Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities


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H2R Simchat Sukkot Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 7:30 PM

H2R Simchat Sukkot Flyer2014

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Rabbi for Human Rights in Seattle March 8-10

Rabbi Arik Ascherman will be visiting Seattle this weekend to spread the message about the organization that he co-founded in Israel,  Rabbi for Human Rights.  Rabbi Ascherman has visited Temple Beth Am a number of times over the past 15 years.  The NW Committee to Welcome Rabbi Arik invites you to a Fund Raiser Luncheon on March 8th, noon to 1:30 at Suite 6100 at the Columbia Tower.  Rabbi Ascherman will update about the work of RHR to support human rights of Israelis and Palestinians in Israel. There will be time for questions.  Contact Tom Buchanan if you are interested in attending at clrtom@earthlink.net.

Rabbi Ascherman will also speak at Rock the Shabbat service at Temple DeHirsch Sinai, 6pm, March 8 and will be co-leading Torah Study with Rabbi Jonathan at 9:15 AM at Temple Beth Am on Saturday, March 9.

Rabbi Arik  has always been a voice with feet on the ground, encompassing many camps whether it be  Israeli/Palestinian, Bedouin/Druze, Israelis in need of homes.  His presentations are always hopeful and  inspiring.


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Members of FAN Speak Out at 2013 IFAD

IFAD1Over 400 people from 43 of Washington state’s 49 Legislative Districts, from diverse faith traditions, came together in Olympia on February 20 to speak out with one voice for more just, compassionate state policies and laws.

Rabbi Jonathan and members of TBA at FAN’s 2013 Interfaith Advocacy Day February 20 in Olympia.

IFAD2
Attending From left to right Rabbi Jonathan Singer, Linda Harris, Ronnie Shur, Dina Burstein, Diane Baer, Margo MacVicar-Whelan, Jo Merrick, Tom Buchanan, Fred Diamondstone, Gail Nicholson, Jonis Davis; front row: Jacqueline Sorgen

Legislative briefings, workshops and district caucuses were held in the morning at the Church followed by meetings with district legislators in the afternoon at the Capital Building.

IFAD3
43rd Legislative District meetings Dina Burstein and Fred Diamondstone, together with upwards of 30 43rd Legislative District members met with State Senator Ed Murray as well as Representative Jamie Pedersen and House Speaker Frank Chopp. The message they carried focused on support for legislation to end Gun Violence, to support Budget and Revenue policies to protect social and health programs in the state, to support Medicaid expansion in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and to support $175 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the 2013-2015 biennium to help meet Affordable Housing needs of our state residents.

On February 20 we joined together with 400 members of diverse faith communities in support of legislation and policies to address gun violence, economic justice for struggling families and wage earners, implementation of the Affordable Care Act to ensure affordable health care for all, immigration reform to provide opportunity for undocumented young people to access university education.

Many of the bills that were discussed are still viable and it’s important to contact our legislators now either thru email (find contact information at leg.wa.gov) or by leaving a message at 1-800-562-6000.

Fiscal Bills – these need to be passed out of committee by Friday, March 1:

  • HB 1338 – early review and second chance for juveniles sentenced to life without parole
  • HB 1440 – wage theft prevention
  • HB 1651 – second chance for juveniles via prohibiting the dissemination of their court records

Following four policy bills are in the House rules committee and need to be voted on by the House by March 13:

  • HB 1413 – voting rights act
  • HB 1429 – allows state funding for higher education programming in prisons (a second chance act)
  • HB 1588 – establishes universal background checks for all firearm sales in our state
  • HB 1817 – Washington state DREAM act, allowing all college-bound students in our state to be eligible for state financial aid

Call 1-800-562-6000 or email your legislators.  Updated status on these priorities is reported regularly by FAN

 Contact Diane Baer for information about Faith Action Network legislative agenda.

 


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Seeing people without labels

Yasher koach to Lauren Feiges for this d’var from her bat mitzvah on Feb. 9, 2013.

How do you feel when you are stopped at a red light, and a person who is homeless asks you for money? Do you get annoyed? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel indifferent? Or are you just numb?

Unlike many other torah portions, my portion Mishpatim did not have a story. It listed many laws, such as you are not to take bribes, you are not to spread rumors, you shall respect your parents, and the ever so famous eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But one particular law stood out to me. It stated, “You shall not wrong nor oppress the stranger, for you were once slaves in the land of Egypt.” My interpretation of this law is that we are not to look down or turn our backs on the stranger, because we can easily be in their place. A stranger is someone you think you have no connection with; although deep down inside the person you may consider a stranger is just like you. Put another way, the stranger is us.

Great commentator Rashi once said; “You know the feelings of a stranger- How painful it is for him when you oppress him” What I think Rashi means is that we shouldn’t label people, or prejudge them. This year my mitzvah project brought me face to face with people in need. Some people needed food, some people needed a roof over their heads, and some people just needed company. My experience made me realize that children living in a shelter are just regular kids. That a person who is homeless is still gracious and thankful for a meal I have just given them. That the people in nursing homes, who need assistance with simple everyday tasks, can still tell a good joke. And through all of these experiences, I really wanted to help these people as much as possible, but I had a fear of reaching out to them and opening myself up to them because I thought they were strangers. Through my contact with them, I quickly learned they weren’t, and I found myself feeling less sorry for them and more connected to the people they were on inside.

Everyone has a purpose in life, and we should recognize a purpose in everyone. This brings me back to my point of not forgetting the so called “stranger”. We all have to remember to reach out and make the stranger once again recognizable, even though it is true that there are a lot of people that need our help; more than any one person can provide. But the next time you are stopped at a red light and see someone asking for help, try this. See them as people without a label. Take out the word homeless. When we do this, we are making our community once again whole by eliminating the stranger. We are all becoming stronger and better people from the inside out. Shabbat Shalom everyone.


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Voices: Reflections on Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day

Reposted from the Faith and Family Homelessness Project

Voices: Reflections on Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day

Posted on 02/21/2013 by 

Published in the Mukilteo Beacon | By Glen Pickus | Feb 20, 2013

It’s our obligation to advocate an end to homelessness

As the world’s first ethical monotheistic religion, Judaism is more than a means for individuals to fulfill their spiritual needs.

Many of us believe it is incumbent on Jews to introduce our ethical values outside of our community. Photo Courtesy of: Glen Pickus More than 650 housing and homeless advocates were given a red scarf to wear at a rally on the steps of the capitol on Feb. 11. The advocates represented 43 out of the 49 legislative districts, which made this Advocacy Day the largest ever.
Because our core ethics are similar, if not identical to those of other faiths, it was logical that Temple Beth Or would partner with the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project.

Which is why last week, on Feb. 11, 11 Temple Beth Or members were on a bus with 25 other people of faith from Everett First Presbyterian, Arlington United Church and Temple Beth Am on our way to Olympia to take part in Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, organized by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

In Olympia we joined more than 650 other advocates whose goal was the same as ours – to call for an end to homelessness. We learned about the connection between housing and education needs and the importance to advocate for revenue dedicated to housing programs. We also attended a workshop on how to be effective advocates.

At noon we rallied on the north steps of the Capitol Building with the hope our state legislators would take notice of our numbers.

After lunch it was time to do some face-to-face advocacy. We grouped together by legislative district and met in three separate meetings with our state representatives and senator. As a Mukilteo resident I live in the 21st District, so I joined about 15 others to meet with Rep. Marko Liias, Rep. Mary Helen Roberts and Sen. Paull Shin. Nearly half of us were Temple Beth Or members.

We are fortunate in the 21st District in that all three of our elected representatives are very supportive of the call to end homelessness.

In our meetings we urged them to fund the Housing Trust Fund at $175 million, vote in favor of the “Fair Tenant Screening Act” to eliminate unfair barriers to housing and to fully fund the “Housing and Essential Needs” and the “Aged, Blind and Disabled” programs which ensure people with disabilities can meet their basic needs.

We pointed out it was not about choosing between education or housing programs because children who don’t have safe and secure housing are not going to be good learners. So we asked them to pursue new, smart and innovative revenues to allow both housing and education programs to be properly funded. (See this HTF Education Factsheet 2013 to learn more.)

As I mentioned in this space last September, for Jews, helping those in need is not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness and justice. We are not to just give to the poor, but we are instructed to advocate on their behalf – to “speak up, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).

On Feb. 11 that’s exactly what my fellow Temple Beth Or members and I were doing.


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Spirit of Purim – Mishlach Manot

by guest blogger Margo MacvVicar-Whelan

H2RGirlWebSiteThe spirit of Purim includes mishlach manot. If you, yes – you, will remember that sharing with others is central to this happy holiday, then the H2R Purim Voucher fund raising drive will be a great success. Make merry and as you do so please contribute either during the festivities or to the Temple Beth Am office or online Purim to Pesach initiative;. Hag sameach from the H2R  Committee!

Homeless to Renter (H2R)

Families fall into homelessness for many different reasons: loss of a job, huge medical bills, divorce, domestic violence, foreclosure — any one disaster can mean the loss of a home. When that happens, the first step for a family is to find temporary shelter and other supports to keep the family together and stabilize the children. Then comes the second and most difficult step: getting out of homelessness.

Here is how H2R helps familes:

  • Families are referred to Jewish Family Service (JFS) by one of more than 25 agencies, some of which provide long-term case management;
  • JFS identifies a family ready to rent their own apartment;
  • The family then locates an apartment they can afford;
  • H2R funds move-in costs;
  • H2R also provides household supplies, special afghans made by our Knitzvah Knitters, and, if necessary, helps the family with the costs of apartment supplies.

Donate online now with our Purim to Pesach initiative; your tax-deductible contribution will help continue Homeless to Renter, which has been helping the Greater Seattle community since 2004.


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What’s Next for Gun Control? YOU ARE!

The Come Home Alive Initiative (CHAI), formed by TBA members Jessica Trupin, Shelly Cohen, Randy Simon, and many others, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, is delighted that Council member Tim Burgess, Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and others will be joining us at our next meeting, which we’re co-hosting with the amazing One Million Moms for Gun Control.Nick Federici, advocate for nonprofit causes in Olympia, will be leading an advocacy training after the speakers. Other prominent leaders are also signing up to join us!We hope that each of you is in this struggle for the long haul. Come to share, learn, lobby, or just listen.

Next Sunday, 2/24, 3-4:30 at First United Methodist, 180 Denny. We’ll have you out in time for the Oscars. Childcare available.

RSVP to february24rsvp@gmail.com – but don’t let a lack of RSVP keep you away.


First Church (First United Methodist Church, Seattle)
180 Denny Way, Seattle, Washington 98109
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