To be effective, to make a difference, to have significance, that’s something you could say we all want.
We have had a couple of months of real social upheaval – between the American elections, our Canadian government reneging on many promises, murders and attacks on minority communities. We doubt our elected leaders’ sincerity, and mutter and mumble about everything that is wrong. Or we make jokes and circulate cartoons and funny lines and try to make light of things.
And yet social action – action to produce or encourage change in our society – is one of the key values of Reform Judaism. “Tikun Olam” Heal the world.
There are a number of areas in which Temple Israel can be active, some already under way, others to think seriously about. In the realm of health, we can all do the swab test for bone marrow and organ donation. We can participate in the new initiative to improve Palliative Care in Ottawa which is a focus of Social Action right now. We can give blood.
For immigrants, it is perhaps time to look beyond the family we have brought to Canada and apply more pressure on the Federal Government to put action where their words are.
The House voted unanimously to help the Yazidis refugees in Iraq in October of 2016, yet very few have arrived in this country. Phone calls and letters to our MPs will help.
Our environment is a huge issue for so many, and yet the steps we can take tend to be small, and local. Temple now participates in recycling on a larger scale. There is a small cost involved, but it is worth it to know that our garbage is sent to the right locations. Our thanks to Steve and Jenn Elliot for taking care of this on an ongoing basis.
There are many more areas – homelessness, mental health, education, indigenous issues – where there are opportunities for Tikkun Olam. If you have a pressing interest, let us know, and help us plan educational and action programs.
One synagogue in the USA has a monthly book club on books of social action importance – prisons, immigration, voter’s rights and so forth. Should we do something similar?
Our recent Retreat for Board members and Committee Chairs made it clear that working together as a community is a very important value for Temple Israel. Well, we can pray together, study together and we can work on healing the world, together. May it be so. Ken yehi ratzon.
About our President…
Coming from a Conservative Synagogue background in Vancouver, I joined Temple Israel in about 1987 when my children first expressed an interest in things Jewish outside our home and family events. I came to Temple because I had been invited to events here – bar mitzvahs, social events – and I found the people welcoming and the services lively and thought provoking. I thought the Rabbi at the time spoke well and engaged the congregation, so I was sold. My children, Dan and Sylvie, were both confirmed at Temple and we came to consider Temple folks our family in Ottawa. Like family members, we don’t always agree, but we find a way to function and to grow together.
I was drafted to teach in the Religious School for a few years. The students I had in Kindergarten are now doctors and teachers themselves! Then I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors, first as a member, then Secretary. I have shared so many events and celebrations with Temple Israel – seders, Purim spiels, bnai mitzvot, weddings, choir, quilting, conferences, concerts and more. When asked to serve as President, I was concerned that there was a huge learning curve, but the first few months have proven that we are a very forward looking, progressive group supporting each other in our growth. I look forward to the new Vision, to warmly inviting new people into our Congregation, and to seeing Reform Judaism on a strong path in the coming years.