Organ Donor Shabbat
On Friday evening, November 13, 1998, Temple Hesed dedicated its Shabbat service to the cause of organ and tissue donation. The Social Action Committee planned and organized the program in order to heighten awareness regarding organ and tissue donation, to educate and enlighten the congregation on the Jewish position on organ donation, and to encourage family discussion on the issue. The congregation invited members who had been personally affected by the lack of sufficient donors to participate in the program. At the service, donor family members were honored with gold ribbons, while recipients wore red ribbons. Materials were passed out as people entered the sanctuary and the rabbi's sermon dealt with the Jewish view toward organ donation. The congregation, inspired by the "Matan Chaim" material issued by the UAHC, intends to make this an annual event to be held during National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness month.
*Recipient of the Irving J. Fain Social Action Honorable Mention Award (1999)
Work with your local Red Cross chapter to organize one or two blood drives at your synagogue each year. Many members who would not otherwise go to a Red Cross center will come to the synagogue to donate blood. Be sure to advertise the blood drive in the local community to maximize donations.
Bone Marrow Matching Program
This program can be two-fold. Your congregation can raise money to cover the cost of a bone marrow matching process. The project may also include a drive to test and register potential bone marrow donors. Because this program does require some careful planning, you will want to maximize the number of donors for your efforts. Consider working with other area congregations and Jewish institutions and organizations. You may also want to consult with a local hospital.
Free Medical Equipment and Medical Services
The project Yad Sarah lends medical equipment free of charge to people throughout Israel and saves Israel's economy nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year. Yad Sarah has also kept hundreds of people from unnecessarily moving into old age homes. The project can be replicated in the United States in coordination with a local hospital. In accordance with the principle of Yad Sarah, a group of physicians in Boston are developing the Boston Jewish Medically Uninsured Project which does a mitzvah by providing services free of charge to uninsured citizens.
Health Fair Extraordinaire
For the past three years, Congregation Beth Emeth (Albany, NY) has hosted a community-wide Health Fair. The goal of this social action event is to provide free medical screenings, medical educational lectures and health-related information to the residents of the Albany Capital District, especially to those who otherwise have no such opportunities. This has grown to be the largest health fair in the region, with more than 3,000 people attending throughout the day.
Over 40 Congregation Beth Emeth physicians and health care providers volunteer their time to offer half-hour lectures on a variety of topics and to assist with over 24 types of medical screenings. All four area hospitals are involved, too. In addition, over 60 pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes, health-related organizations and health insurers sponsor information booths with free handouts and samples.
Free transportation is made available from the underprivileged areas of the city. The event is extensively promoted and endorsed by the local Black ministerial organization. In the past, the Wilbour Street Baptist Temple's choir has performed during the afternoon hours. Local newspaper, television, and radio stations have also provided comprehensive coverage of the event. The mayor of Albany and other dignitaries lend their support at press conferences. Over 50 temple volunteers and the youth group, in addition to the health professionals, help with food preparations, set-up, and welcoming, in order to make this event a huge success. Because the program has grown much in size since its inception, the congregation is exploring the possibility of opening a satellite program at a local Black community center. For more information, please contact Congregation Beth Emeth.
*Recipient of the Irving J. Fain Social Action Award
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