At Temple Israel, there is a culture of caring for, and about, each other. Caring is contagious, and being there for each other creates a more connected and compassionate congregation. TI Cares ensures that support and assistance are available to everyone within our synagogue family. We offer support and help in times of sorrow and to offer congratulations in times of joy. TI Cares is supported by the Marilyn and Mike Grossman Caring Community Fund at Temple Israel.
Who We are
We are Temple Israel’s internal mitzvah corps; a caring community of members connecting with members during times of celebration, grief, joy, and challenge.
What We Do
We do 5 major things each year:
- We assemble and deliver beautiful gift bags containing a jar of honey and a note to members who have lost loved ones over the past year. We do this around the High Holy Days.
- We assemble and mail out fun Chanukah care packages to our Temple Israel college kids. We do this in partnership with the teen program.
- We assemble and deliver Mishloach Manot (Purim goody bags) to members who might not be physically able to get to Temple Israel and who might feel isolated from the community. We partner with the Religious School children and their families to bring a little light and love into others’ lives.
- We compose and send hand written condolence notes to members who have lost loved ones throughout the year.
- We organize Meal Trains which enable us to easily sign up (using an online calendar program) to deliver homemade or store-bought meals to members who are going through a challenging time in their lives.
How We Do It
"Acts of Kindness" Army
We have assembled what we call our “Acts of Kindness Army.” We are growing a list of people who are willing to consider doing one of these acts of kindness when their schedule permits. We encourage people to match themselves with tasks that fit into their schedules, life styles, geographical locations, and job preferences. Needs vary from month to month and include: delivering honey jars, sending condolence notes, delivering meals, and assembling Chanukah care packages for college students. There are no meetings. no committees, no obligations that do not fit into your schedule. It is a great way to get involved in Temple Israel’s caring community on your own terms! There is never any pressure or commitment: only opportunities that are presented to the group. One of our mottos is, “many hands make light work!” No one individual has to take on a lot of work or worry; if we each do a little, together we can do a lot! The larger our army is, the more the tasks are spread out and the more opportunities everyone has to help a fellow member and strengthen the bonds of our caring community.
Why It Works
It works because we have designed it to integrate with the lives people are living. We recognize that everyone is very busy and that no one has time for a lot of meetings. Therefore, our work is not centered around meetings! It is done through actions, which we coordinate through email and phone calls and occasional optional in-person gatherings when we need to assemble gifts. We try to “localize” the work; we ask people to do things in their own neighborhoods or where they work. This is both convenient and it helps people connect to TI members who are also their neighbors!
It works because there is something for everyone. If you like to cook, you can. If you don’t or are too busy, no problem! Maybe you can deliver a few honey jars in your neighborhood. If you don’t drive, you can write condolence notes from your own home on your own schedule. Maybe you are free on the night we are assembling the Chanukah packages. That’s the beauty of creating a large pool of potential volunteers; there is always someone who can rise to the occasion.
Most importantly, it works because it builds real connections between members. When a person from TI Cares delivers a honey jar or a meal, when a college kid receives a little Chanukah love from Temple Israel, when a grieving person receives a heartfelt note, people feel seen, heard, cared for, nurtured, and like they matter, because they do. The people on both ends of the act of kindness benefit from the action. Many people who have been on the receiving end of an act of kindness have turned around and joined our group, wanting to help make another person feel as cared for by their fellow Temple Israel members as they did.
Although not managed by TI Cares, you may also be interested in our communtity Google group. The mission for firstname.lastname@example.org is to generate conversations and connections that will strengthen our Temple Israel community. To join our Google group send your name and e-mail to email@example.com.
Email our Co-Chairs!
If you know of someone who could use our help; a family going through a difficult time who could use some meal deliveries, a college kid we can surprise at Chanukah, a person in need of a Purim delivery, please let us know at TICares@tisrael.org or email one of our co-chairs below!
Diamant, Anita. Saying Kaddish. BM 712 .D53199.
Explains Kaddish, Shiva, and Yahrzeit customs. For readers who are paying a shiva visit for the first time, this book provides suggestions for what to expect, say, bring, and do. There is extensive and sensitive treatment of questions on how to bury and mourn non-Jews within a Jewish community.
Greenberg, Sidney. A Treasury of Comfort. BF 575 .G7G68 1994.
This anthology of short poems and meditations on loss would be good to read aloud or with someone. The short selections are so diverse that there is sure to be some helpful word for any reader.
Heilman, Samuel C. When a Jew Dies. BM712 .H45
More scholarly than purely practical, this book provides an overview of death rituals in Jewish law and a detailed understanding of how a chevra kaddisha prepares a dead body for burial.
Kay, Alan. A Jewish Book of Comfort. BM712 .K385. Over 175 inspirational readings to comfort the mourner. Explains traditions and rituals of mourning
Levine, Aaron. To Comfort the Bereaved : A Guide for Mourners and Those Who Visit Them. BM712 .L43
Topics in this practical book include the traditions for the meal of condolence, visitation obligations, visiting the house of mourning, and what to say/what not to say. The book is laid out as an outline.
To Honor and Respect: A Program and Resource Guide for Congregations on Sacred Aging HQ1063.6 .A39
Discusses how communities can provide support for caregivers and create new Jewish rituals around aging.
Laurie Pass, and Ellin Reisner, eds. Family Caregiver Handbook: Finding Elder Care Resources in Massachusetts. HQ1064.U5B6 2007. This handbook is designed with the caregiver in mind. It poses basic questions caregivers need to ask – and answer – as they design elder care plans and make elder care choices. It explains how services are organized, and has a glossary to define some unfamiliar elder care terms. It is a “gateway” to key elder care organizations across the Commonwealth, providing telephone numbers, locations and website addresses so that caregivers can find the most appropriate resources closest to their own community. Two of the authors, Ann Bookman and Ellin Reisner, are Temple Israel members.
How To Visit the Sick in Judaism
A rabbi offers advice about how to perform the mitzvah of visiting the sick with wisdom, discretion, and sensitivity. By Rabbi Bradley Artson: Abridged from It’s A Mitzvah!
Promise to Mary: A Story of Faith in Action. HV530 .J4
Here is the story of Faith in Action, the acclaimed nationwide grant program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that brings together Americans of all faiths to provide volunteer care and support to people in their communities who are confined to their homes becomes of a chronic health condition or disability. Through a series of revealing in-depth interviews…”Promise to Mary” provides a unique and often profoundly moving glimpse into the lives of some of our most isolated and forgotten neighbors – as well as the remarkable volunteers, from all faiths and all walks of life, who have come to their aid.
Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Pic Fox. A small boy tries to discover the meaning of memory so he can restore that of an elderly friend.
Polacco, Patricia. Mrs. Katz and Tush. Pic Pol. A young African-American boy, Larnel, visits Mrs. Katz, looks after her, and gives her a little tail-less cat whom she names Tush. As their lives entwine, Mrs. Katz and Larnel share food and holidays and the knowledge that their people’s pasts both involved slavery and discrimination.
How to Be a Host, How to Be a Guest by Rabbi Louis Jacobs.
Jewish ethical literature provides practical, down-to-earth guidelines on how to behave towards one’s guests and towards one’s hosts. Jacobs’ sources real hospitality is more than just having friends visit in your home. It involves directly providing for wayfarers and others who might be in need of a meal and of people with whom to share it.