So many of you have been expressing interest in ways that you can help to heal and repair our broken world through the good works of Kol Ami. And I understand why so many of you want to do this work out of both a spiritual and social sense of personal responsibility. Because, clearly, we cannot just sit back and let those who would abuse and destroy the planet and other people get the upper hand. We just cannot allow for it. We are Jews. Not on our time. This is what we must be showing our youth. They need to know that Jewish adults have a plan and a vision and a sense of direction. Will you be one of those adults? I am feeling like alot fo you out there want to be that kind of adult, you might even be already.
This I know as we enter the Jewish year of 5782. Goodness must win. God's goodness will win. We will achieve health as a nation and world, we will free the captives and lift up the fallen, we will take care of the widow, the orphan, the unhoused, the hungry, the ill (mentally and physically), the vulnerable: we will uplift each other. There is no other option.
We have a unique purpose, us the Jewish people, on this planet. To mend the broken places. To find the places where our help is needed. To be God's partners in creation, moving our world forward, towards justice and compassion, peace and sustainability. Our ancestors have passed this important wisdom too for over 2000 years: You do not have to do ALL of the work of fixing this world, but you DO have to do some of it. Your hands are indeed God's hands. No one else is coming. And we are not destined to expire as a people or species. We have outlived and outlasted the mightiest of civilizations. We have the wisdom, the secret sauce to making this world work as intended. And we all have to do our part.
If we want a better world for our children and grand children, the inheritors of this blessed tradition, then we must all cooperate, each a little at a time, to build that vision of the world. As Americans we are addicted to work but also to our games, our liesure. This year consider taking a portion of time specifically for hands on tikkun olam, be it feeding people or advocating, raising funds or moving furniture...what portion of this next year of life will be spent hand in hand with the Divine, healing our world? Below are opportunities to consider in making your tikkun olam plans for the new year of 5782. Remember: it is not up to you, it is up to all of us to tip this ship in the right direction.
Have a happy, health and tikkun olam filled NEW YEAR! Shana Tov U'Metukah.
High Holy Days Food Drive: Virtual
Our High Holy Day Food Drive! Since COVID will keep some of us from attending Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in person, we won’t ask this year for food donations to be brought to the synagogue during the High Holy Days. We ask instead that you contribute as able to a charity providing food assistance locally, nationally or internationally. We encourage you to consider making this donation directly to Jewish Family Services here.
Local Afghan Family and Refugee Support-- how Kol Ami members can help new arrivals
Throughout the 2021 High Holiday season and beyond, Kol Ami's Social Action committee is spearheading an effort and calling upon members to help us support local Afghan families who've been resettled here by larger agencies, such as Jewish Family Service (JFS), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and others. Most of the families have been resettled in the South Sound: in Burien, Federal Way, Des Moines, and Tukwila.
We are also supporting Wilfredo, a wonderful young man who walked to the US from Honduras to seek asylum. He is currently housed with a Kol Ami member and many Kol Ami friends are spending time with him and supporting his settlement here in a variety of ways. If you speak Spanish and are interested in volunteering please contact Stephanie Rose @ email@example.com.
As you can imagine, the needs are many. The families arrive with next to nothing; in most cases, with only one piece of small hand luggage and the clothes on their backs. Several Kol Ami members have been directly involved with supporting these families, through procurement of items beyond what the agencies provide, and with delivering these items to families. They have been working alongside other faith groups (Bear Creek Methodist, Latter Day Saints, MAPS/MCRC in Redmond) in their efforts, and they are looking for more volunteers from KA to get involved. Here are some ways you can help:
1) Monetary donations directly to Rabbi Discretionary Fund
For example, funds to pay for the transport of furniture, funds to purchase car and booster seats, funds to purchase household items like irons, mops, vacuum cleaners, microwaves- items the agencies do not provide. Diapers too. We are fortunate to be able to YES when we are asked as a community to help. We can help directly and usually within 24 hours. your donations help make this possible.
2) Provide Tangible Goods
Donate or procure gently used items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, such as cookware, pots, pans, toddler beds, bedding, toys, bicycles, other household goods. For donation drop off arrangements, please contact Stephanie Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Donate your time and energy
Pick up and delivery of these items: KA families with trucks or large vans are especially needed for the delivery of larger furniture like sofas and queen mattresses.
Food donations-- orders are placed with Bishops Storehouse (a food pantry in Kent operated by the Latter Day Saints). Help is need with pick up and delivery.
Get involved as a family liaison, meeting and welcoming families, and assessing their immediate needs.
Please contact Social Action Committee member Deborah Kassel-Day at email@example.com or (425) 443-5857 if you'd like more information or would like to get involved.
4) Get involved in political action. Our government needs to be doing more to help Afghan refugees. To learn more, read this summary from the Union for Reform Judaism describing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the steps our government must take to address this crisis. Then fill out this form from the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. The form will generate a letter to President Biden, demanding that he strengthen our response to the crisis in Afghanistan.