Social action and community service play an important role in the lives of many Humanistic Jews. Our congregation regularly participates in activities that are aimed at helping others and making the world a better place.
For example, each year the congregation collects several hundred pounds of food at our High Holiday services, as well as in front of local supermarkets, for donation to the Interfaith Food Pantry. We have also improved the trail system in Jonathan’s Woods in Denville, collected winter coats to donate to Jersey Cares, visited and delivered care packages to home-bound senior citizens, donated suits and business attire to Dress for Success of Morris County, as well as many other programs
B’Nai Mitzvah Projects
As part of their Bar and Bat Mitzvah requirements, our students to take an active role in social action and community service. Each of them are responsible for a service project that they plan, complete, and report on. Some examples of recent projects include:
Bat Mitzvah Project Promotes a Clean Environment
A Kahal Chaverim student who has always placed large value on the environment and the safety of humanity is helping to organize fellow classmates to participate in her town’s Community Clean Up Day. This day is dedicated to cleaning all public areas in town, and requires the volunteer efforts of many. The student is also collecting donations for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), which mobilizes the Jewish community to conserve energy, increase sustainability, and advocate for policies that increase energy efficiency.
13-Year-Old Strives to Give Girls the Gift of Literacy
As a girl who has been an avid reader with a love of books her whole life, this Bat Mitzvah student is supporting an organization called Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org) and helping underprivileged girls with little or no access to books and an education. Room to Read is a nonprofit organization that seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world; by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education in countries such as Laos and Nepal. For her project she had a book drive at the congregation to raise books to sell at a used book sale. The teen and her local Central New Jersey chapter have hosted many events (such as the used book sale) and together raised enough money so far to send thirty-two very deserving girls to school. The website for her local chapter is: www.briddl1.wix.com/shs-baskingridge
Pitch In For Baseball
A Kahal Chaverim student is collecting new and gently–used baseball and softball equipment for the non-profit organization Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB). PIFB supports kids all over the world who enjoy the game of baseball. Everywhere baseball is played, it becomes an important part of the culture and teaches kids many important lessons like teamwork and sportsmanship. It also gives kids the chance to be active, get fit and have fun. Since 2005, Pitch In For Baseball has been helping kids in under-resourced communities gain access to baseball and softball. With the support of collected donations, PIFB has been able to donate more than $3 million worth of equipment to over 170,000 kids in need in over 75 countries around the world and 300 communities in the US. For example, in January 2014, PIFB visited Israel and saw firsthand the growth of youth baseball all over the country with equipment donated by PIFB and the network of supporters they have around the US.
Teen Raises Awareness of Dating Violence and Funds for Prevention
For her B’nai Mitzvah project, a Kahal Chaverim student helped to raise awareness regarding dating violence, which affects one in five teens, through the Jersey Battered Women’s Service (www.jbws.org). The teen hosted a presentation on dating violence prevention at her home and collected arts and crafts supplies for the children living in the JBWS safe house. She also organized a team for the “Safe Dating Challenge” 5-K run/1-mile walk at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown.
Aiding Moroccan Orphans
This Bat Mitzvah student educated her friends and their families regarding the hardships and needs of Moroccan orphans and unwed mothers and their children. Through email campaigns, she collected toothbrushes, toothpaste, school supplies, clothing, scanning thermometers and other necessities. She also organized a bake sale and lemonade stand fund-raising effort. In August 2010, she went to Morocco and delivered the items to six orphanages, one home to children living in precarious situations and another home to unwed mothers and their babies. The student was named a distinguished honoree by The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation of New Jersey.