Shana Tova! I hope you are greeting 5782 with a resounding “Hineni!”- here I am, ready to take on the New Year with enthusiasm and commitment.
In that spirit, I am writing about the future of the Wednesday Night Minyan. Because of my pandemic work schedule, (teaching on Zoom Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 PM) I am no longer available to lead the Wednesday night minyan. (Even if we changed Wednesday to another night of the week, all this Zoom time would not be good for my mental health!) Continue reading
Dear Shomrei Friends,
Here are some major items for your careful consideration. We realize there is a lot here, but there is a lot of need.
We have been researching the best ways to provide support to Afghan families who are being resettled in our region. As a start, we are teaming up with the grass roots organization One World, One Love, which has done amazing work with many refugee families during the past few years. The organization is now starting to help the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) families who are arriving in our area from Afghanistan — 10 families (approximately 50 people) so far, with many more expected to come. They have asked us to help provide the following items for the new homes that are being set up for the families: Continue reading
Our monthly Wednesday evening minyan wrapped up another successful year. That’s 13 years – not bad for a minyan that was supposed to last only one month. We will take a summer break and resume in some form after the High Holidays.
It was quite a year: a Presidential election, a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, an insurrection on our Capitol where we added the Prayer for Our Country to our regular evening service and a war in Israel. More than ever, we needed to be together and to feel a sense of community. The Zoom minyan gave us that opportunity.
Thanks to all the participants who made the virtual minyan possible. Special thanks to Rabbi Greenstein, Lisa Z., Geoff, Michael Finck, John Lasiter and Andy Silver for their hard work, often behind the scenes.
Our monthly Wednesday night minyan will resume on October 14, 2020. Thereafter, it will be on the first Wednesday of the month. This year, however, we are making one change. Like everything else during the pandemic, we will be Zooming “Maariv” into your homes.
For those of you who are new to Shomrei, or have never attended this casual, ½ hour evening service, Andy and I welcome and encourage you to join us. And for those of us who have been physically attending this service in our living room, on the deck, or in our Sukkah for the past 12 years, thank you for keeping this intimate service flourishing. Continue reading
As we announced in our last update, the Westfield Fun Club, working with the International Rescue Committee, has asked us to “adopt” some refugee families in need of food and household essentials for the summer. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to commit to supporting three food-insecure families, at a cost of about $100 a week for eight weeks. Each of the families is headed by a single mom, and has one or two children.
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.
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.
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.
Hayan and Rabbi Greenstein
Here are two exciting developments —
- 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.