Continued Assistance Needed

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The Westfield Fun Club, with whom we have been collaborating over the past few months to deliver food and other essential household items to over 100 refugee families in the Elizabeth area during the pandemic, is winding down their Emergency Food Initiative. (See the email) The Fun Club happily reports that many of the families no longer need the emergency supplies since they have returned to work and/or have seen an increase in SNAP benefits.

However, there are still roughly a dozen refugee and asylum-seeking households – mostly senior citizens – who need our continued assistance. The Fun Club is arranging for these families to be “adopted” by other families or groups who can provide them with weekly deliveries of food and household items.

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Shavuot Nature Wall

CU yellow blossom w orange _ red_ St Barts, Feb 2011-COLLAGE (1)

Celebrate Beautiful Nature on Shavuot!

A Message From Rabbi Greenstein:

There is a wonderful custom of decorating synagogues and homes with flowers and leaves and pictures of nature on the holiday of Shavuot, the festival celebrating our receiving the Torah. While we are still not able to celebrate within the walls of our synagogue, we can create a wall of photos and images of nature’s beauty to enhance our joy.

Thank you to photographers in our community, Judith Antelman, Bruce Baff, Nancy Breslin, Aimee Brooks, Sarita Eisenberg, Aileen Grossberg, Rabbi Richard Hammerman, Laura Monka and Merrill Silver who have submitted their images in honor of Shavuot.

What a beautiful way to welcome our holiday! May we always take to heart the world’s great beauty!

view the gallery

Shomrei Responds to Plea from Westfield Fun Club to Help Refugee Families

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We received an email from the Westfield Fun Club regarding their continuing efforts to assist refugee families in the Elizabeth area (including the families we have been assisting) during the coronavirus pandemic.  As you can imagine, the Fun Club has been inundated with requests for additional assistance, and is now helping 55 families, up from about 20 just two weeks ago. We have found that the Fun Club offers us many valuable ways to help the refugee families that we would not have on our own. The latest example is that they are making regular deliveries of essential food and supplies to the families during this crisis period.

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Refugee Assistant Group Update 3/21/20

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We have reached out to the refugee families that we have been assisting during the past three years to find out how they are faring in the coronavirus crisis. Many have had severe setbacks to what had previously been a slow but steady assimilation to their new lives in the United States.  A number of the men who had jobs as drivers have lost those jobs; one who had a steady job for three years delivering for a restaurant was let go because he had a seasonal cough.  Some of the schoolchildren who had depended on the schools for breakfast are now going without that meal.
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Resilience

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editor’s note: on the evening of Dec 29, 2019, the wider Jewish community including area synagogues and Chabad of Montclair, as well as interfaith allies gathered for the lighting of the communal Hanukkiah as an act of solidarity in light of recent attacks on Jews.

RESILIENCE
By Judith Antelman

on a corner in December
in the cold in the rain

we light one candle
we remember

with community & family
with strangers & friends Continue reading

Refugee Assistant Group Update 10/31/19

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Hayan and Rabbi Greenstein

Here are two exciting developments —

  1. We are teaming up with two wonderful organizations — Laptop UpCycle and the Westfield Fun Club — to bring recycled laptops to 10 refugee children in Elizabeth.  Laptop UpCycle is a Montclair group that is “committed to obtaining, refreshing, and distributing technology to students who need the tools to succeed in school” and has already delivered over 400 laptops to needy students in Montclair.  We have introduced Laptop UpCycle to the refugee families through the Fun Club, which runs a Saturday morning program at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield for refugee families in Elizabeth.  The Fun Club program includes ESL, job training, resume building, IEP assistance, citizenship test prep, and more for adults, and homework help, arts and crafts, music, karate, acting, games, lego, SAT prep, college application assistance, and more for the children and teens.  Laptop UpCycle will be delivering the laptops to the 10 students at a Fun Club session in mid-November.

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Two Ways to Help Local Refugees

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From Andy Silver:

We are organizing a Back-to-School Supplies Drive for the children in the refugee families whom we have been assisting. We need your help!

There are currently 18 school-age children, ranging in age from 4 to 16, in six of “our” families. The families have very little discretionary income to spend on school supplies; our goal is to help enable the children to have what they need to start the school year successfully.

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Nick Levitin: This Year’s Honoree in Three Acts

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For Nick Levitin, the true meaning of life lies in service—to serve people and God. His passion for people and his commitment to service are the bookends of his journey, and they created the groundwork on which he served. As a kid growing up on Long Island in a secular family with no Jewish education, serving as President of not one but two synagogues was never part of his childhood game plan. He did not join a synagogue until he was 39. But first, he would follow his dreams onto the stage. Continue reading

Refugee Assistance Group Update — October 25, 2018

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We will be visiting the refugee families in Elizabeth on Monday and would like to bring them as many needed items as possible at that time.  We’ve compiled the requested items on the following list: http://signup.com/go/PGuRfLE.  If you can possibly donate any items, please sign up online and drop off the items in the box in Shomrei’s lobby by October 28 if you possibly can.

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Know Compassion

familyAfter each two-hour shift I spent with the families we hosted through IHN, I walked out of Shomrei feeling humbled, grateful, and sad. These emotions inspired the following poem:

Know Compassion

Even just a little
because we have health
because we have family
because we have security
and we know
as we move
through our day
when a child you love
needs tender care,
someone is there
to offer hugs and love
and safety
and more love.

Know compassion
without judgement
because you never know
when you may need
shelter, clothing, food
because you answered
yes when no called
or you moved east
when west asked
or you accepted
charity masked as
strategy; then
tragedy befell
a family.

Know compassion
maybe even more
because we have
because we eat
because we sleep
and we know
tomorrow
when we rise
inside four walls
beneath a roof
sipping hot or cold
coffee or tea
we are alive
we are safe.

 

image:  “Family” © IsaacVakeroKoner altered and used with permission via Creative Commons License