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Social Action Programs

The Social Action activities below are organized in these broad categories (click to jump to section):

 Support in providing food, shelter and necessities for those in need

1) Three Rosh Hashanah Projects:

Rosh Hashanah - Food Delivery
TI members participate in the annual food package delivery to less fortunate members of the Jewish community, run by the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA), typically on the Sunday prior to Rosh Hashanah.  For food deliveries, adequate distance is always maintained.  To volunteer, contact Larry Baizer or Gene Herman.

Rosh Hashanah “Empty Your Pocket” donations to a nearby food pantry. This year’s worthy recipient is the Emory Beacon of Light food pantry and homeless shelter. This food pantry and shelter serves meals to needy families in Ward Four, which is where TI is located. The number of needy families has grown so much that upwards of 1,600 recipients are provided food assistance per week. The money collected will help the food pantry and a related shelter procure food items for distribution. Click here for the donation website. With questions, contact: Gene Herman.

Rosh Hashanah food drive for the Capital Kosher Pantry, a project of Yad Yehuda. This food drive runs September 1-14, 2020 and is co-sponsored by Tifereth Israel and nine other Jewish community organizations. To see how you can contribute food, please click here or here. With questions, contact Bob FeronNote: the food and supplies provided by the Capital Kosher Pantry are available to any TI member who may need assistance with food and basic supplies, due to job loss or financial hardship. Home deliveries of food and supplies can be arranged.

2) Ongoing Long-Term Ward 4 Neighborhood Project

Ward 4 Mutual Aid – Volunteers Needed (and donations accepted)
Beth Davidson (Joe’s daughter) seeks volunteers who can make phone calls to help coordinate delivery of care packages with food, household supplies, and hygiene and baby products to people in the Ward 4 community, where TI is located.  Ward 4 Mutual Aid supports neighbors during this coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
As of August 9, it had delivered to 3,305 households, with 13,398 individuals. Roughly 70% of the households it supports are Spanish-speaking.  Ward 4 has endured the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the city. Beth Davidson has been making deliveries for W4MA since late March. She says “I love being able to support my community, but the need I've seen is heartbreaking.” Beth seeks volunteers to make phone calls; Spanish speakers are especially needed, but all volunteers should sign up. With questions, contact either Varda Fink or Beth Davidson. Click here for the W4MA volunteer sign-up form. Click here for the TI signup form.


 Tutoring and mentoring programs aimed mainly at children

1) Shepherd Park Tutoring

2020-2021 will be the 19th year adults and teenagers from Tifereth Israel and our neighborhood have tutored students from our local public elementary school. Each tutor is paired with a young student (grade 2-6) for the school year. The pair meets for one hour, normally on Sundays, to read, practice math skills, or review homework. The weekly hour can make a tremendous difference in the academic performance of participating students by reinforcing skills learned in school. This informal homework tutoring was previously done in person, at the synagogue, but this year we will attempt to arrange to do it via Zoom. This will likely provide greater flexibility in scheduling tutoring sessions. If we can make this work remotely, we will need to have a pool of volunteer TI tutors to launch this in late September. Adults, high school students and pre-Bar/Bat-Mitzvah tutors can work with students who are in primary school. If you are interested, please sign up by clicking here. With questions, contact Bruce Heppen or Tobi McFarland.

2) TI Mutual Support Tutoring for school age children

This is a new program, so please sign up soon. For TI families with children at home, the TI volunteer could listen to children read over the phone and discuss the text with them. Volunteers could also assist students with reading, practice math skills, or review science or social sciences homework. While reviewing their school assignments, the TI volunteer tutor would provide appropriate informal advice. Adults and high school student tutors can work with students of any age, while pre-Bar/Bat-Mitzvah tutors will work primarily with students who are in primary school, always with adult supervision. If you are interested, please sign up by clicking hereWith questions, contact either Lynn Golub-Rofrano or Bob Feron.

3) TI Immigrant Support Tutoring for Children of Immigrant Families

Over the past two years, a small but dedicated team of TI adults and adolescents have provided homework tutoring to the school-age children of three different immigrant families from Syria. These informal tutoring sessions are usually fun and rewarding, since these sweet kids really appreciate our support, and so do their parents. It’s rewarding to see how strongly they want to learn these reading, writing, math and basic science skills and how our help can significantly improve their performance and grades. This tutoring was previously done in person, but is now being done remotely. We currently have enough TI tutors, but we may need to recruit a few new volunteer tutors in late 2020 who will be comfortable doing all such tutoring via Zoom. The normal schedule is one or two sessions of 60-90 minutes per week. Adults are welcome, of course, as are exceptionally mature high school students. If interested, click here. With questions, contact Bob Feron or Janet Nesse.

4) Entertaining children so parents can work; a great volunteer project for older children

This is a new TI Social Action program, through which TI families can offer to support one another. The timing, content and circumstances of such activities will need to be coordinated with the parents of the children involved. Adult supervision and coordination will be provided. If you are interested, please sign up by clicking here. With questions, contact Lynn Golub-Rofrano or Varda Fink.

  • Play games or participate in online activities (e.g. educational programs, podcasts) with children, so that their parents can work with fewer interruptions.

  • Start a children’s story hour for a certain age group and run it once a week. Read to the children and create a craft project for the children based on the story you read. This would continue weekly for two or three months.

C) Mentoring, support and coaching programs aimed mainly at adults

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of us have had our lives disrupted in many respects. The Social Action committee would like to organize new online activities to keep Tifereth Israel members connected and to facilitate mechanisms through which TI members could volunteer to provide day-to-day practical support to one another. Please join us in this endeavor by volunteering to provide support through activities such as those listed below. Click here to sign up.  With questions, contact either Lynn Golub-Rofrano or Bob Feron.

  • Teach tech. information to older congregants – How to Zoom, how to use FaceTime, WhatsApp, and whatever other routine online access is needed.

  • Share online resources to assist people who cannot leave their homes.

  • Share computer skills – a great opportunity for older teens to increase the computer skills and literacy of other TI members.

  • Volunteer could host a regular online afternoon gathering for members, which could be for members of a certain age group or people with a particular interest.

  • Create connections between older and younger members – This can be regular phone calls from the younger members (young adults and teens) to check in with the older members and help to emphasize their importance to Tifereth Israel.

D) Advocacy Social Action Projects

Gun Violence Prevention
We are concerned with preventing gun violence and TI is working with the D.C. Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network. In June 2020, Tifereth Israel was among over 60 organizations that co-signed a
letter to the DC Mayor and DC Council advocating on behalf of specific programs to prevent gun violence. With questions, or to volunteer on the issue of gun violence prevention, contact Claudine Schweber or Mona Berch. Or click here to sign up.

Immigration Reform and Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
We are committed to facilitating the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into the local community. To that end, TI members have offered support to three families of legal immigrants (formerly refugees) from Syria, helping them to navigate life’s challenges and ensuring that they proceed on their journey to becoming American citizens. We have also provided to the congregation up-to-date information on the overall refugee situation. If you would like to volunteer to help, please sign up by clicking
here. To learn more, contact Bob Feron.


Other Major Social Issues
We are concerned about preserving the environment, promoting gender equality, protecting voting rights, ensuring healthcare, preventing police violence and promoting racial harmony. We invite congregants to play an advocacy role on one or more of these issues, as well as informing and/or mobilizing congregational attention and support for these efforts. To volunteer for advocacy on these or other major societal issues, together with other members of our congregation, contact Bob Feron or click here to sign up.

E) Educational and informational programs on Social Action issues

Annual Martin Luther King Weekend Shabbaton

Each year, on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, the Social Action team organizes a Social Justice Shabbat program. These programs are dedicated to MLK and his lifelong pursuit of social justice. In January 2021, the theme will be related to Jews from Africa and African American Jews. Click here to learn about the January 2020 shabbaton. To learn about the 2019 Shabbaton, click here.

Topics of previous MLK Shabbatons have included:

  1. Intolerance: It’s consequences for vulnerable and targeted groups.
  2. Welcoming and caring for refugees
  3. TI Social Justice activities after 50 years
  4. Educating underserved minority communities: Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools
  5. The current state of intolerance in America
  6. Being a good neighbor: Genesis of Shepherd Park School tutoring program
  7. Health care as a human right: the true story of the Medical Committee for Human Rights and the civil rights movement
  8. Improving the quality of education for all: One person can make a difference
  9. Poverty in the DC metro area: an update 

With questions, contact Gene Herman.

F) Spring 2021 Social Action Projects

Passover Food Delivery
Help brighten someone’s Passover by helping to deliver dozens of bags of holiday groceries to Jewish seniors, immigrants and others in need as identified by local Jewish agencies. Deliveries are picked up at TI, usually on the Sunday morning before Passover, and drivers are equipped with directions to households that will be expecting a delivery. Click
here to sign up. For more information contact Larry Baizer or Gene Herman.

G) Traditional Social Action programs now on hold due to the pandemic

Several of our traditional Social Action activities have involved direct service to the less fortunate members of the community and therefore present the possibility of relatively close contact. Due to concerns raised by the coronavirus pandemic, most of these efforts have been curtailed during 2020. We hope to resume many of the projects described below after D.C. and Maryland Public Health Authorities believe such activities have become safe. In practice, this is unlikely to occur before a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 becomes widely available throughout the general population, when and if that occurs. Therefore, the five traditional Social Action activities listed below have been suspended until further notice.

SOME (So Others Might Eat) – Casseroles *
SOME opened as a small soup kitchen in 1970 and with the help of volunteers now provides a nourishing, hot breakfast and lunch every day of the year. TI participates by creating casseroles for SOME to serve--a great activity for volunteers of all ages.  For casserole drop-off times, contact Stephanie or David Rubin.

Martha's Table - Van Run *
Help support those who are hungry by joining us as we drive a soup-and-sandwich van one Sunday a month, serving dinner to homeless men and women on the streets of downtown DC. Learn more by contacting Gene Herman.

Christmas Meals *
TI members cook and serve over 300 Christmas lunch meals to residents of four local homeless shelters each Christmas. We also give out small gifts, and our children take special pride in helping to wrap these gifts at the locations where the meals are served.  All are invited to help prepare in advance as well as serve food. We also welcome contributions to help defray the cost of the meals. To learn more, contact  Larry Baizer or
Mona Berch.

Juniper Street Collections *
We collect food, clothing, and other items throughout the year for schools, shelters, others in our community. The collection point is in the Juniper Street lobby. To learn more contact 
Jeri Roth Lande

Friendship Place
Friendship Place, in Tenleytown DC, provides a welcome center, job placement, short-term housing, supportive housing, and street outreach for homeless people. Tifereth Israel is represented on Friendship Place’s Congregations Committee, which is a liaison to several DC congregations. The committee works on projects such as collections of winter clothing and school backpacks. Other activities include fundraising friendship walks and concerts and engaging volunteers. To learn more, contact Julie Steinberg.

Tue, December 1 2020 15 Kislev 5781