Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities


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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
View Map · Get Directions

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Everyone Counts: Count Us In 2013

I was lucky enough to be asked to be the  Meal Team Leader last Thursday at the Teen Feed Count Us In site.  During the extended two hour meal we served over 80 youth and young adults ages 13-25, and the many volunteers who came to help out.   Following is an excellent summary of Count Us In and the importance of counting a population that has until very recently been “hidden” in our plain sight.  

If you are interested in joining me in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 11th please contact me at rsimon28@comcast.net.

Repost: Everyone Counts: Homeless Youth & Young Adult 2013 Count Us In

http://firesteelwa.org/blog/open/title/everyone-counts-homeless-youth-and-young-adult-2013-count-us-in

Posted on 01/29/2013 by 

Firesteel / Blog / Everyone Counts: Homeless Youth & Young Adult 2013 Count Us In.

Homeless counts will have taken place in every county across the country by the end of January. In this series, “Everyone Counts,” our partners at Firesteel explore the importance of these counts and hear what impact they had on some of the thousands of volunteers in Western Washington. In this post, Ashwin from Seattle University shares insights from the Count Us In homeless youth and young adult count–a population which has only recently been counted!

By Ashwin Warrior, Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness; Senior, Seattle University.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, the doors to the basement of University Congregational Church in Seattle’s University District swing open, and the youth flow in out of the cold.

They are greeted by warmth and smiles, offered dry clothes and small sets of toiletries, and —perhaps most importantly—fed a warm meal.

Since 1987, the non-profit organization Teen Feed has been providing regular meals to the University District’s homeless youth population. In 2011, the organization served more than 13,200 meals to 690 individual youths in need.

Tonight, however, is about more than food. As the youth sit down to an enchilada dinner, volunteers disperse among the crowd, clipboards and pens in hand.

Teen Feed is one of the providers at the center of King County’s third annual Count Us In initiative, an effort started in 2011 to better count youth and young adults who are unstably housed or homeless. This is the first time that Count Us In has been aligned with the One Night Count in King County.

The effort is led by a steering committee that comprises of United Way of King County, the City of Seattle, King County and youth & young adult providers. The goal is to end homelessness among youth and young adults – “unaccompanied youth” ages 12-24 – by 2020.

Volunteers and staff interviewed youth and young adults at centralized sites around the county, including libraries, drop-in centers and meal programs.  Some providers also went into the community to do outreach and find the young people.  The survey they used includes questions such as where the young person slept the night before, but also gets into some of the major causes of homelessness among this group, including whether the young person has ever been in foster care.

The U.S. Interagency Council (USICH) selected King County and Washington state as one of nine locations to participate in a national pilot to collect data on youth homelessness.

Data gathered from Teen Feed and numerous other youth agencies across King County, including Auburn Youth ResourcesFriends of Youth and YouthCare’s Orion Center, will be added to the One Night Count estimates and reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will also be used to better tailor youth services across the county.

As one worker of the night, Alex Okerman of the YMCA’s Young Adult Services, explains, “It’s really essential to understanding homelessness. If we’re going to try and do something to stop it, by asking questions about these young adults and what their past experiences are like…we can get to the root of some of the issues.” Hear more of his thoughts below:

Volunteer Erin Maguire works on youth programs for Catholic Community Services.  She said that the Youth Count provides important information that she uses all the time.

“The more than we understand the issue from young people that we’re hearing from tonight, the more we can improve our programs and increase our services to them,” Erin said.

Many locations also hosted a sleepover for the youth who participated in the Count.

Skateboards lined the wall at Teen Feed’s Count Us In sleepover. Photo tweeted by @teenfeedseattle, Jan. 25, 2013.

The second Count Us In, in 2012, recorded a conservative number of 685 unstably housed youth and young adults in King County.  Preliminary results from Count Us In will be available soon; watch for more here on Firesteel.


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Zichronam Lirracha, For Their Memory Shall be a Blessing

Zichronam Lirracha, For Their Memory Shall be a Blessing

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is collecting signatures for a national Jewish petition to urge action on gun control and mass violence.

FInd Petition here.

December 14, 2012’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has reminded us that the issue of gun violence in our nation must be dealt with immediately.

Please sign this petition to encourage our nation’s leaders to support comprehensive action, including meaningful legislation to limit access to assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, aggressive enforcement of firearm regulations, robust efforts to ensure that every person in need has access to quality mental health care, and a serious national conversation about violence in media and games.

On Friday December 14, a gunman armed with three high-powered firearms and high-capacity magazines walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Hundreds of shots were fired and twenty first-graders, ages six and seven, and six educators were killed.

This violent and horrific event aimed at children shocks our conscience and country. Our hearts are broken, our souls weep, and our arms are outstretched to the families of the victims, the survivors, the first responders, and the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut. In just the last few months, we have seen shootings at schools, malls, theaters, and houses of worship. We are pained and dismayed by the pandemic of gun violence, far exceeding other western nations, and we will not accept it.

Our tradition teaches us of the sanctity of life and how each and every person is created in the divine image. We must directly confront gun violence so that our nation is not marked nor the years measured by senseless massacres. We will not allow the intense emotion we feel now to return to a place of complacency where we become desensitized to the atrocities that unfold around us daily. We must come together to build a society worthy of those lost and a culture that represents our best virtues.

We stand committed to working with our local, state, and national leaders to squarely address these issues and honor the victims, survivors, and their families. We recognize the right of Americans to own guns, but we do not accept the current state of affairs. We stand united and call on our leaders to support comprehensive action, including meaningful legislation to limit access to assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, aggressive enforcement of firearm regulations, robust efforts to ensure that every person in need has access to quality mental health care, and a serious national conversation about violence in media and games.

We, the undersigned, ask that President Obama, Congress, and every citizen to take direct and unequivocal action to stop the outrageous and unacceptable violence that is destroying the fabric of our society.

FInd Petition here.


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Afraid to drop my kids off at school

Post by Guest Blogger Suzi LeVine
http://suzilevine.wordpress.com

In 2006, a lunatic got into the Seattle Jewish Federation offices and shot/killed people. This man wasn’t just a lunatic. He was/is a terrorist. He struck terror into the hearts of the Jews throughout Seattle. The day after the incident, a group of us met on a hillside our neighborhood, with a police officer stationed nearby to keep us safe. To the depths of our souls, we were afraid. That’s terror. That’s what terrorists do.

To help keep our community safe, many of the Jewish institutions in Washington State received funding to turn their facilities into fortresses. I was on the board of Hillel (the Jewish Student organization at the University of Washington) at the time and we really wrestled with this conundrum. We wanted to make sure that students felt that it was an open and hospitable environment. Yet – we needed our staff and students to be safe. We had just built a beautiful window-filled building designed to convey that sense of welcoming and lightness.

6 years later, we have bullet proof front glass doors, an intercom system to buzz people in, a surveillance system that captures footage of the surrounding area, and armed police officers for many of the big events. Fortunately, students are resilient and they have continued to come. They have grown accustomed to a new – and perverse – normal.

In 2007, my family and I went to Israel and, during our trip, went to a mall in Eilat to buy some sandals. We went through metal detectors that were staffed by young men with very large and imposing guns. Throughout their country, Israelis go through security to shop and live their lives. They have grown accustomed to a new – and perverse – normal.

Today, I drove my 2 elementary school kids to their respective schools. There was a police officer at my daughter’s school but no noticeable security at my son’s school. I have never been scared of dropping my children off at school before. But my brain couldn’t help but run through macabre scenarios at what are sweet and very open/accessible schools. Would some crazy young man (they are all young men, unfortunately) go into the school with a semi-automatic weapon and murder my babies? Of course the odds are against that happening, but are there mentally ill copy cats who would do that? Just last year, some dumb high school students carried fake plastic weapons onto the play area of one of our neighborhood elementary schools. Granted, they wouldn’t fire on anyone – but if there can be non-mentally ill high school students who do something as moronic as that (last I checked, “stupid” wasn’t classified as a mental illness), then it’s not a stretch for someone to bring a real weapon to one of the schools

So what’s the solution? How do we reduce the terror? How do we reduce the gun violence?

There are far more qualified people thinking about the criminal science and legislative angles on this. But here are just a few ideas from a mom who wants to make sure that, tonight, I get to kiss and hug my babies:

  1. Eliminate the weapons and their ammo – we need federal, state and municipal efforts on this:
    1. Ban them and make it impossibly hard to acquire and/or keep them – including ones that people already own (when legislation gets introduced on this, it’ll be incumbent on all of us to work hard and make a ton of phone calls in support of this legislation. The Pro-Assault Gun lobby has a lot more money and will do a lot to stop this, but we are stronger).
    2. Buy them back from people so that they feel fairly compensated (And for those who say that only the people who are truly dangerous will then be able to acquire them, I have only to point out that, if Adam Lanza’s mother had not been able to LEGALLY acquire the weapons she had, maybe he would not have been able to do what he did). Here’s more on the NY andChicago buy back programs. Each program had pros/cons – but if you can couple the ban WITH a buy back program, perhaps it can be more successful.
    3. Make the ammo cost (as Chris Rock says) $5,000/bullet.
    4. Charge obscene levels of taxes on any weapon related purchases. If we can tax soda, cigarettes, gas and candy more, we sure as heck can tax weapons/ammo more.
  2. Especially in the interim when the politicians are fighting/hashing through what can still respect the 2nd amendment – Turn the schools into fortresses
    1. If you can’t keep a lunatic from getting a weapon – then you better tell me you’ll make it a heck of a lot harder for them to get into my kid’s school. Governors, Mayors, Senators, Presidents – find the funding to get my kids’ schools secure. I don’t want my kids’ principals to have to tackle the lunatic. I don’t want the lunatic to get into the school.
    2. One thing NOT to do, though, is to introduce more guns to the situation. It’s truly insane to think that arming and training teachers/school administrators to USE and keep guns is going to prevent gun violence. So – what – you want to have a Wyatt Earp style standoff next to the girls bathroom and lockers? That’s not okay.
  3. Address the mental health crisis
    1. At both of my kids’ schools, one of the first things cut with budget limitations was a school counselor. What if school counselors and mental health were the top priorities?
    2. Better fund early learning – as that’s the time to identify and address many of the issues that eventually balloon into much bigger issues. What if we could identify a lapse in brain development in the area of the brain pertaining to empathy – and then provide strategies and tools for development? What if programs like Roots of Empathy could help EVERY student develop those areas more effectively. Prof. James Heckman from the U of Chicago did a study that showed that, for every dollar we invest in early learning (zero to 5 in his study) we save $7-14 later in incarceration, rehabilitation, and other crime related costs.

Given how long it will probably take to pass and then enact legislation, I would suggest that we need parallel action tracks to address this scourge on society.

Ever since they were teeny, I would emphasize to them that my number one job (besides loving them) was to keep them safe. For example, if they were doing something fun, but dangerous (playing with sharp sticks), I would be a buzzkill and tell them to put the sticks down. After they guffawed with a two syllable “mo-om!” I would simply ask: “what’s my main job” – and they’d put the stick down while reluctantly saying “keep me safe”.

This time “keeping them safe” feels much more daunting, especially since it relies on the whole community and country. But I’ve watched enough movies to know that, when the group comes together to take down the bad guy, the group – and good – always triumphs.

Change on this front is not going to happen if we don’t push for it. So – while I still feel afraid today to drop my kids off at school, I am going to work hard to make sure that condition doesn’t persist – and I ask you to help too.

For a start – here are some resources/places to engage and stay tuned to the effort:

Also – call your Mayor’s, governor’s, and state legislators’ offices. There’s a lot that can be done locally and not just federally.

Lastly – Take 18 minutes to watch President Obama’s speech last night at the Newtown interfaith vigil.

Be ready. Your help will be needed.

A


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An Invitation to Learn About the Abaudaya Jewish Community of Uganda

Dear Friends,
I am forwarding this invitation to you in the hope that you may want to attend and meet Aaron Kintu Moses.  We have known him for several years and first met him in Uganda in the Abayudaya Jewish Community near Mbale, in Eastern Kenya.  Several years ago we raised some money to help the school build latrines for the students and also purchase a small generator.
While this event may no doubt be of interest to you, and there is no cost, it is a fundraising event.  All of the money that is raised will help the Abaudaya Jewish Community of Uganda.   Indeed Aaron Kintu Moses is a remarkable man and leader of the Abaudaya.
It will be very nice to see you on November 15th.
Thank you!
Peter and Hinda Schnurman

 

You’re Invited!

Please join us in giving a very special welcome to Aaron Kintu Moses, leader of the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda!

On Thursday, November 15, we’re having an invitation-only gathering at the home of Howard Metzenberg in Seattle to introduce Aaron Kintu Moses, Headmaster of the Abayudaya primary school in Uganda, during his speaking tour around the United States. This is a special opportunity to meet a remarkable man who has helped lead his community through persecution and poverty as they’ve struggled to maintain their Jewish identity in Africa.

Will you attend?

Location: Please RSVP for location

Date: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm

A light vegetarian supper will be served.

Space is limited, so please RSVP as soon as you can (harriet@kulanu.org). Please also RSVP if you cannot attend.

Howard Metzenberg: metzenberg@gmail.com  cell 360.553.1149

Aaron Kintu Moses will be touring the US from October 18 through November 21 to inform American audiences about the fascinating history and current developments of the inspiring Jews of Uganda. To view the full calendar of events, visit our online calendar. The annual Kulanu-Abayudaya Speaking Tour supports the two Abayudaya schools in Uganda, which educate and feed nearly 800 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children who study and play together in peace. Kulanu, Inc (www.kulanu.org) is a grassroots non-profit that supports isolated and emerging Jewish communities around the world. You can read more about Kulanu’s work with the Abayudaya at www.kulanu.org/abayudaya

We hope you can make it!

Warm regards,

Harriet


Harriet Bograd, President
Kulanu, Inc

165 West End Ave, 3R
New York, NY 10023

212-877-8082
hbograd@gmail.com
kulanu.org kulanuboutique.com
Donate to Kulanu


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Tikkun Olam in Action – Temple Beth Am Mitzvah Day 2012

On Sunday, May 6th, 400+ Temple Beth Am Religious School students, 50+ parents and 30+ teachers could be found hard at work on multiple mitzvah projects to serve our community. The positive energy in the classrooms was palpable and smiles were everywhere. This year, nine different grade levels from PreKindergarten (our 4 year olds) all the way up to our 7th graders learned about the many critical needs throughout our community.  Each grade level found a special way to impact those in need.

Some of the highlights of the day were: 

–         PreK children helped to make catnip toys for newly adopted kitty cats at the Seattle Animal Shelter.
–         Kindergarteners created colorful collages of happy faces which were then turned into laminated placemats for residents of Providence Elderplace.
–         Our joyful, energetic 1st grade students visited Ida Culver House and entertained the residents with songs, storybook reading, and colorful drawings.
–         The staff at Treehouse, http://www.treehouseforkids.org/ an organization that serves the needs of foster children, requested kid-created stationary.  Our 2nd graders did a fabulous job producing the requested stationary.
–         Our industrious 3rd grade students prepared a meal for homeless teens.  An excellent speaker from Teenfeed  www.teenfeed.org  helped the students understand the causes of teen homelessness.
–         Mary’s Place, http://marysplaceseattle.org/ a community center serving homeless women and their children, was the recipient of more than 100 personal hygiene kits. These kits were lovingly assembled by our 4th graders and an encouraging note was added to each kit.
–         The 5th grade students tackled the problem of hungry families. Our students converted bulk dry goods (rice, beans, sugar and rolled oats) into family-sized portions.  They also provided useful recipes for the food.
–         The Downtown Emergency Services Center http://www.desc.org/needed artwork to make apartments seem more welcoming and home-like for residents moving away from homelessness.  Our 6th graders eagerly shared their creative skills making the needed wall hangings.
–         The 7th grade students and parents tackled environmental restoration work at the Beaver Pond Natural Area under the supervision of EarthCorps http://earthcorps.org/. It was a great day to be outside repairing the world.

We would like to express a huge thank you to all who participated, all of the TBA rabbis and administrators who supported our efforts, the custodial staff who took care of many needed room modifications, and congregants who gave time and donations.  

Sandy Cobel and Peter Gruenbaum, 2012 Mitzvah Day Co-Chairs


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3/18 – TBA Tikkun Olam Teach-In: Homelessness and Economic Injustice

Exploring the Issues of Homelessness and Economic Injustice?  Still Have Questions? Frustrated by How to React as an Individual and as a Community?

Please join us on March 18th at the TempleBeth Am Tikkun Olam Teach-In:  Homelessness and Economic Injustice as we wrestle with these and other questions:

What do you think a caring community should know about homelessness?

Is this a community problem or someone else’s misfortune?

What can I do to help?

What can we do as a community to help?

By allowing tent cities, as an example, are we not addressing the problem? Or are we perpetuating a problem?

How does homelessness affect different populations such as adults, families, youth, chronically ill, mentally ill, chronic substance abusers?

The politics ­ Is this an issue for the city?  county? state? 

Schedule and Registration Info at:  http://templebetham.wufoo.com/forms/tikkun-olam-teachin/