1100 Dickinson Street
Springfield, MA 01108
Target Groups: Multi-generational Social Action Program, High School, College Students
For over a decade, Sinai Temple’s Social Action Committee has implemented an ongoing program of tikkun olam. Throughout the year, the members devote their efforts to helping others in their community. To begin the year, on Erev Rosh HaShanah, the congregants go home with the first name and shoe size of a child from an inner-city community center. On Yom Kippur, the congregants bring in boxes filled with new shoes for the children.
On Chanukah each year, the congregation either has a board game or book drive for distribution to needy children. Later in the winter, the committee distributes two monetary awards. The first is a $1,000 award to an individual or agency in the Springfield area that is engaged in bettering the community. The second is awarded to help a high school or college student who wants to pursue a tikkun olam project in the summer. One of these award winners organized an art project for Latino children, while another organized a local chapter of COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life).
In the spring during Purim, the Social Action Committee introduces Project Baby, a program to collect food and clothing items for infants. Also, instead of using the traditional metal noisemakers, the congregants bring boxes of macaroni and cheese to shake and then donate them to a local agency. In their Esther’s Closet program, congregants donate special occasion dresses to inner-city teens before the prom season begins.
In the summer, Sinai Temple members focus on food collection and the homeless. They learned that donations to food pantries diminish during the summer and therefore thought of a new program called At Your Door, to alleviate this problem. Every year, volunteers send an explanatory letter and shopping bag to congregants, asking that they leave a full bag of food by their door on a designated Sunday morning. The Social Action Committee picks up the bags and replenishes local food banks. Also during the summer, the congregation works with Habitat for Humanity and another housing organization, Rebuilding Together.
Throughout the year, Sinai Temple contributes to the Pioneer Valley Project, which is a grassroots organizing body. As members of this group, they have helped expand the hours of the local library and invigorated the Parent-Teacher Associations in Springfield’s inner-city schools. In response to issues on an international level, the congregation created the World Crisis Fund. This fund pays for congregational mailings whenever a “world crisis” arises. In this way, congregants can respond monetarily to crises in a timely fashion. Once the donations have arrived, volunteers send the tzedakah to the chosen agency and leave just enough in the fund for the next mailing. During the last decade, they have raised over $33,000 to send to such places as Bosnia, Puerto Rico, and India.
Sinai Temple’s innovative, year-round efforts demonstrate the congregants’ unwavering commitment to those in need, at home or abroad.