Event stresses healing the world

Event stresses healing the world

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

More than 200 volunteers of all ages flowed into B’nai Amoona’s Wolff Auditorium for the congregation’s annual Totally Tikkun Olam. “This program gives our membership an opportunity to come together for the purpose of fixing the world,” said congregational president Karen Grossman Tabak. Event chairs were Sharon Fivel, Marla Grossman and Randi Schenberg. Said Fivel, “It is very exciting because this is the second year our entire religious school is on hand to participate. It is a way to do something positive and proactive for the community.”

The morning began with a Yom HaSho’ah V’HaGvurah – Holocaust Heroism Remembrance program. Said Rabbi Carnie Rose, “The Holocaust is the greatest example of brokenness in the world. I was very moved by our kids who talked about the current situations in Darfur and the Sudan. When we think about how we rose from this tragedy, from great sadness to joy, it can help us bring it all together to help those in need today.”

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Assembly lines of volunteers helped prepare a variety of food items for the Jewish Food Pantry. The Early Childhood Center sponsored the birthday in a bag table. Children decorated bags which were filled with cake mix, icing and candles. The Men’s Club table included all the fragrant ingredients for barley soup which were scooped into zip locked bags. The Women’s League helped prepare bags of trail mix. “The food pantry told us they could use more healthy ready-to-eat snacks,” said Fivel. More than 300 complete meals were prepared containing pasta, sauce, green beans, apple crisp, and garlic bread.

One table was sponsored by the different chavurot in the congregation. “Volunteers are putting together more than 150 brown bag lunches we will deliver to the Salvation Army this afternoon,” said Mark Dana. The bags were filled with bananas, cheese and crackers, puddings, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a dessert. Ninth grader Liza Levko was busy putting the peanut butter on the sandwiches. “It makes us feel good to help somebody else,” said Levko. “It makes me feel like a better person.” The older students acknowledged it is hard for them to find time to do volunteer work and it was especially nice to have it as part of their religious school program.

Susan Kelter, director of community relations for Life for Life Academy, was on hand to speak to the volunteers filling backpacks for the organization. Said Kelter, “This is not the first year B’nai Amoona has looked after our children and I wanted to be with you personally today to say thank you. All children want to have nice things and new things. Our kids will be so happy to have these new things. Some of our kids don’t know how to read. We raise the bar for them to help improve their literacy skills and your donated books will help.”

The United Synagogue Youth group sponsored a table to make several hundred activity bags to be donated to several area hospitals. Younger students decorated the bags which were filled with crayons, coloring books and other items. “I would like getting this bag if I was in the hospital,” said kindergartener Olivia Redler.

There were several other mitzvah opportunities available including a children’s book collection for Lift for Life and blood drive. At one table people wrote letters of encouragement to Israeli soldiers. “It is important to let them know that other people are thinking about them and appreciate what they do,” said tenth grader Kevin Goldberg. “Some day it could be us fighting in a war.”

This year participants were also encouraged to bring their new or gently used folding money. The money was raised for the Shir Chadash, a Jewish congregation in New Orleans. Besides being a sister conservative congregation, there is a deeper local connection. Said Rabbi Rose, “Adam Brownstone, who does community relations for Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, is from Winnipeg and we went to the same Jewish community high school. After the tragedy, I was invited to speak at B’nai Amoona to talk about how we could help. We were the first congregation to provide a new pew for the shul.”

One of the busiest volunteers was the congregation’s mashgicha (supervisor of kosher food) Betsy Enger. She helped purchase and prepare the various food items for the stations. It is a very satisfying day for her. Said Enger, “This is very cool. I think it’s nice for all the kids to work together, cooperating with one another to help someone else – which is obviously tikkun olam.”