I’ve seen people post to Facebook for help in a variety of areas with great success. Sometimes people ask for child raising techniques or professional services or where to get dinner in Budapest and amazingly someone on Facebook has an answer. I’d like to try something similar in two areas for Kol Emeth.
Question 1: How can we at Kol Emeth better help solve the problems of hunger and homelessness in our area?
Hunger in Santa Clara County remains stubbornly high. Second Harvest reports approximately 250,000 clients a year, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are food insecure in our area. Further, the high cost of housing means many are homeless or living out of their cars or RVs. When I drive on Park or El Camino and see all the RVs permanently parked, it breaks my heart. A few years ago, we found a bold way to make a difference by hosting a Men’s Shelter under Elizabeth Eastman’s leadership. The City of Palo Alto, in our third year of offering the program, got in our way and the Shelter went elsewhere.
So, how can we at Kol Emeth make a meaningful impact on this challenge in our area? How can we do something that invites the incredible volunteer energy from our community to do good? That Shelter was wonderful for us. It built community, it gave us an outlet for blessing, and it focused our mission around helping those in need. Are there other such programs or opportunities in our area?
Question 2: How can we build connections among our membership and the people of Israel?
The deepest Zionism stems from Ahavat Israel, love for the people and place of Israel. Under Barbara Schapira’s leadership, we created a connection with the Arava in the south of Israel. We helped build a medical center and we created an arts exchange programwith residents there. It helped establish some human connections and create a sense of a place and a people in the minds of our adults and young people.
Prior to our partnership with the Arava, Barbara and the IAC organized first an oral history project of people’s Israel stories and then a picture collection of people’s Israel photography. All these events had a human connection, a fun quality, and built emotional connections with Israel and Israelis.
I’d like to continue such work. What could we do as a community to engage with the people of Israel again? Is there a good Zionist project like helping build that medical center where we can be involved in the building of the Land? I loved that project because we brought healing to Israel and we helped address in a small way the housing crisis there by making the Arava more appealing and safe. Any ideas now?
I’d be grateful for help, or resources, or ideas. If you have contacts who might be able to help, let me know that as well. If you are interested in being involved in either of these areas, that too is a great need.
I feel passionate about our community being dedicated to good work at home and building loving bonds with Israel. I’m hoping to use this forum to help us find pathways to blessing in our shared mission.
Rabbi David Booth