A Message from Temple Beth El’s Tzedek Council

Even as we enter 5782 with hopes for a sweet, new year, we have been carefully monitoring the various natural (and human-made) disasters of recent weeks. From last month’s earthquake in Haiti to Hurricane Ida’s impact both in the south and northeast, to the situation in Afghanistan and the refugee/immigration resettlement of Afghans to the US, our world has been inundated by tragedy – and this list is by no means a full accounting of the challenges people are facing. We learn in Talmud: “We sustain the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor, visit the non-Jewish sick with the Jewish sick, and bury the non-Jewish dead with the Jewish dead, for the sake of peace.” (Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 61A). We have a role to play in helping those in need.

Temple Beth El maintains a Disaster Relief Fund exactly for moments like this. Distributions from this fund are made by the Tzedek Council in conversation with the clergy team, after weighing a number of variables and criteria. When possible, we make donations directly to impacted Jewish communities in an affected area, and/or through Jewish organizations working in that area. We also prioritize support for those impacted in our geographic region (the southeast), again through Jewish Organizations when possible, though we also send support more broadly when the need arises. Often, we are not one of the first organizations to send money, and this is purposeful. Financial assistance continues to be important in the weeks and months following tragedy, and taking the time to do our research allows us to see where funding is most needed, and which organizations are working directly and most effectively with impacted populations on the ground. To donate to the Disaster Relief Fund to help Temple Beth El continue to support others in their time of need, click here and select “Disaster Relief Fund” in the “Type” dropdown menu under Payment details.

We wanted to update you on our most recent distributions and the work we are doing to prepare for our upcoming contributions.

  1. Through the Disaster Relief Fund, we have contributed $1,000 each to two Jewish organizations working on the ground in Haiti:
    1. American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has long been established in Haiti and has set up a specific fund to help with earthquake recovery.  This fund will not only address the immediate needs of the Haitian people, but will also support local activists who have been fighting the systemic causes of poverty and oppression in Haiti.
    2. IsraAid deploys to areas where the Israeli expertise in emergency response is needed.  They have sent a team, including Haitian former staff members, to distribute relief items and assess needs in the area.
  2. We are monitoring the ongoing impact of Hurricane Ida, particularly in the southeast, and are in touch with various aid organizations to determine where our help is needed and how we can best serve those that have suffered. We plan to make a contribution from the Disaster Relief Fund once we have determined the appropriate designation for said contribution.
  3. We have heard from many of our congregants a deep desire to help the Afghan people who were able to flee Afghanistan at the evacuation of the American troops.  We hear you and share your desire to welcome the stranger, remembering that we were once strangers in the land of Egypt.  In the short term, we are partnering with MFNN (the Multi-Faith Neighbors Network) on a hygiene kits collection drive – see below for more details. We are also partnering with JCRI (the Jewish Community Refugee Initiative) to build a plan for long-term support. 
    1. Short term – MFNN Collection Drive:
      1. In partnership with the Muslim Community Center of Charlotte and Stonebridge Church, we have been asked to assemble personal hygiene boxes for arriving Afghans. Boxes can be assembled for a child, adult male, or adult female. Determine which box(es) you would like to assemble and then gather the items listed at the bottom of this email, placing them in a shoebox-sized, labeled box. The boxes should be dropped in the collection bin at Temple Beth El no later than Tuesday, September 21.
    2. Long term – here is what we know so far:
      1. As of now, we do not have an exact date for when those who fled Afghanistan will be arriving in Charlotte, but it could take as long as six months.
      2. Similarly, we do not know how many people will arrive, but we are told it may be as many as 25 families, representing approximately 100 people.  
      3. The immediate need upon arrival will be housing, so if anyone has a lead on obtaining low income or available housing, please contact Nicole Sidman.
      4. There will also be a need for household items, hands on help with moving and funds.  As we better assess those needs, we will keep the congregation apprised as well as determine how best to support the new Charlotte residents with a donation from the Emergency Response Fund, as applicable.
      5. Please note that refugees continue to arrive from all over the world into Charlotte with the same needs as the Afghan families will have, so if you are interested in getting involved at any time, please reach out to Nicole.
  4. As always, one need not look far to find people in need. Over 500,000 people in our area, many of them children, are in danger of going hungry every day.  Again this year, our LIBERTY teen group is holding a High Holy Day Hunger Relief Project benefitting Second Harvest Metrolina, the main food pantry distribution center in our area, which serves 24 counties and distributes through over 800 partner organizations, including JFS (Jewish Family Services) and our local refugee support organizations.  Please help them reach their goal of $10,000 by donating here.  If you want to learn more about this initiative, watch this video prepared by our amazing teens.

These are difficult times. But we must not turn away.  As we have been instructed by Rabbi Tarfon  “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”  We are proud to be part of this community that does not desist.  Let us continue to work together toward a world that is safe, healthy, and inhabitable for all.

L’Shalom,

Temple Beth El Clergy Team
Nicole Sidman, Social Justice Outreach Coordinator
Lisa Shpritz, Tzedek Council Chair

Items needed for collection boxes

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