Community Contact Information:
Dallas, TX 75225
- To identify Temple Emanu-El families and/or individuals with loved ones serving in the U.S. military.
- To educate and raise the awareness about the Jewish presence in the U.S. military.
- To provide an ongoing support group for those families with loved ones serving in the U.S. military.
Temple Emanue-El's Senior Rabbi realized the extent to which synagogue families with children in the military needed recognition and support, so he charged the Caring Congregation Department and volunteers with creating an initiative. A first meeting was convened with a few of these families, the rabbis, staff and lay leaders to hear what the needs may be and decide on the three goals listed above. They wanted their efforts to culminate on the Shabbat near Veterans Day.
From there, the lay leaders included requests for other members to identify themselves as military families in Temple Emanu-El's monthly newsletter, weekly online newsletter, website and annual membership update form.
To prepare for the Honoring Our Own Shabbat, a volunteer committee was formed. The volunteer coordinator who led the committee contacted a videographer to tape the Shabbat service and some of the conversations after at the oneg. Volunteers contacted all the identified military families and collected pictures. A display was created for the oneg and for the permanent case in one of Temple Emanu-El's hallways. During Temple Emanu-El's Mitzvah Day, volunteers stuffed and addressed care packages to be handed out during Honoring Our Own Shabbat.
During the Honoring Our Own Shabbat service, Temple Emanue-El's rabbis spoke about Jewish values and military service in the sermon and gave all military members, veterans and their families a special blessing. The pre-stuffed, pre-addressed care packages were made available at the patriotically decorated oneg for members to simply take to mail themselves and pay the postage. That Sunday post-Veterans Day, the Religious School 7th and 8th graders had a lesson on the issue and spoke with military personnel or their family member(s) in round table discussions. Temple Emanu-El also created a support group that meets every other month..
DVDs are being created to send to all soldiers serving so they may see the service and the rabbi's blessing and feel closer to their Temple Emanu-El home. The 55 pre-filled care packages at the oneg were "grabbed up" within 10 minutes that night. The enthralled looks on the faces of 7th and 8th grade religious students when listening to a young military member in uniform was remarkable.
Temple Emanu-El's military families experienced the embrace of their community in a caring and supportive way. Their feelings of alienation were greatly decreased. The community has learned more about the U.S. military having a Jewish face as well as caring for one another in a different way.
Instant bonds were observed at the first meeting of the support group, which continues to meet every other month.