Pirke Avot 2:19-- “Rabbi Elazar said: Be diligent in the study of Torah. Know what to answer a heretic. Know before Whom you toil. And faithful is your Employer that God will pay you the reward for your labor.”

December 1, 2017

13 Kislev 5778

Shabbat Vayishlach Gen. 32:4-36:43

Dear Friends,

            For those who took the time to come and celebrate at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, it was great seeing you there.  I appreciate the support.  Though the main objective of the service is to bring together a wide range of people from the Canton Jewish/Christian/Muslim community, there is also a small, but important objective as well: to take up a collection to support Thanksgiving Baskets Canton.  With the generosity of those present, we raised over $2,500 from the approximate 300 people present.  We aren’t the only group helping those in need at Thanksgiving.  There are other groups distributing food and cooking dinners.  There are restaurants that feed so many and organizations that come out to help.  It is beautiful to read and hear these stories, but they aren’t time bound.

            Thanks to the efforts of Diana Collum at Temple Israel, we prepare and serve at least three meals through Urban Ark in downtown Canton.  One meal is always on the Sunday before Christmas and one Sunday is on Easter.  She usually has no problem getting volunteers to help, but we need a few volunteers to help on Dec. 24.  The time commitment is from about 3-6 pm. 

I am aware of another group of friends that gets together and serves an amazing meal once a year on a Saturday at Calvary Mission.  I am grateful to those that organize and work this event.

As a Jewish community, we support our Family Service Food Pantry with our High Holy Day contributions of food, paper goods (paper is always great!), and money.  Thank you to the staff of our Jewish Family Services for all the work they do to support Jewish families in need.  The gift dreidels this year disappeared so quickly from the foyer Chanukiah.  Thank you to all who took a dreidel and returned the gift.

I know it seems that we are always asking for money, hands, hearts, and souls, but this is who we are.  Tikkun Olam—repairing the world—is at the heart of what it means to be a Jew in the world we live in today.  Ritual grounds us in our Jewish lives and helps us with meaningful time.  Tikkun Olam explodes our Jewish soul into the world around us.  It gives meaningful substance to the good deeds we do.

As many of you know, Temple Israel has a Habitat for Humanity crew team.  There are 14 different people on my list of workers (15 if you count Tali the shlicha from West Hartford who helped out on Wednesday with our Canton/Akron shlichim who came to work that day).  I so appreciate the time and energy that they give toward creating safe, warm, affordable homes.  Last Wednesday we worked on our first rehab house.  Along with the two professionals from Habitat, we had 10 volunteers pulling old nails out of the stairs or out of the walls, installing insulation, putting up drywall, and doing some prep work on the walls.  I am sure I missed a few things, but for 6 hours we worked without a complaint and as a team.  With God’s help, by Dec. 22, a family will take possession of this 3- bedroom, one bathroom (I don’t remember seeing a bathroom on the first floor) home and breathe new life into it.  In the meantime, our Team will have moved on to three other homes to do baseboard and casing.  Again, if you want to join our team, no tools or expertise required, just a day here or there, please let me know.

Our verse at the top concludes, “And faithful is your Employer that God will pay you the reward for your labor.”  The reward for the labor of making food available for those in need or creating warm, safe shelter is in the pure act of doing.  Thank you to everyone who does and we always welcome more hands and hearts.

When you light your Shabbat candles this week, light one to remind us of our ability to shine light into this world with our gifts of goodness and caring.  Light the other candle to help lead all people to acts of goodness and caring.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jon Adland