Tikkun Olam Resource Guide

Tikkun Olam Resource Guide: Opportunities to Make a Difference

Ongoing Programs:

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network
  • High Holiday Food Drive
  • Mitzvah Day
  • Christmas Holiday Hospital Assistance Program
  • Women for Women International
  • TNT Environment and Energy Sub-Committee
  • Toni’s Kitchen; TNT Ramblers
  • Mica Moca Café
  • Bnai Mitzvah - Mitzvah Program
  • Midnight Run
  • Temple Rummage Sale
  • Mazon
  • Mazon Collection Box
  • Blood Drive

 Programs in the Planning Stage:

  • Home Corp
  • 1stSundays: A program aimed at alleviating hunger in our midst
  • TNT Free Community Services Program, providing free medical, social and legal services

Mitzvah Missions

  • JVS Darfur Resettlement Project
  • Toni’s Kitchen
  • Human Needs Food Pantry
  • Fair Trade Coffee
  • Gardening at TNT
  • Hazon / Food Network / Food Cooperative
  • Tutoring those in need
  • Bloomfield Neighbor to Neighbor Volunteer Program

Issues Needing Our Attention and Action:

  • Sukkot/Farmworkers Project
  • Montclair Bloomfield Interfaith Community Service Corp
Interfaith Hospitality Network

The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County, NJ has, for more than two decades, helped homeless families – parents and children – who are in need of shelter.  They provide emergency shelter and meals 365 days a year through a network of over 60 churches and synagogues in Essex County. Nearly 30 of these serve as host sites and almost 40 others provide volunteers and other assistance. Three to five families (up to 14 people) stay at a different house of worship each week where dedicated volunteers express hospitality by providing a safe and comfortable temporary home for our families. They furnish sleeping quarters and a hospitality room where guests relax, socialize, do homework and watch television.  A coordinator at each congregation is responsible for scheduling approximately 50 volunteers to prepare meals, serve as evening and overnight hosts, coordinate activities, organize supplies and assist guests as needed.

During the day, families can stay at the Family Service & Resource Center to meet with their case manager, access phones and computers and use the shower facilities. After school, children return to the Center to do their homework or play before they’re taken back to the host congregation.

While they’re in the IHN shelter network, the staff works with moms and dads on a plan that addresses the issues that led to their homelessness. Goals are set and adults are compassionately guided to take the steps necessary to find a permanent home and become self-sufficient.  The IHN Home for Good program allows them to do just that. As a result of a strategic partnership and government grants, select families live in apartments supported by Interfaith Hospitality Network while continuing to work with an IHN case manager to achieve their goals for independence.

TNT had hosted IHN families in the past but has not done so in the last couple of years. Instead our members have volunteered at other houses of worship. This year, however, we will be hosting once again during the third week in August with some assistance from other congregations. We are obviously looking for volunteers to help during this week to participate in this wonderful and much needed Mitzvah. Please contact Sharyn Mandell at sharynknows@aol.com.

High Holiday Food Drive

On Rosh Hashanah we distribute shopping bags and encourage all members of TNT to bring these bags back full of food on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, members return their bags filled to the brim with food. The bags are then loaded into a truck generously donated each year by Don and Betsy Lembeck. The next day volunteers unload what usually averages around 400 bags at the Human Needs Food Pantry. These donations provide food for patrons of the pantry for about 2 weeks.

The growing need in our community for food assistance has prompted us to look for other means of collecting food to meet this need. That is why we are developing the 1st Sunday program and will encourage our congregants to drop off food regularly in the Mazon box in the lobby. You can find out more about these programs elsewhere in this resource guide.

Christmas Holiday Hospital Assistance Program

TNT members man the volunteer desks at Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson on December 24 and 25, allowing Christian employees and volunteers to take off for their holiday. Literally dozens of people are involved. Organized by Harvey & Debby Morginstin.

Women for Women International

Women for Women: TNT has become actively involved in Women for Women International, which helps thousands of women in war-torn regions, currently in eight countries, transform their lives by providing financial and emotional support, jobs skills training, rights awareness, leadership education and access to business skills, capital and markets. Over two dozen women have been sponsored by TNT members, at $27/month (less than $1/day) along with the community having raised over $4,000 initially to support the overall organization. This project is being organized by Marcia Kramer.

Toni's Kitchen; TNT Ramblers

The TNT Ramblers are a music group made up of Ner Tamid congregants. They play once a month for the patrons of Toni’s Kitchen, providing a wonderful ambience for people who may be struggling.

Midnight Run

Our TNT Youth Group has participated for many years in the Midnight Run, in New York, usually in January. They make bagged lunches, collect warm clothes and with adult volunteers connect with advocates for the homeless and drive around New York City starting at 10 pm giving out their supplies to people living on the street.

Temple Rummage Sale

The Temple Rummage Sale is an annual event providing clothing at minimal prices to dozens of needy families in our area. The unsold coats are donated to the Human Needs Food Pantry. Everything else left over is donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Mazon

Founded in 1985, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, is a national nonprofit organization that allocates donations from the Jewish community to prevent and alleviate hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Each year, MAZON grants over $4 million to more than 300 carefully screened hunger-relief agencies, including emergency food providers, food banks, multi-service organizations and advocacy groups that seek long-term solutions to the hunger problem.

MAZON (“food” in Hebrew) believes its dual purpose is to provide for those who are hungry today and to address the systemic causes of hunger and poverty, both domestically and globally. Although grants are provided to many organizations serving the Jewish poor, in keeping with the best of Jewish tradition MAZON believes it is important to respond to all who are in need.

In keeping with that tradition, Mazon also strives to educate and raise the consciousness of the Jewish community regarding its obligation to alleviate hunger and its causes. 

MAZON is supported by over 100,000 donors who incorporate social justice and hunger relief as crucial components of their everyday lives.

At TNT, everyone planning a simcha, or celebration, is advised of the guidelines of donating a portion of the cost of the food to Mazon (historically at least 3%).  Some families choose to make the donation to a local food bank or pantry instead.

Mazon Collection Box

Mazon Box: We have a box in the hallway across from the office where people can drop off food donations. Considering the ever increasing need for food assistance in our area we would like to remind everyone to bring in some food donation as often as you can when coming to Temple. Debbie Miller has been volunteering her time to take the donations to the Human Needs Food Pantry and make our congregation aware of any special needs the Pantry may have.

HomeCorp

HOMECorp is a community-based non-profit organization, formed in 1988 by concerned residents and religious institutions in Montclair to improve and develop housing there. Its mission is to provide safe, permanent affordable housing in Montclair and to promote neighborhood development. As an organization, HOMECorp seeks to strengthen the community foundation by assisting families who are largely disenfranchised from the costly housing market. Some of Montclair's low - and middle - income families, including senior citizens on fixed incomes, now have the opportunity to live safely in beautifully restored homes.

HOMECorp identifies distressed properties and, with the support of public and private funders, returns them to their former splendor as affordable homes. In fact, HOMECorp is the only community-based nonprofit organization in Montclair that spends all of its time and resources providing affordable housing.

Since its inception, HOMECorp has acquired, renovated and sold 34 units of housing and rented 49 others. These once barely habitable buildings over the years have housed in excess of 300 homeowners and tenants, transforming a neighborhood of deteriorating rental units to one characterized by new energy and the optimism of first-time homeowners. That in turn has helped to shore up entire neighborhoods and has inspired private development of adjoining properties, further improving the housing stock.

With the hands-on assistance of local residents, donations of materials and the support of friendly lending institutions, professionals and groups of Montclair volunteers have contributed their time, expertise and financial assistance to rebuild houses purchased by HOMECorp for resale and rental.

HOMECorp Programs:

Acquire and develop substandard housing and rehabilitates it for low, moderate and middle income households
Manage 49 rental units in-house including leasing and property maintenance  

HOMECorp Services:

Provide housing counseling
Offers HUD certified first time homebuyer seminars featuring a variety of topics including budgeting and credit, the mortgage application process, negotiating the contract of sale, the closing process and homeowner responsibilities.  

TNT’s role: For the past two years on Mitzvah Day TNT volunteers have helped refurbish and upkeep gardens and homes owned by HOMECorp. We will be doing the same this year. In addition, we are also looking into developing an ongoing volunteer association throughout the year.

1st Sundays

“Of all the pollutions we face, the worst is poverty.”  Indira Ghandi

Hunger is a symptom of poverty and economic struggle, and is not confined to poor third world countries.

In the United States nearly 40 million people, including 14 million children suffer from hunger or live on the edge of hunger.  Over 10% of elderly Americans over the age of 65 live in poverty.  Regionally and locally the figures are staggering.  These people are our neighbors and friends.  It is an imperative that we take a more active role in helping to alleviate this human tragedy in our midst.

The following is a concept that may help in this endeavor.

It is called 1st Sundays. It is a program we will pioneer as part of Mitzvah Day this year. We intend to continue it in the future with the hope that it can grow into an Interfaith Community Effort to Alleviate Hunger in Our Midst with participation from other congregations in our area.

Its goal is threefold:

  • To educate our congregation and the community at large about the magnitude of the problem both locally, regionally and nationally.
  • To advocate for change through community and political initiatives.
  • To collect food for the local food banks, pantries and soup kitchens so that they may distribute it to those in need.

The Program: On the first Sunday of each month teams of people (individuals or families) will take turns for several hours manning tables at the local supermarkets, distributing information about “Hunger in Our Midst” and asking shoppers if they would pick up one or more of the items the local food pantries or soup kitchens have indicated they need. People will come to know that this is an ongoing venture, that we will be providing updates on how things are going in our community and will come to understand the importance of their contributions to their community and their neighbors in particular.

The Logistics: There are several ways this can be organized. If we are doing this ourselves we only need to get volunteers, schedule their times and arrange for the pick up and delivery of the food to the pantries, food banks and soup kitchens. If this develops into a multi-congregational endeavor, we can go one of several ways;

  • Have each congregation do a specific month and take care of all the organizing and scheduling for that month.
  • Have specific congregations be responsible for a specific supermarket on a given month. And schedule the year in that way.
  • Have all volunteers be in a pool and work together as part of supermarket teams for a given month at a given store. This would promote a greater sense of overall community and camaraderie, but would be eminently more difficult to organize.

We would need one or two overall coordinators and a ‘captain’ at each congregation to be in charge of rounding up and organizing his or her people each month or when your congregation would be in charge of running the entire program on a specific 1stSunday.

At TNT we will be doing a practice run, so to speak, when we run the program on Mitzvah Day. At that time, and leading up to the day, Fred Pressman will be the program coordinator. We will need other volunteers to help plan and run the day in addition to those volunteers, individuals, couples or families who will be manning the stores.

JVS Darfur Resettlement Project

JVS (Jewish Vocational Services of MetroWest, NJ) is a nonprofit, community-based health and human service organization, annually delivering a wide array of personalized services on a nonsectarian basis to nearly 18,000 individuals age 14 to 100+ throughout New Jersey and business-to-business services to hundreds of companies across the State.

It has received a federal grant through HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Aid Society-the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the US) that will enable it to take five to six Darfurian families out of the refugee camps in Chad for resettlement here in Northern New Jersey.  They will be able to provide support in the form of case management, translation, English classes, and job placement assistance.  They are turning to the area’s synagogues for help in welcoming these families with home furnishings, clothing, and all manner of things needed by mothers, fathers, and children as they settle into their new homes.

JVS would hope that congregations like ours can work with them and assist the new refugees by adopting a family ourselves or in concert with another synagogue.  The first family, presently in Cairo, Egypt, has been temporarily held up on its relocation to the US.  It consists of three small children ages 2, 4 and 6, and a mother and father with high hopes and little English.  JVS will be sourcing apartments and making connections with schools and services.  They are asking us to create a warm and well-equipped home for their arrival.  Think mattresses, bedding, small appliances, dishes, clothing, diapers etc… a detailed list will be provided and a volunteer coordinator will be available to answer questions.

The crisis in Darfur, with all the turmoil going on today, still ranks as one of, if not the worst, humanitarian crises in the world today.  This is an opportunity for us, through hands-on participation, to make an enormous difference in these families’ lives here in New Jersey.

As for a time frame, this is being written on March 28, 2011.  We will be updating you as we get further information from JVS.  In the meantime we could use a group of people to help organize our effort as we avail ourselves of this opportunity.  If you are interested please contact Fred Pressman at shalom7107@gmail.com.

Toni's Kitchen

Toni’s Kitchen is a food ministry at St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, New Jersey, where as many as 70 to 80 “guests” are offered warm hospitality while being served a hot, nutritious luncheon every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:30am-1pm. It has been in continuous operation as a non-profit, charitable entity since it’s founding in 1982 with the same mission; “To Serve Our Guests”. At Toni’s Kitchen every effort is made to provide an atmosphere of warmth and respect for those among us who find themselves in need of our hospitality and services.”

Toni’s Kitchen offers a wide range of services to its guests, including its signature four-course hot lunches, food takeaway, health screening programs and a groundbreaking computer literacy program.

They also offer our guests access to a living room on public holidays, a lending library on wheels and health & survival guidance in “one–on-one” ministry program.

Toni’s Kitchen has ongoing needs for volunteers to provide assistance in a variety of ways. Volunteers are needed on an ongoing basis for the following:

  • Weekly preparation of meals, serving guests, etc. at the meals provided Thursday through Saturday.
  • Delivery of donated food from local Whole Foods. On a weekly basis, there is a need to pick up food from Whole Foods (on Bloomfield Avenue) and deliver it to Toni’s Kitchen. There may be other pick-ups/           deliveries that are available as well.
  • Regular purchasing of various items; plates, napkins, cups, utensils; weekly perishable items, cheeses, vegetables; and regular delivery of other items such as margarine, meats, canned foods, sauces, etc.

How can TNT become a regular contributor?

  • Organize a group of individuals and families sharing the responsibility for delivering one or several items.  Sharing or rotating the responsibility for pickup and delivery would keep a group of members involved, including children, and permit the sharing of the load.  It would also provide a built-in network should a need arises when someone was unable to meet their commitment for a particular week. Commitment would be for an agreed-upon period of time. Resources: someone to coordinate and set up a responsibility list and calendar, and send out reminders.
  • Support Toni’s Living Room- a place for guests to come on holidays, when there is nowhere else to go. Background: Toni’s Kitchen guests, some homeless, some not, have nowhere to go on certain holidays, when public buildings are closed. Toni’s Kitchen opens its ‘Living Room’ on these days. Need: a group of volunteers who are willing to spend an afternoon at Toni’s Kitchen, playing games, watching TV, movies etc. with the guests on various national holidays throughout the year.