A big SHOUT OUT to those who have donated their time and have made this possible:
As we continue this important work to support FOOD JUSTICE in our community, we need your help. Please make a donation to our Emergency Appeal today. Every gift is meaningful!
During this time of social distancing, Temple Shaaray Tefila has remained steadfast in our commitment to help our neighbors dealing with food insecurity. Rabbi Sarah Reines and congregant Carol Crossen have been helming our effort to create a safe, socially distanced and appropriate way to continue to get food to those who need it most through our food insecurity programs: Backpack Buddies, Soup Kitchen, and Sandwich Saturdays. We asked Rabbi Reines to reflect on the sacred nature of this work.
Do you find yourself lost in this amorphous sea of time, forgetting what day or week it is? It happens that counting days is a Jewish practice for this period between Passover and Shavuot, known as The Omer. Agriculturally, the ritual of “Counting the Omer” gave shape to the weeks spanning the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. The ancient Israelites, dependent upon the land for sustenance, numbered these days with anticipation, as they revelled in the growth of these crops after a season of rigorous labor and a season of patient waiting. They understood the precious value of food in a way that we often take for granted.
After we were separated from our land and no longer worked as farmers, the tradition of counting the Omer expanded to include teachings from a text called Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Ancestors. Our sages wanted us to keep counting, and to also meditate on some seemingly simple but essential truths. One of those teachings is mitzvah goreret mitzvah—one good deed leads to another.
Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. This teaching reminds us that the impulse of performing good deeds grows with practice. At this time when so much has changed, we must focus on maintaining our involvement with social justice. As more and more people are having a tougher time affording and accessing food, TST is continuing the mitzvah of providing nourishment for our neighbors. Though we can no longer serve guests a sit-down meal in our building, we open our doors once a week so that a core of staff and volunteers can continue to realize the mission of our Soup Kitchen, Backpack Buddies and Sandwich Saturdays programs.
Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. We are led by the indefatigable Carol Crossen, who heads also leads a cadre of congregants of all ages who help provide individuals and families with food. When one of us takes on this responsibility, more of us jump in and join.
Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. On one day, more than a dozen congregants over a period of 6 shifts to inventory, prepare, package, and deliver meals to households and food pantries. You can see from the pictures above how we safely, efficiently and joyfully (there are smiles beneath those masks) create a chain of action. mitzvah goreret mitzvah.
Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. We couldn’t do this without our maintenance staff. These unsung heroes arrive early in the morning to make some of the food and set it up for packaging, and at the end of the day they help to distribute lunches to the lines of people waiting to eat. This week, one man asked if we knew where he could get clothes. He didn’t have a warm jacket and his pants were dirty and worn. As I scrambled to find some scarves and hats in the building, a member of our maintenance staff took notes on what this man needed so that he could bring him some of his own clothes from home the following week. Mitzvah goreret mitzvah —performing one act of justice and goodness leads to performing another.