The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Congregation B’nai Israel
2200 Yamato Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33431
Target Groups: Multi-generational Social Action Program, Adults, Middle School, High School, Elementary School.
There are many ways of doing the work of Tikkun Olam. Congregation B’nai Israel earned the Fain award for its interfaith work.
The congregation has been able to network and community out-reach to nine local churches including two African American churches. Four events are threaded together to create continuity, impact and participation.
The first of these events is “Feeding the Needy.” This program began 15 years ago and feeds the hungry and needy in Boca Raton just prior to Thanksgiving at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. Each year between 500-800 hungry people are feed through the participation of the congregation and the cooperation of the church and community.
The second event is a joint inter-faith service with Ebenezer. This service was begun 17 years ago and has generated great participation and support. The congregation’s clergy and members join the Pastor, deacons and church members for a joyous celebration of the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Music helps to unite the two communities and to share their experience of God together. There is standing room only each year at Ebenezer for this service! On this occasion, the members of the church cook a light lunch so the members of both congregations can enjoy fellowship together while the singing and dancing continue.
God’s Children in Concert was created and organized by the congregation’s Cantor, Stephanie Shore. She invited and helped rehearse the children’s choirs along with their directors, and created such an extensive production that is held only every other year. This year participants came from a widely diverse group including St. Paul Lutheran Church, St. David’s Armenian Church, B’nai Torah Congregation, the Hindu Community, the Inner City Youth, St. Jude Catholic Church, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, and the Florida Bahha’i Workshop. Of course, the congregation’s own choirs also participate.
While Mitzvah Day offers extraordinary opportunities for tikkun olam across the nation; the Mitzvah Day at Congregation B’nai Israel is different. Here, the congregation shares the mitzvah opportunity with two churches whose members also participate. More importantly, it is a day that is integrated into the entire social action programming of the synagogue. The many agencies that receive assistance have become familiar friends, and relationships are built and sustained because it is not a “one shot” effort at doing acts of righteousness. Many agencies have already received hundreds of hours of help throughout the year. This one-day is special because it brings many groups once again as a larger whole to share in the joy of mitzvot.
Relationships that are formed through these four activities have led to a yearly school supply drive to enable those in need to start school with an appropriate backpack filled with everything they need to have a good start for school. One student who helped serve a Thanksgiving dinner started a project where Congregation B’nai Israel students read to students form Ebenezer and do tutoring with them.
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