Social Action Committee at Temple Beth David
To reach out to the community and assist those in need as we seek to fulfill the call to social action expressed by the prophet Isaiah in Chapter 58:
Share your bread with the hungry and take the poor into your home...
Isaiah 58 History
The Isaiah 58 Social Action Committee at Temple Beth David –
What is Isaiah 58?
Isaiah 58 is Temple Beth David's Social Action Committee. Its name was chosen by Rabbi Leonard Troupp who issued an appeal to the congregation in the fall of 1996 during a High Holiday sermon. His thought was that a congregation of this size should give back to the community in an organized, substantial and consistent way. The group of people who responded a few days later agreed with him and were more than willing to devote their time and efforts to ensure that it actually happened.
I was part of that group and was one of the first to raise my hand when Rabbi Troupp asked for someone to lead the new committee. I must admit I raised it very tentatively. I was afraid to do it alone. Silly me. Although two other people did agree to help, I ended up as the primary and, ultimately, the only chairperson. However, I still did not do it alone for many of the attendees were (and still are) so dedicated that they have made Isaiah 58 well known on Long Island for its good works. I consider myself a facilitator. All the hard work is done by Isaiah 58's dedicated members.
Since its inception in1996, the committee membership has changed many times. People move away, enter a new phase of their lives, or, sadly, pass away. However, although many new people have joined us, some of our core–and essential members—have remained the same. And they all have one purpose in mind: To help others in our community who are less fortunate than we are.
Over the years, the Isaiah 58 Committee has had a significant impact on the lives of those in need. We started many projects and, although their leadership may have changed over the years, the projects have continued. It seems that they have a life of their own. And, as new people have joined us, their ideas have also become projects. (Full disclosure: When someone comes up with an idea at an Isaiah meeting, that person owns it. Sometimes this makes for very quiet meetings!)
I'm sure that many of you know about our projects, but you may not know how extensive they are. Most of you have heard or have participated in our largest project, Mitzvah Day But we have many projects that go on all year long, fulfilling our goal of providing assistance to those in need—and there are more and more of them every day as shown in the newspapers and on TV. You are welcome to participate in any and all of them. I've listed and described them for you, but if you need further information, please call me or one of the project chairs.
The Sharon Glasser PB&J Project is named after Sharon, who started it and made it the popular and successful project it remains today. The committee meets once a month from September to April and makes 300 sandwiches each time. In May, during Mitzvah Day, they make 500 to 1000. The sandwiches are given to the Family Service League in Huntington where they are distributed to anyone who comes to the facility or to the Community Food Council next door. In addition to the sandwiches, we provide juice, applesauce, or fruit to make a nutritionally complete meal.
Personal Care Kit (formerly Wash Kit) Project currently only meets on Mitzvah Day because they make so many kits that day that they are able to deliver 200 a month to Joe Dugan at St. Anne's in Brentwood for distribution to soup kitchens across Long Island.
Brentwood Youth Facility Project consists of a group of Isaiah 58 members who visit a state-sponsored facility for girls once a month. They read and write poetry and make crafts with the girls to help them realize that they can become a meaningful part of society.
Thanksgiving and Passover Food Collection/Distribution Projects help to provide holiday food for families who are unable to afford it. We ask the congregation and the Religious and Nursery Schools to bring in food and, then, if it is not sufficient, we purchase whatever is necessary to ensure that families can celebrate properly.
Bags of Fun Project packages small toys with pieces of candy and a note from Isaiah to be given to children who go to soup kitchens and food pantries with their parents. We make 125 bags each time and give them to LI Cares for distribution. This project has a Sunday session every other month.
Food Pantry Project is where most of our funds go. We purchase and deliver food to the Community Food Council in Huntington and, when we have enough money, we also give food to the Pederson-Krag Pantry in Smithtown. In addition, we deliver the food you bring to the bin in the temple foyer to the LI council of Churches for distribution island-wide.
Blankets for Children is one of our newer projects. Volunteers make baby blankets (and sometimes sweaters and caps), which are given to the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) for distribution on Long Island and in orphanages overseas.
Adopt-A-Soldier is another new project in which we collect and ship items that the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan need and want.
Mitzvah Day is Isaiah 58's largest and best-known project. When we started it, we didn't know if any one would come. It has been such a huge success that it has kept on growing over the years. Now in its 13th year, this project involves over 200 temple members, who are learning the joy that the Isaiah 58 Committee has known for many, many years – the joy that only making a difference in someone else's life can bring.
Children's Relief is our brand new project and will start this fall. We will be collecting items for foster children in this country and for children in orphanages overseas. (Please read my article in this edition of HaKol to learn more about it.)
I am fairly certain that we are the only social action committee in the country that uses the name, "Isaiah 58." And now you know why. We are unique. But we are only unique because of all the dedicated people who help. I sincerely hope that you will become one of us.
Judith (Judy) Blum, Chair, Isaiah 58 Social Action Committee