the Antiracism Working Group are continuing to work with board members, staff and clergy toward operationalizing the goal of becoming an antiracist congregation.
  • We are working with Beth El families of young children and the Director of Youth and Family education to expand the book offerings in the synagogue library to include broader representation.
  • Building on existing resource lists, we are assembling a list of resources with respect to hiring Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) and connecting with BIPOC-owned businesses as suppliers.

Contacts: Judy Goldberg and Karen Blumenfeld (antiracism@bethelsudbury.org). 

Sanctuary Committee

  • BE InSpirEd Refugee/Immigration Day with Ukrainian guest speaker Tania Vitvitsky — Sunday, May 15 at 10:00 a.m. Beth El’s religious school program, BE InSpirEd, will include a read-aloud program featuring books about refugee and being “a stranger in a strange land.” Vitvitsky, an American citizen in Sudbury who was born in Ukraine, will be speaking about the recent history of Ukraine and Russia, what is going on now, and what people like us can do (and are doing ) to help.

Parents of children who are attending BE InSpirEd that day are invited to hear Tania’s talk in person. Everyone else is cordially invited to attend remotely — click here to join Zoom.

In conjunction with this program, the Beth El Sanctuary Committee asks for your help supporting Jewish Family Services of Metrowest as they prepare for the newest refugee arrivals. Here is a list of goods that JFS seeks: 

  • New (in original packages) men’s underwear
  • New (in original packages) men’s socks
  • New (in original packages) children’s socks (all sizes) 
  • Gently used (clean, no rips, etc.) children’s clothes
  • Boys’ shirts, shorts, size pre-K to grades 5/6 (seasonal needs) 
  • Girls’ tops, shorts, age 6- 12 (no jeans) 
  • Packages of disposable diapers, all sizes 
  • Packages of pull-ups (larger sizes: 3,4,5) 
  • Children’s books (all ages)

For info on legislative action, contact Kath Bean. For info on the Ayala family, contact Judy Katz or Judy Sletzinger. For info on Friday afternoon standouts or other Committee activities, contact Carl Offner.

Combating Antisemitism Task Force

  • Thank you to Beth El’s board for accepting the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance)’s Working Definition of Antisemitism on behalf of the congregation: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” To combat antisemitism, it is important to establish a common definition. This definition has been accepted by over 450 entities, including the UN, many countries, local jurisdictions, and organizations, including the URJ, CCAR, and the Anti-Defamation League.
  • To combat extremist hate, we have set out to build an interfaith and secular network of support – initially in our town, and then more widely. By bringing together groups who don’t regularly interact but who often share common values (including, but not limited to, faith-based groups), we will build a powerful community that will speak out strongly against incidents or statements that impact any of us. Our theme is “I’ve Got Your Back” and our upbeat unifying events are characterized as “Interdependence Days” starting June 19, 2022 (Juneteenth). We’re happy to report that the ADL/URJ has fully funded a grant proposal we submitted for this work. More info to come!
  • We continue to send our support to targets of hate — including antisemitism — and have developed a process for contacting numerous organizations in the event of a local incident we wish to publicize. We are also building a list of Metrowest antisemitism contacts with a view to taking action as a group, and to build on our own pilot event.

Please send any questions or comments to Task Force co-chairs Martin Brauer or Andy Goldberg. New members are always welcome!

Inclusion Committee

  • The gender-neutral restroom committee has completed its work and presented to the board. The board passed a motion to build a gender-neutral restroom by September 2023. The next step is for Jerry Kazin, VP of Tzibur, to present the options to the board for configurations of the restrooms.
  • The Inclusion Committee is working hard on collaborative projects with other congregations in the area for mental health programming next year. They are waiting to hear back on a CJP mental health grant as well.
  • Carrie Fuchs and Maxine Haron will be taking over as co-chairs of the Inclusion Committee on July 1, 2022.

For more information about the Inclusion Committee, contact Susan Tohn.

Green Team

  • Whooee! All you Sudbury residents – well done! At Town Meeting on May 4, you declared a climate emergency and approved hiring a Sustainability Director.
  • On Wednesday, May 18 from 7-8 p.m., come learn about induction stoves. The Jewish Climate Action Network is collaborating with Energize Wayland, Lincoln Green EnergyEnergize LexingtonHarvard Energize, and Green Newton on a Zoom learning event on the climate-friendly alternative to gas stoves. If you cook with gas, you may not be aware of the drawbacks. Burning gas releases nitrogen dioxide, small particulate matter, and carbon monoxide, all components of air pollution. Cooking on a gas stove increases kids’ risk of current asthma by 42 percent. Ventilation can work well to remove air pollution but only if the exhaust hood over the gas stove is strong enough, if it vents outdoors, and you remember to use it. When your stove is ready for replacement, your best bet is to replace it with an electric or induction stove. An induction stove is not your usual electric stove. Andee Krasner (Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-author with Rocky Mountain Institute of a report on gas stoves) will talk about the health risk of gas cooking. Neighbor testimonials who use induction and lots of time for Q&A. Click here to learn more and register.
  • On Monday, May 23 from 7:30–8:30 p.m., Beth El’s Green Team, in collaboration with MassEnergize, will present a Zoom evening on sustainable gardening for your home. Jessica Baker, a Beth El member, certified master gardener and volunteer at Garden in the Woods, will talk about how we can reduce our carbon footprint, support the local ecosystem, improve air and water quality, and still create beautiful spaces. She’ll discuss the principles of sustainable landscaping and steps every home gardener can take to help the environment. Again, testimonials and time for your questions! See the attached flyer to learn more. Contact Michelle Fineblum if you want to register. Contact Linda Klein if you’ve questions.
  • Do you live in Sudbury? Have you signed up for clean green electricity? Check out Sudbury Community Electricity Aggregation and choose Sudbury Class 1 Green! It’s so easy. Right now, going green is cheaper than the electricity from Eversource (really)!
  • Check out other climate actions your household can take. Want ideas on what you can do? Contact John Harper to connect with a Green Team member. Join the GreenTeam listserv here.

Collection of Hygiene Products: Period. End of Sentence.

In coordination with Anita Diamant’s May 1 Adult Ed sponsored talk about her book, Period. End of Sentence: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Injustice, there was a discussion about local efforts to deal with this problem and a drive to collect personal hygiene and period products for distribution to those in need across greater Boston, through the nonprofit Hope & Comfort. Many of those attending the event donated much-needed products. If anyone is interested in donating products, they can be dropped off at the Sudbury Senior Center until May 13. Online donations can be made at Hope and Comfort and their wish list items can be ordered through their Amazon wish list.

For more information on period or hygiene poverty or ways to help, contact Deborah Oppenheimer or Hope & Comfort.

Tzedaka Hevra

  • At our April meeting, we heard about, discussed, and voted on groups to receive funding.

Are you interested in expanding the reach of your tzedakah but aren’t quite sure how? Our hevra meets every two months to learn about Jewish charitable organizations in the United States and Israel that are helping people and changing the world… and to enjoy a communal meal, because — Beth El. We currently fund about 25 charitable organizations and are looking ahead to next year, expecting an increasing need of our funds. During our meetings, we learn about and determine which organizations are worthy of our funding and reflect our priorities. We often hear directly from their representatives about the work they do, what they will do with our funds, and what they plan to do in the future. If you want to give but may not have time to research and understand enough about the wide range of charitable organizations in need of money, consider joining our hevra, which is open to any Beth El member. We welcome new members. For info, email Ira Silver.

MetroWest Free Medical Program

Go to this link for the most recent newsletter for the program’s latest updates. We are grateful to the many Beth El volunteers who play such a key role in the program! For more info, contact Beth El member Gary Hirsch.

Support and connection for Beth El members

Hevra Mishpacha, Beth El’s caring community initiative, continues to facilitate support between members of the congregation. If you or anyone you know would appreciate and/or benefit from a friendly call, a ride, a warm meal, an extra set of hands, or anything else you can think of, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Carol Sheingold or Jocylyn Bailin. If you’d like to volunteer to be part of the support network, please contact either of these two folks as well! 

Help for congregants who need food assistance

Any congregants who could use some food assistance should contact Deborah Oppenheimer directly; all information will be kept confidential. If any Sudbury resident needs assistance in getting pantry groceries delivered to them at home, that too can be arranged.

Blood drive

We hope to reschedule as soon as it is Covid-safe to do so. Anyone with questions may contact Jordan Oshlag.

Tzedek Scholarship Fund

We are proud of our current scholar, Laura Jaime Lopez. Laura plans to graduate in May with a BA in Criminology, a concrete step in her plan to become a Latina police officer. The Committee is preparing to review applications for Fall scholarship recipients. For info: Janet Buchwald (luckydog18@comcast.net).

Covid-19 support services from CJP

If COVID-19 has affected someone you know financially, the CJP WarmLine (800-CJP-9500) may be able to assist. With one phone call or by filling out a simple online form, trained Warmline counselors can begin to help navigate available services across the Jewish community. JewishBoston.com also has additional information about community resources during the COVID-19 crisis. Anyone feeling overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety or stress, or who wants to harm themselves or others, can access the mental health, emotional support and suicide prevention program Call2Talk by dialing 211, calling 508-532-2255, or texting C2T to 741741.

Covid-19 volunteer opportunities

Our community rises to the current Covid-19 challenge! The JCRC, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and others offer many volunteer opportunities. If you’re able to help, please take a look at their websites.