Sign In Forgot Password

Sponsorship Opportunities: A Program for Partnerships

02/06/2023 12:40:52 PM

Feb6

TBE leaders have been exploring ways to increase revenue and decrease costs. One innovative approach that we are excited to pursue is to leverage our impactful communication channels to connect our community with organizations and vendors that share Temple Beth El’s principles and vision. After carefully researching other organizations that do this, and learning that many businesses look for these opportunities, we developed an annual sponsorship program.

A business or organization can choose between two levels of sponsorship, offering different ways to share their website, contact information, and logo with our community, through TBE’s print and online communications. See our sponsorship form to learn more about the levels and benefits of this program 

We are excited to launch this program to partner with businesses and organizations and share their information with our community. If you know of an organization or business that may be interested, please contact Stefanie Kushner (exec@tbemadison.org).
 

Endowment for Spiritual Leadership

02/06/2023 12:32:39 PM

Feb6

Thank you to all TBE members who have donated to the Endowment for Spiritual Leadership. Ninety-three households had donated as of January 22, for a total of $4.7 million in pledges. We have received $2.6 million in donations already! To be successful in reaching our $8 million goal, we need 100% participation from the Temple Beth El community. We are proud to say that we have 100% participation of the TBE Board of Trustees; we appreciate all the gifts our leaders share with TBE.

“We made our donation in honor of Rabbi Jonathan Biatch. He has been such an important part of our family’s life: from officiating our wedding to helping Melissa convert to Judaism, from baby naming ceremonies and very soon b’nai mitzvahs, Rabbi Biatch has been a steady, warm, and stimulating presence for us. We appreciate his thoughtful and progressive approach and are continually inspired by his actions and his words. We understand that this kind of leadership cannot be taken for granted, and we believe that it is our turn to contribute something extra to promote sustainable leadership into the future.” 
—Lonnie and Melissa Berger

We recognize that TBE members have questions about the endowment. Last month, we mailed a brochure and reply card to households that have not yet donated, answering many of the questions that we have received. We hope that this information helps members make this important giving decision. You can see the brochure here (link to https://images.shulcloud.com/1180/uploads/ESL_campaign_January2023.pdf). 

“As those before us have helped establish the foundation for supporting our spiritual leaders, we feel it is important to contribute toward strengthening our community at
this time.”

—Betsy Abramson and David Seligman

With your support we will reach our goal of 100% community participation by June 2023. Pledges can be paid over several years. If you have any questions about the endowment or ways to donate, please contact Stefanie Kushner (exec@tbemadison.org).

Thank You for Renewing Your Membership

02/06/2023 12:19:48 PM

Feb6

By Stefanie Kushner, executive director

As membership renewals have come in for 2023, we are grateful for all the Temple Beth El members who continued their memberships, and we welcome the new members who have joined us in the last month!
 
We received many renewals before the December 31 deadline for choosing a contribution amount. This year’s renewal process included applying a 10% increase for the automatic renewals that were completed at the beginning of 2023. This increase goes a long way toward helping us meet rising costs. I appreciate everyone’s understanding of this new approach, and I’m gratified by the positive response. This truly helps support TBE’s vision. 

The number of households actively renewing by December 31 increased from last year, and those renewals included an increase in contributions! Over 60% of our community actively renewed their membership (up from 40% from last year). The households that renewed by December 31 and increased their contributions had an average increase of 14%. Thank you!

In January we automatically renewed the rest of the congregation, and January statements included a reminder of the 10% increase. Thank you for taking the time to read our communications throughout the fall that outlined these changes. We always appreciate your questions, and we hope that our transparency helped you prepare and make the best decisions for your household. We are pleased that so many congregants were supportive of the changes.

Membership contributions can be paid throughout the year. We ask that at least 50% be paid by August in order to receive your High Holy Day materials. You can set up automatic payments through your account on the TBE website or through your bank, or you can let Melissa Osborne know when you will be making payment(s).

As we communicated in our email about the staff transitions, starting in February we will be sending electronic statements only, unless you state that you prefer to receive a paper statement. If you would like to continue to receive a paper statement, please go to or contact Melissa Osborne (melissa@tbemadison.org).

Thank you for your continuing support of Temple Beth El. 
 

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Your Vote Is Needed on February 21

01/20/2023 11:49:29 AM

Jan20

From the Social Action Committee

Your vote counts button​​​​​​​The February 21 primary is crucial to the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Because there are two conservative and two liberal candidates running, and February's primary will advance the top two vote getters, it is possible that two candidates with the same judicial philosophy could advance to the April 4 spring election. Not many people vote in spring primaries, so the results can be affected by a small shift in voting patterns. 

The upshot is: if you want to make sure there is a candidate who reflects your values in April, you also need to vote in February!

What do you need to do to get ready?

• Make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address

• Request an absentee ballot if you will be out of town or busy that day

• Read nonpartisan candidate profiles and listen to candidate forums

• Learn how the court impacts issues you care about

To check your voter registration and request absentee ballots, check the state MyVote website.

For nonpartisan candidate profiles and links to candidate forums, try Ballotpedia.

For nonpartisan information about issues that may come before the Supreme Court, see Vote411. Important issues may include election administration, legislative redistricting, environmental regulation, government transparency, and reproductive health care.

Don’t put it off—if you’re going to be out of town, order your absentee ballot today! Municipal clerks also offer in-person early voting options in the two weeks prior to the election.
 

Rabbinic Transition: Frequently Asked Questions

01/13/2023 08:32:26 AM

Jan13

If you have questions about the upcoming rabbinic transition that will take place in July 2024, check out the FAQ document on the Members Only page of our website. You must be logged in to your account to view this page. 

Volunteer opportunities

12/15/2022 03:09:39 PM

Dec15

Looking to volunteer? Need a b’nai mitzvah project? Here are ways to help people in our community. 

Volunteer Drivers Needed for Immigration Appointments

The Dane Sanctuary Coalition provide rides for immigrants to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices in Milwaukee, Waukegan, IL, and Chicago, as well as the United States Immigration Court in Chicago. Recently we have started to offer local rides to immigrants who need to meet with local immigration attorneys but who live in parts of Dane County without much public transportation. 
 
When a ride is needed, Dan Zimmerman or Dineen Grow, the co-coordinators for the volunteer driver program, send an email to the list of volunteers. Volunteer drivers only commit to a specific ride based on their availability. For longer trips, partial compensation for mileage and parking is available. If you’re interested, we invite you to attend a virtual training session about the role and responsibilities of a volunteer driver, USCIS processes, and other information. Contact Dan Zimmerman by email or call him at 608-241-1158.  

Holiday Wish List for Porchlight Men’s Shelter

Porchlight shelter guests are always in need of personal supplies, and residents in Porchlight apartments need household items. During the holidays, Porchlight’s wish list also includes some games for entertainment at the shelter. Many of these items are easily ordered by using this Amazon wish list link and mailed directly to Porchlight at 306 N. Brooks Street, Madison, WI 53715. Items not ordered from Amazon can be dropped off at that address. Thank you for making the holiday season a little easier for Porchlight guests and tenants.
 
Cleaning supplies

  • All-purpose cleaner and disinfectant wipes
  • Floor cleaner (example: Pine-Sol)
  • Bleach
  • Dish soap (for individuals)
  • Laundry soap (pods or powder)
  • Brooms and dust pans
  • Mops, buckets, or Swiffers

Household supplies

  • Bowls and cups (microwave safe)
  • Pots and pans
  • Silverware
  • Paper towels and toilet paper
  • 13-gallon garbage bags
  • Laundry basket

Shelter supplies—all travel size

  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Shampoo, conditioner, 2-in-1
  • Bar soap/body wash and lotion
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Deodorant
  • Q-tips
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Burn cream
  • Muscle cream
  • Band-Aids

 

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center 

If you are looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time with friends, you can help serve a meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC). CMC provides free meals every day to community members on Madison's south side and people experiencing homelessness. Our volunteers set out and serve the food, join the meal, and then do the dishes and clean up. The Catholic Multicultural Center is located at 1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713. 

Our TBE team is signed up to help on the third Tuesday of each month. Our next days will be Tuesdays, December 20, January 17, February 21, and March 21 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. If you’re interested in engaging with other TBE members to meet this critical community need, click the sign-up link. Although slots are currently full for December and January, please check the list for cancelations. Contact Sue Levy if you have questions.

Court Observers for Criminal and Eviction Court

Several Temple Beth El members act as court observers under a program run by the Nehemiah Center for Urban Development, watching and reporting on criminal and/or eviction court hearings. Observers make their own schedules and are expected to observe about four hours each month. For more information, you can contact any of those currently involved: Betsy Abramson, Lynn Silverman, or Cari DiTullio

Helping the Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry

Twice each year Temple Beth El members raise funds to purchase critically needed personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, and gas and grocery gift cards for the Nehemiah Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry. The first drive is in January around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the second is at Juneteenth. Between the two drives, we raised over $4,700 in 2022 to support our neighbors in the Allied area. The first drive of 2023 is currently underway for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. You can make your tax-deductible donation on the Temple website (select Allied Wellness Center as the donation type). You can also mail a check to Temple Beth El (2702 Arbor Drive, Madison, WI 53711) with “Allied Wellness Center” in the memo. 

The Allied Drive staff is now inspired to reach out to other Madison area congregations to follow our example, giving the Essentials Pantry a reliable source of funding for these items. If you would like to help with purchasing items, or getting the boxes ready on Mondays or Thursdays from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, contact Betsy Abramson to explore whether this volunteer role is a good fit for you. 

Middle School Literacy and Math Tutors

The Racial Justice Action Team is partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to recruit adults as literacy or math tutors in Madison’s middle schools. Volunteers complete online training and then select the middle school of their choice to commit to at least one hour each week working with individual students. You can begin to explore this opportunity by completing the volunteer tutor application. To learn more about it from a tutor who participated this spring, please contact Betsy Abramson, who tutored in algebra twice/week at O’Keeffe Middle School, at 608-332-7867. She learned a lot of algebra herself and reports great satisfaction in helping a 7th grader catch up on critical skills lost during the a year of online school.

Volunteering through Jewish Social Services 

Jewish Social Services succeeds because of its fabulous team of volunteers. Our volunteers serve as drivers, friendly visitors, events supporters, language tutors, helpers with the Refugee Resettlement program, and so much more. Here are some of our volunteer roles:

  • Friendly visitor: Volunteers will visit and support people coping with memory loss and various forms of dementia. We will also have ongoing opportunities for training and staff support. Also looking for volunteer drivers, shopping companions, and persons to assist with blind and low-vision clients. 
  • Locating and securing safe, affordable housing: For newly arrived refugee families, we need people to conduct searches for housing, make calls to prospective property managers and other partners, and attend showings.
  • Community Action for Refugee Arrivals (CARA) program: Support JSS refugee clients by setting up apartments and engaging the broader community in ways to make Madison an even more welcoming place for refugees.
  • Office help: Assist in keeping track of participants in various social and educational activities. Help with recording and tracking volunteers.
  • Volunteer at holiday, social events, and Shabbats: Help residents, family, and friends at retirement facilities to celebrate Shabbat. Seat guests, pour wine and juice, distribute challah, and interact with the residents and their families.
  • Learn to be an English tutor: Thanks to Jewish Federation of Madison through the Cheryl Rosen Weston Fund, Jewish Social Services is partnering with the Literacy Network to offer training and volunteer opportunities working with adult learners in English as a Second Language, GED preparation, and/or general literacy skills. Check for further descriptions, specific training dates, applications, and other details on the Literacy Network website

For all volunteer-related questions, contact Paul Borowsky at 608-442-4083 or paul@jssmadison.org

JSS is also revamping its refugee mentorship program to pair refugee clients with individual mentors. Two TBE members recently began mentoring an Afghan woman as a pilot pairing of sorts and have found the experience to be meaningful and enjoyable. Contact Erica Serlin or Lynn Silverman to hear about their experience and learn more about the program.

Drivers Wanted for Immigration Check-Ins, Hearings, and Attorney Appointments 

12/15/2022 03:02:23 PM

Dec15

by Dan Zimmerman

Since 2019, volunteers for the Dane Sanctuary Coalition have provided rides for many immigrants to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices in Milwaukee, Waukegan, IL, and Chicago, as well as the United States Immigration Court in Chicago. While there are 54 individuals currently on the email distribution list, some of them have never volunteered because they don’t want to drive in Chicago (well, no one does), some can’t be away from home/Dane County for a full day, some are snowbirds, etc. There have been a couple of times in which no one has volunteered to take an individual or a family to their scheduled appointment. So, we are always seeking additional volunteer drivers.

The scheduled appointments typically are for:

  • Collection of biometrics, which includes a photograph, fingerprinting, and completion of a form providing identifying information (e.g., color of eyes).
  • Security checks, which are generally done annually. For recently arrived immigrants, they may have an appointment to remove an ankle monitor once the immigrants have a permanent address.
  • Asylum interviews.
  • Court hearings to determine if the immigrant/family will be given a deportation order.

Between January 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022, we received 61 requests for rides from referring agencies and attorneys. Over half the requests have been during the last three months, following a pandemic lull. 

When an immigrant or family has a scheduled appointment with USCIS or Immigration Court, we email the distribution list seeking a volunteer driver for the specific ride. Volunteer drivers only commit to a specific ride based on their availability. The rides to Milwaukee or Waukegan and back generally are completed within four to six hours. The rides to Chicago and back are full-day events. Dane Sanctuary Coalition is able to provide a $25 reimbursement for rides to Milwaukee or Waukegan and a $65 plus parking reimbursement for rides to Chicago.

We recently expanded the mission of the volunteer program to include local rides. The Dane County Immigration Affairs Office is working with Christ Presbyterian Church (at the corner of E. Gorham Street, Brearly Street, and Sherman Avenue) to set up a free legal clinic for immigrants on the second and fourth Friday of each month. Some of the immigrants live in Dane County in areas without a viable public transportation option, such as Middleton, Sun Prairie, and Waunakee, so we have agreed to provide volunteer drivers to help meet this monthly need.

For persons interested in volunteering, we have a virtual training session to provide further explanation about the role and responsibilities of a volunteer driver, USCIS processes, and other information. If you are interested in being a volunteer driver and would like to attend the training, please email me at zimmerman_dan@hotmail.com or call me at 608-241-1158.
 

The Joys and Challenges of Helping Refugees Resettle in Madison

12/15/2022 02:51:40 PM

Dec15

by Lynn Silverman and Erica Serlin

Imagine moving to a new country because of circumstances beyond your control and leaving behind your old life, your family, and your friends. You may have been living in a refugee camp for years, or war has suddenly made staying in your country dangerous. You may have experienced trauma and devastating loss. Your new country has customs and a culture that are completely different from your own, and you don’t know the language or anyone who lives there. This is the situation for many of the refugees who have been settled in Madison.

Since 2016, Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) has been a refugee resettlement affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Over just this past year, JSS has resettled over 143 people from countries as varied as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This could not have been done without the support of Open Doors for Refugees, an all-volunteer organization that works closely with JSS to help refugees make Madison their home. Additionally, many community-based organizations, state programs, and congregations have worked together with JSS to help our new neighbors receive health care, integrate their children into the school system, get employment, learn English, and stay safe and secure. Many TBE congregants volunteer with JSS and Open Doors for Refugees to help set up homes, provide initial food and supplies, provide winter wear for new arrivals, and help with transportation to appointments. 

JSS has initiated a program called Aljirani (this word combines Arabic and Swahili and means “neighbor”), which is a six-month volunteer program that pairs a refugee or refugee family with one or two companions from the Madison community to be mentors. The purpose is to provide emotional support and practical help to enable refugees to feel welcome in the community, and to build confidence and self-sufficiency as they begin their new lives. 

We are two of the TBE volunteers who have joined this program. We have been working with an Afghan woman, meeting in her home, joined by her sister-in-law and several of their younger children. Our time together is filled with acting out various situations, including introductions and learning and using basic vocabulary as well as playing games involving new words. Sometimes our time together has been challenging, as the woman we mentor has gone through trauma and can sometimes be sad and withdrawn, but at other times is joyful, as the women laugh at us and at themselves in response to our playacting. We are learning their customs and they learn ours. We have been touched by their hospitality, offering us delicious food and drink, including such treats as homemade flatbread and sautéed spinach with onion and garlic (dodey and saag) and sweets with milk tea (shodu chay).

Anyone interested in learning more about any of these volunteer opportunities is welcome to contact Lynn Silverman or Erica Serlin. We are the co-chairs of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team and would be happy to tell you about our work.

Interfaith Community Gathers to Observe Transgender Day of Remembrance

12/15/2022 02:03:12 PM

Dec15

On November 20, members of local organizations and faith communities joined TBE members to mark the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, honoring those who lost their lives to anti-LGBTQ violence. The mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, a welcoming space for the LGBTQ community in Colorado, added sadness and urgency to the solemn service.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999 in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who had been killed the previous year. It became an annual tradition to honor all transgender people who lost their lives to violence because of who they were. 

“We pray for the strength to carry on their legacy of vision, bravery, and love,” said Cantor Jacob Niemi.

TBE hosted the service this year and was joined by these interfaith partners:

 
Beth Israel Center
Bethany United Methodist Church
Briarpatch Youth Services (Teens Like Us Program)
Circle Sanctuary
City of Madison Office of the Mayor
Congregation Shaarei Shamayim
Covenant Presbyterian Church
El Tawhid Juma Circle-Madison
First Baptist Church of Madison
First Unitarian Society of Madison
First United Methodist Church
Gender and Sexuality Campus Center
Holy Wisdom Monastery
Jewish Federation of Madison
Jewish Social Services of Madison
Just Dane
Lake Edge UCC
League of Women Voters of Dane County
Madison Christian Community - Advent Lutheran Church and Community of Hope UCC
Madison Insight Meditation Group
Memorial United Church of Christ
Middleton Community Church UCC
Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ
OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center
PFLAG-Madison
Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society
Pres House
Pres House Apartments
St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church
St. John's Lutheran Church
St. Mark's Lutheran Church
The Crossing Campus Ministry
Trinity United Methodist Church
Vivent Health
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice

Countering the Threat of the White Christian Nationalism Movement

12/15/2022 01:40:45 PM

Dec15

by Rabbi Bonnie Margulis

White Christian nationalism poses a threat to our democracy and to our faith. But people of faith are pushing back. Rev. Jennifer Butler, founder in residence of Faith in Public Life, is on a “Faith and Democracy Tour,” visiting states where democracy is most threatened. Her goal is to inspire and equip communities to reclaim their faith and protect our democracy, grounded in spiritual disciplines that have strengthened justice-centered communities for centuries. 

From February 5 to 7, 2023, Rev. Butler will be in Wisconsin to train communities to reclaim their faith traditions. Rev. Butler is partnering with Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, WISDOM, MICAH, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Council of Rabbis, and other faith organizations and congregations to empower communities to push back more effectively against the misuse of religion, and interrupt the grip of hypocrisy and heresy on white Christians in particular, across the current social and political landscape. She will draw from her decades of successful coalition-building and organizing and from her book, Who Stole My Bible?, which is a guidebook for all seeking to reclaim faith-centered justice.

Events during Rev. Butler’s visit include:

Sunday, February 5, 2:00 pm
Workshop: “Talking to Friends and Loved Ones Caught Up in Conspiracy Theories and Christian Nationalism”
First Baptist Church of Waukesha (247 Wisconsin Ave., Waukesha). In-person only.
Monday, February 6, 7:00 pm
“The Rise of the Christian Right and White Christian Nationalism”
Unitarian Universalist Church West (13001 W. North Ave., Brookfield). Livestream option available.
Tuesday, February 7, 7:00 pm
“American Democracy and the Role of Faith”
First Baptist Church of Madison (518 N. Franklin Ave., Madison). Livestream option available.

Register here

 

Fall Voting Wrap-Up, Spring Elections Coming Right Up

12/15/2022 01:34:42 PM

Dec15

The TBE Voter Engagement Action Team had a busy election season. This campaign was part of a national effort, grounded in our Jewish values and commitment to racial justice, to strengthen our democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation.

  • We participated in a nonpartisan canvass of low-turnout neighborhoods in Madison, sharing information and encouraging voting as part of an effort by the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign.
  • Our volunteers assisted the League of Women Voters in a new effort to offer two weeks of voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This program was very successful and will be expanded next year.
  • With the Dayenu Circle of Madison, a Jewish climate action group, we provided voter registration and information at an open house at Hillel in September. 
  • TBE members helped the Madison city clerk prepare a mailing and served as poll workers on Election Day.
  • In August, 19 TBE members gathered at Temple and on Zoom for a postcard party, sending postcards to voters in low-turnout areas of Virginia. The postcards noted some of the key social justice issues that were at stake on the ballot and gave the recipients the information they need to vote. We did this as part of the “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign of the Union for Reform Judaism. Nineteen TBE volunteers sent over 1,000 postcards!
  • Nationally, the “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign resulted in a record-high level of engagement. They formed a network of 600 leaders, organizing 6,500 members of the Reform movement, making a total of over 650,000 voter contacts through phone calls, postcards, text messages, and canvassing. 

Although the national midterm elections brought out the volunteers, our work isn’t done. Elections for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and many local races are coming right up, with the primary on February 21 and the general election on April 4. Our team will continue its efforts to register voters and get out the vote. 

Related news:

  • In early February, Reverend Jennifer Butler will be in Wisconsin on a “Faith and Democracy Tour,” where she will speak about countering the threat of the rising White Christian nationalist movement
  • Please join us at the Social Action Shabbat on March 31, where the topic will be protecting our fragile democracy. 

Do You Donate Blood? Join Our TBE Team!

12/15/2022 01:18:47 PM

Dec15

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. There’s no substitute for blood: when a patient receives blood, it was given by a generous donor in advance. Many of our congregants are already blood donors. If you are, we invite you to join our team, and see the collective impact our congregants are having. 

Download the Red Cross Blood Donor app from your app store if you don’t already have it.

1. Click "impact" at bottom right

2. Click "create or join a team" 

3. Search "Temple Beth El Madison WI" and select the team

If you’ve never donated or have done so only occasionally and have questions, please contact Aleeza A. Hoffert at engage@tbemadison.org to connect you with one of our team members to answer questions. Thanks to everyone doing this important mitzvah and helping to sustain the lives of others.

Save the Date: Sunday, April 23 Is Mitzvah Day

12/15/2022 01:08:07 PM

Dec15

By popular demand, Mitzvah Day is coming back on Sunday, April 23, 2023. We'll offer a wide range of projects suitable for all ages and abilities, such as cooking, sewing, painting, and planting. Volunteering will take place both at Temple Beth El and out in the community. The day will include a bone marrow drive and a diaper collection. 
 
Several nonprofits, including Artworking, a community of artists with disabilities, will be selling their crafts as part of a late afternoon fair in the Weinstein Community Court.
 
Food will be available after Religious School so families can nosh and get revved up before their first activity. At 5:00 pm we will gather as a community for a meal to share our experiences. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is needed! 
 
We still need people to lead projects! If you would like to captain a project or help us plan the event in other ways, please contact one of our co-chairs: Lynn Renner, Linda Reivitz, and Staci Rieder

Use this form to tell us more about a mitzvah project you would like to lead

More details and registration will be available in mid-February on the Temple website.

Fall Food Drives Are a Success!

12/15/2022 11:54:34 AM

Dec15

Temple Beth El supports two major food drives every year: on the High Holy Days and at Thanksgiving. Both drives were a great success, reflecting the generosity of our congregation and recognition of how many people in our community are in need of help.

The High Holy Day Food Drive this year raised $17,646.00, to support our partner organizations with hunger relief initiatives. The Social Action Committee has allocated the money as follows:

$13,000 Second Harvest Foodbank
$500 Mount Zion Baptist Church Food Pantry
$500 Catholic Multicultural Center Food Pantry
$500 Porchlight Emergency Food Shelter
$500 Little John’s Kitchens
$500 Centro Hispano for grocery cards
$500 The Road Home for grocery cards
$1,646   Mitzvah Day project food supplies or to be allocated later

 

Temple Beth El has once again been recognized as a bronze level sponsor of the NBC-15 “Share Your Holidays” Fund supporting the Second Harvest Foodbank, making our congregation the largest noncorporate sponsor of the fund. Second Harvest distributes millions of pounds of food each year to support food pantries and meal programs all over southern Wisconsin.

The Thanksgiving Basket Drive was also a success. Our Religious School children and their families gathered food to support the Goodman Community Center’s Thanksgiving Basket Drive, which provides all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal to 4,000 families. To make it fun, the Religious School classes compete every year to see which class can collect the greatest number of supplies. TBE members can also make monetary donations to Goodman to support the basket drive. This year’s contest was won by the third grade class:

4K  40 boxes of macaroni and cheese
Kindergarten 28 boxes of stuffing mix
1st grade 18 aluminum roaster pans
2nd grade 41 cans of fruit
3rd grade 82 cans of vegetables (THE WINNERS!)
4th grade 26 cans of gravy
5th grade 37 containers of broth
6th grade 46 cans of cranberry sauce
7th grade 28 bottles of vegetable oil

          
We are grateful to all the TBE members who donated to these food drives. We are proud to be part of such a caring community.

Support Allied Wellness Center in Commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

12/15/2022 11:46:36 AM

Dec15

TBE is entering the third year of our partnership with the Allied Wellness Center's Essentials Pantry. In 2022, generous TBE members contributed $4,700, which purchased thousands of critically needed health and hygiene products, such as toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, diapers, sanitizing wipes, tampons, shampoo, etc., as well as bus tickets, gas cards, and grocery cards. Allied Wellness Center is incredibly grateful to our community for this support, which especially during these difficult economic times.

Can you or your family help us fulfill this mitzvah now, during this month of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations? The most efficient way to stock the shelves is to donate money so we can buy in bulk. You can make your tax-deductible donation right on the Temple website (select Allied Wellness Center as the donation type). You can also mail a check to Temple Beth El (2702 Arbor Drive, Madison, WI 53711) with “Allied Wellness Center” in the memo. 

Alternatively, you can drop off any of the following items in the Temple Beth El coatroom, and we’ll make sure they get to the Allied Wellness Center. 

  • Bars of soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Diapers (all sizes)
  • Diaper wipes
  • Tampons
  • Menstrual pads
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Laundry pods
  • Surface cleaners
  • Sponges
  • Dish detergent 

 The Allied Wellness Center also has an ongoing need for regular volunteers. Would you like to help purchase items with the donated funds and deliver them to the Wellness Center, and/or stock the pantry shelves? If interested, contact Betsy Abramson, co-chair of TBE’s Racial Justice Action Team, at betsyabramson@gmail.com or 608-332-7867.

Friendly Competition and Connection at Trivia Night

11/22/2022 10:21:30 AM

Nov22

We were so happy to come together, in person, for our third annual Trivia Night. Over 70 members and friends of TBE gathered in the social hall on November 5 for a night of fun that began with a beautiful Havdalah service led by Cantor Jacob Niemi. 

This year a few new highlights added to the fun and helped our fundraising efforts:

  • Wine Pull: Participants were encouraged to pick a number and receive the corresponding bottle of wine to enjoy, for a $20 donation. All wine was donated by members of the TBE Board of Trustees. This netted almost $200 in donations.
  • “Heads or Tails” and “Dead or Alive”: These fun games were led by Carly and Brian Jacobson, netting almost $100 in donations. 
  • Video questions from Rabbi Jonathan Biatch: submitted as he was biking around Israel.
  • Babysitting: for children whose parents were busy showing off their trivia skills

This night of quizzes and camaraderie netted $1,500 to support TBE’s programs and services. 

Thank you to those who helped plan the night:

Rozan Anderson
Linda Berman
David Bookstaff
Steve LaBelle
Susan Lipp
David and Shelley Schwarz

And, most of all, thank you to all the participants who came to have fun and support TBE!

Recently Awarded Grants Support TBE in Many Ways

11/22/2022 10:12:52 AM

Nov22

We are grateful for the state and local grants we have received that are helping to support our security and facility needs.

We are currently receiving reimbursements from a 2021 FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant. This grant is supporting:

  • A new door code keypad outside the kitchen door.
  • Security film for outdoor windows with ground-level access and windows in our classroom doors to make unlawful entrance more difficult.
  • Partial funding for our Madison Police Department (MPD) coverage.

We were awarded a 2022 FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant. This grant will support:

  • New radios or communication devices for the school.
  • New wooden fencing surrounding our parking lot to replace the broken fence, providing a more secure boundary around TBE property.
  • New steel doors in the back of our building to replace those that are rusted. 
  • Partial funding for our MPD coverage. 

We were awarded a $2,500 security grant from the Jewish Federation of Milwaukee. This grant will:

  • Help defray the cost of MPD coverage during the High Holy Days.

We were recently awarded a grant from the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation, enabling us to: 

  • Replace the material on one of our oldest roof tops.
  • Purchase solar panels that will reduce our utility costs and help the environment.

We will continue to pursue grant funding opportunities to help support our security and facility expenses.

Your Annual Membership Renewal Makes a Difference!  

11/22/2022 10:01:19 AM

Nov22

This year’s membership renewal materials should be arriving in your mailbox right around now. 

The contribution you make through the Temple Community Contribution program has a significant impact on our entire community, allowing TBE to thrive and grow. We hope you will consider increasing your support this year to help us meet rising costs. We are grateful that many TBE members have recognized our increasing expenses and adjusted their contributions to help us meet these costs. 

“Temple Beth El has been a great community for us and for our kids. It seems the cost of everything has gone up, so we felt it was important to help TBE keep up with this.” 
—Josh Mezrich and Gretchen Schwarze on their decision to increase their membership contribution

You can actively renew your membership, choosing your level of giving, by returning the renewal form or by managing your contribution online by December 30, 2022. If you do not submit your renewal information, your membership will automatically renew at the beginning of 2023, with a 10% increase. Please see the renewal materials you received in the mail for more information about how to contribute. 

If you have any questions about your membership renewal, please contact Executive Director Stefanie Kushner at 608-238-3123 or exec@tbemadison.org, or plan to join our Membership Renewal Information Session, via Zoom, on December 15 at 7:00 pm. 

Every contribution is truly appreciated. We thank you, and we look forward to all the possibilities ahead.

Volunteer opportunities

10/14/2022 01:33:16 PM

Oct14

Looking to volunteer? Need a b’nai mitzvah project? Here are ways to help people in our community. 

Costume Drive

October 9–November 6
Donate gently used and outgrown Halloween costumes for TBE to send to Israel for Purim! Collection box will be in the foyer on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons during school or in the Coatroom at other times.

Thoreau Food Program

Temple Beth El is again joining with other neighboring congregations and organizations to provide children at Thoreau Elementary School with food to take home over the weekend. Many of the children at Thoreau qualify for free or reduced school lunches and may be without adequate food on weekends. Food comes from Second Harvest Foodbank, but volunteers are needed to pack and distribute the food bags for 40–50 children in the Thoreau Elementary Weekend Food Bag Program. 

Two to four volunteers are needed for a morning each week during December. Dates are Friday, December 2, 9, and 16, and Tuesday, December 20. Packing takes place at Westminster Church on 4100 Nakoma Road. We meet at the church at 8:15 am to pack the weekend bags and then distribute them to the children’s lockers at the school at 9:30 am. You may work any or all of these days. 

Please contact Vic Levy at levy@uwplatt.edu with any questions. The first step for anyone interested in volunteering will be to sign up as a volunteer (Level 2) with the Madison Metropolitan School District (go to the MMSD volunteer website at https://appgarden6.app-garden.com/VolTrackWI3269.nsf). This will activate a background check to enter Thoreau Elementary to distribute the food. Please visit their website now if you wish to help in December. If you are already approved to volunteer at any MMSD school for this year, please revise your Volunteer Tracker profile to include food pantry assistant at Thoreau. 

Please use the following Sign-Up Genius link to join us for a day in December: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30E0B44ADAC22AB9-thoreau2 

Volunteer Drivers Needed

The Dane Sanctuary Coalition has provided rides for many immigrants to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices in Milwaukee, Waukegan, and Chicago, as well as the United States Immigration Court in Chicago since 2019. While there are 49 individuals currently on the email distribution list, there have been a couple of times in which no one has volunteered to take an individual or a family to their scheduled appointment. We are seeking additional volunteer drivers.
 
The scheduled appointments typically are for:

  • Collection of biometrics, which includes a photograph, fingerprinting, and completion of a form providing identifying information (e.g., color of eyes).
  • Security checks. Generally, the security checks are done annually. For recently arrived immigrants, they may have an appointment to remove an ankle monitor once the immigrants have a permanent address.
  • Asylum interviews.
  • Court hearings to determine if the immigrant/family will be given a deportation order.

 
The rides to Milwaukee or Waukegan and back generally are completed within four to six hours. The rides to Chicago and back are full-day events. Dane Sanctuary Coalition is able to provide a $25 reimbursement for rides to Milwaukee or Waukegan and a $65 plus parking reimbursement for rides to Chicago.
 
When one of the referring agencies have an immigrant/family with a scheduled appointment at USCIS offices or Immigration Court, Dan Zimmerman or Dineen Grow, the co-coordinators for the volunteer driver program, will email the distribution list seeking a volunteer driver for the specific ride. Volunteer drivers only commit to a specific ride based on their availability.
 
A virtual training session will provide further explanation about the role and responsibilities of a volunteer driver, USCIS processes, etc. If you are interested in being a volunteer driver and receiving the training, please send Dan Zimmerman an email message at zimmerman_dan@hotmail.com or call him at his home at 608-241-1158.

Nonpartisan Election Observation and Other Voter Support Opportunities

The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team has been working to provide nonpartisan voter support throughout the summer and fall. There are still opportunities to help before and even after the election on November 8. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is recruiting people who want to serve as nonpartisan election observers and other volunteers. If you’re interested, see here or contact Marcia Vandercook.

Items Needed for Porchlight Men’s Shelter

In mid-September, during the heavy rains, Porchlight had 188 men in need of shelter. This is the highest number of guests ever, in Porchlight’s 35 years of managing the men’s shelter. Here are the items currently most requested by the men: 

  • Umbrellas
  • Rain ponchos
  • Headphones
  • Sweatshirts (big sizes)
  • Jackets (big sizes)
  • Pants (big sizes)

Can you donate any of these items? New or gently used is fine. Items can be dropped off or mailed to Porchlight admin offices at 306 N. Brooks Street, Madison, WI 53715, or dropped off directly at the shelter at 200 N. First Street (Johnson Street entrance), any day, 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Thank you!

Serving Meals at the Catholic Multicultural Center 

If you are looking for a fun, easy opportunity to help the community and spend quality time as a team or group, you can help serve a meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC). Our TBE team is signed up to help on the third Tuesday of each month. Our next days will be Tuesday, October 18, and Tuesday, November 15, 3:30–5:30 pm.

CMC provides free meals every day to community members on Madison’s south side and people experiencing homelessness. Our volunteers set out and serve the food, join the meal, and then do the dishes and clean up. The center serves about 80 people daily. The Catholic Multicultural Center is located at 1862 Beld Street, Madison, WI 53713. 

Interested in engaging with other TBE members to meet this critical community need? Click the sign-up link and tell us when you are available. Please contact Sue Levy, slevy51@gmail.com, if you have questions.

Court Observers for Criminal and Eviction Court

Several Temple Beth El members act as court observers under a program run by the Nehemiah Center for Urban Development, watching and reporting on criminal and/or eviction court hearings. Observers make their own schedules and are expected to observe about four hours each month. For more information, you can contact any of those currently involved: Betsy Abramson, Lynn Silverman, or Cari DiTullio.

Helping the Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry

Twice each year Temple Beth El members raise funds to purchase critically needed personal hygiene, cleaning supplies, and gas and grocery gift cards for the Nehemiah Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry. The first drive is in January around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the second is at Juneteenth. Between the two drives, we raised over $4,700 to support our neighbors in the Allied area. 

According to coordinator Betsy Abramson, the Allied Wellness Center staff is now inspired to reach out to other Madison-area congregations to follow our example, giving the Essentials Pantry a reliable source of funding for these items. Rabbi Jonathan Biatch has also made monthly donations from the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund to help out. If you would like to help with purchasing items, or getting the boxes ready on Mondays or Thursdays from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, contact Betsy Abramson to explore whether this volunteer gig is a good fit for you. 

Middle School Literacy and Math Tutors

The Racial Justice Action Team is partnering with the Urban League of Greater Madison to recruit adults as literacy or math tutors in Madison’s middle schools. Volunteers complete online training and then select the middle school of their choice to commit to at least one hour each week working with individual students. You can begin to explore this opportunity by completing the volunteer tutor application. To learn more about it from a tutor who participated this spring, please contact Betsy Abramson at 608-332-7867, who tutored in algebra twice a week at O’Keeffe Middle School. She learned a lot of algebra herself and reports great satisfaction in helping a 7th grader catch up in this critical skill from what he lost during the year of online school during the pandemic.

Volunteering through Jewish Social Services 

Jewish Social Services of Madison (JSS) is looking for volunteers to help with Shabbat services for seniors, in-person events this summer, friendly visitors, shopping partners, and other tasks.

JSS is also receiving more refugee families for resettlement, and there are a number of ways you can help: setting up apartments for arriving refugees, driving the JSS bus to transport larger families, and teaching English language and literacy skills. New volunteer opportunities are posted here. If you have time and would like to help, please contact JSS volunteer coordinator Paul Borowsky at 608-442-4083 or paul@jssmadison.org.

JSS is also revamping its refugee mentorship program and hopes to pair many of their refugee clients with individual mentors. Two TBE members recently began mentoring an Afghan woman as a pilot pairing of sorts and have found the experience to be meaningful and enjoyable. Contact Erica Serlin or Lynn Silverman to hear about their experience and learn more about the program.

Getting Out the Vote This Fall

10/14/2022 01:15:26 PM

Oct14


Important things to know about this election:

  • Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. 
  • You can register to vote at the polls on the day of the election. Check with your local clerk about early registration opportunities.
  • The last day to order an absentee ballot is November 3, but don’t wait that long—ideally your ballot should be mailed back to the clerk at least one week before the election to be sure it arrives in time. Drop boxes will not be available for this election.
  • Offices on the ballot include Governor, Attorney General, US Senate, US House, State Assembly, and Sheriff. In Dane County, there are also referenda on marijuana legalization and repeal of the 1849 abortion statute.
  • You can find comprehensive election information on the state MyVote website, including how to register, absentee voting, photo ID, your polling place, and what’s on your ballot. 

More information and assistance are available through the League of Women Voters of Dane County.


The TBE Civic Engagement Action Team has been working hard throughout the summer and fall to make sure voters are registered and ready to vote. There is still time to help if you’d like to get involved in nonpartisan voter support.

On July 10, six TBE volunteers had a great time helping canvass a south Madison neighborhood before the August primary, joining 30 volunteers from eight congregations to provide nonpartisan information about the August primary. This program was a collaboration between the Wisconsin Interfaith Voter Engagement Campaign and the League of Women Voters. We joined in again on September 29 and October 9 to reach another neighborhood in northeast Madison. The League of Women Voters of Dane County identified the neighborhoods based on low voter turnout, where going door to door can be especially helpful, and provided training and maps of the assigned routes. 

In various studies, researchers find that contact with volunteers can increase voter turnout by up to 9 percentage points. Unlike a conversation on a social media platform, face-to-face interaction is personal, and two people having a respectful conversation on a doorstep are more likely to find common ground. Our participants enjoyed meeting each other, chatting with their Dane County neighbors, and most importantly taking steps to strengthen our democracy.

On August 15, 19 TBE members gathered at Temple and on Zoom to write postcards to voters in low-turnout areas of Virginia, providing information and encouraging them to vote. We did this as part of the “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign of the Union for Reform Judaism. This campaign was part of a national effort to strengthen our democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation, grounded in our Jewish values and commitment to racial justice. We wrote a total of 1,090 postcards!

At UW registration in September, multiple TBE volunteers helped staff a voter registration station at Union South. Campus voter registration is a regular program of the League of Women Voters of Dane County and BadgersVote, a campus organization. We also provided voter registration and information at an open house at Hillel on September 18, together with the League and the Dayenu Circle of Madison, a Jewish climate action group.

There are still some opportunities to help, before and even after the election on November 8. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is recruiting people who want to serve as nonpartisan election observers and people who would like to work with voters who cast provisional ballots to make sure they submit their photo ID by the end of the week.

  • Election Observers: The League will provide online training, assign volunteers their polling place(s) to observe, and provide volunteers with a reporting form to record their observations. They will do their best to assign you to a location near your home. You don’t need to be a League member to volunteer for this important civic action. You can learn more about the Election Observation Program here
  • Provisional Voter Outreach Volunteers: The League and its partner VoteRiders are organizing an effort to assist provisional voters to ensure their votes are counted. In Wisconsin a voter can be issued a provisional ballot if they did not have a photo ID to show on Election Day. Provisional voters have until the Friday following the election to “cure” their ballot by showing their municipal clerk a valid photo ID. Volunteers will be trained on the photo ID requirements, how to contact provisional voters, and how to help provisional voters cure their ballots. 

If you have questions about either of these programs, contact League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s voter education manager, Eileen Newcomer, at enewcomer@lwvwi.org or 608-256-0827
 

Sifting and Reckoning: The UW History Exhibit at the Chazen Art Museum

10/14/2022 12:58:56 PM

Oct14

On October 2, some 30 TBE Sisterhood and Racial Justice Action Team members viewed the UW Public History Project’s exhibit “Sifting and Reckoning,” showing at the Chazen Museum of Art on campus through December 23. The exhibit covers 150 years of UW–Madison history, “sifting through histories of discrimination and resistance on campus and reckoning with that history in order to move toward a better future,” according to the exhibit’s curators. 

The project is a multiyear effort to uncover and give voice to those who were often excluded at UW–Madison. In response to the increased awareness of the Ku Klux Klan’s presence on campus in the 1920s, Chancellor Rebecca Blank created the project to better understand the university’s past. The exhibition uses archival materials, objects, and oral histories to bring to light stories of struggle, perseverance, and resistance on campus.

As participants in the TBE event took self-guided tours, we shared our thoughts and recollections, remembering things we observed or experienced personally at UW–Madison or at other colleges. The exhibit focuses on several themes to help us understand the university’s history, including the many ways racism and exclusion permeated campus life, and how the community responded, organized, and resisted. Themes such as student organizations, housing, academic life, and protest provided insight into the various experiences of marginalized students as they navigated the whole of student life. Objects and pictures bring these themes to life: the Pipe of Peace, a ceremonial object used by white students in a popular mock Native ceremony; protest flyers created by students fighting against racism; buttons and athletic memorabilia; and yearbooks and photographs illustrating the culture of exclusion on campus. 

After viewing the exhibit, the TBE group met at the Memorial Union to process what we had seen. Reactions ranged from sadness to shock at the events that had taken place at UW–Madison. One participant’s dormitory roommate told her she really did think that Jews had actual horns. There were stories of segregated dorms, parents who could not get hired as professors because they were Jewish, and more. Participants hoped that the university would take steps after this exhibit to be more proactive about ensuring that all felt a true sense of belonging at UW–Madison.

The project also includes a digital exhibition website, a lecture series, and curricular materials. The exhibit was curated by Kacie Lucchini Butcher, the director of the Public History Project; Taylor Bailey, assistant director; Adriana Arthur, graduate student researcher and curatorial assistant; the Public History Project Steering Committee; and collaborative partnerships with student groups, community partners, and campus stakeholders.

Like other higher-education institutions, UW–Madison is recognizing the importance of examining its history. The TBE event provided a unique opportunity for us to reflect on our past and work toward creating a more equitable future.

“A Raisin in the Sun”: Housing Discrimination and Barriers to Home Ownership in Madison

10/14/2022 11:16:46 AM

Oct14

On September 15, the Racial Justice Action Team hosted a discussion on housing discrimination in Dane County. The starting point for discussion was the extraordinary play by Lorraine Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun,” which first premiered in 1959 and which was presented this summer at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. APT describes the play as “a stunning classic that examines the ways racism suppresses the lives and aspirations of Black families.”

Austin Johnson, lead housing staff of the Urban League of Greater Madison, led a discussion of the play’s relevance and current barriers to home ownership by African Americans. Mr. Johnson reviewed federal mortgage guarantees beginning with the New Deal and how the practice of redlining, developed to assess the risk of lending, severely undermined the ability of Black people to buy property. Discriminatory lending practices led to much lower home ownership rates and made it much harder for Black families to create generational wealth. This in turn led to greater racial segregation, distance from job opportunities, underinvestment in certain schools, and concentration of poverty within cities across the country. The feelings of financial despair and being trapped in a bad apartment are explored in “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Although redlining was outlawed by the 1968 Civil Rights Act, its effects persist today. Appraisals in Black neighborhoods are consistently below market, and there have been instances where a single house has been valued at one price if the appraiser believes the homeowner is white and half that much if the appraiser is aware the homeowner is Black. 

There are also significant differences in the rate of home ownership between white and Black individuals and families. Those differences are even worse here in Madison, where white people own homes at more than three times the rate of Black people:

2019 home ownership rate White Black
Nationally 72% 42%
Madison 52% 15%


Mr. Johnson noted that unlike a number of Midwest cities, Madison does not have much of a Black middle class or Black middle-class neighborhoods. The Black population is only 7%, with few Black businesses or Black gathering spaces, and there are also strong disparities in incarceration and school success. As a result, Black people are sometimes uncomfortable here and more transient than in Milwaukee or Chicago. 

The Urban League of Greater Madison has been working to address these issues in a variety of ways. On the housing front, it has bought and rehabilitated 16 family homes in south and northeast Madison, then worked with first-time home buyers to provide financial coaching and down payment assistance, arrange mortgages, and offer education and support for property maintenance. A local organization called “Own It” is working with realtors and lenders about ways they can help equalize opportunities for home ownership.

The Urban League is also developing the Black Business Hub, a home to retail and other businesses owned by Black and other entrepreneurs of color, ranging from start-ups to established business looking to expand. It will offer a place-based system of entrepreneurial supports including loans, grants, technical assistance, and networking. For a deeper look at the many projects happening in South Madison and the potential they have to address Dane County's long-standing racial disparities, see here

Rabbi Bonnie Margulis noted that many other organizations are working on all aspects of housing in Dane County, including homelessness, rentals, and home ownership. A housing summit is scheduled for January 31, 2023; watch more information later this year. 

Strengthening Our Community Ties to Madison’s South Side 

10/14/2022 10:49:12 AM

Oct14

Successful Juneteenth Drive for Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry

Twice each year Temple Beth El members raise funds to purchase critically needed personal hygiene and cleaning supplies, and gas and grocery gift cards for the Nehemiah Allied Wellness Center Essentials Pantry. The first drive is in January around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the second is at Juneteenth. Between the two drives, we raised over $4,700 to support our neighbors in the Allied area. 

According to coordinator Betsy Abramson, the Allied Wellness Center staff is now inspired to reach out to other Madison-area congregations to follow our example, giving the Essentials Pantry a reliable source of funding for these items. Rabbi Jonathan Biatch has also made monthly donations from the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund to help out. If you would like to help with purchasing items, or getting the boxes ready on Mondays or Thursdays from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, contact Betsy Abramson to explore whether this volunteer gig is a good fit for you. 

Six Weeks of Sandwiches for Youth Program at Mount Zion Baptist Church

As part of Temple Beth El's ongoing goal of partnering with African American churches in the Madison area, we are working with Mt. Zion Baptist Church, on Madison’s south side, to provide lunches for students in their summer youth program, which introduces the kids to all kinds of new skills and careers and includes leadership training. For six Wednesdays, TBE volunteers made sandwiches and provided fruit, veggies, and cookies for 25 youth ages 12–18. Thanks to everyone who helped out, including Temple staff who volunteered to take a week!
 

Working Toward Humanitarian Parole for an Afghan Family

10/14/2022 10:42:46 AM

Oct14

by Lynn Silverman and Erica Serlin

In July 2022 the Temple Beth El Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team invited Carmel Capati, the lead immigration lawyer with the Catholic Multicultural Center, to speak about humanitarian parole for Afghans who want to come to the United States and what it would mean to provide financial sponsorship for someone seeking humanitarian parole. 

Ms. Capati told the heartbreaking story of a 13-year-old boy who had been separated from his parents when the airport in Afghanistan was bombed during the evacuation. Although this boy was rescued by an American marine and brought to the US, his parents and four siblings are still in Afghanistan. Their only hope of being reunited is through a process called “humanitarian parole,” which includes a pledge of financial sponsorship for each family member as an essential component of the application. 

After hearing the story and gaining an understanding of what sponsoring a family would mean, a group of us agreed to help this family achieve their goal of reunification. The group includes several of our Temple members, members of the two other Jewish congregations in Madison, members of three churches, and other members of the Dane Sanctuary Coalition. A local church will be sponsoring two family members, and several group members agreed to complete the paperwork to become official sponsors for the remaining four. Others in our group of 13 have agreed to contribute financially and to support this family in other ways (providing transportation, mentoring, etc.) as they adjust to a whole new culture and begin a new life. 

Unfortunately, only 2% of Afghan humanitarian parole applications have been approved nationally, but three have recently been approved for a different family in Dane County. We plan to do what we can to facilitate this family’s chance of reunification!

We’ll be meeting approximately monthly to explore providing other forms of support and assistance if and when this family arrives (which could take months to years). They will probably also be eligible for resettlement services through Jewish Social Services, Open Doors for Refugees, and the Dane County Immigration Affairs Office. 

Please contact Erica Serlin or Lynn Silverman if you would like to join us or would like to learn more about this important project.
 

Lake Wingra Water Protection and Bike Ride 

10/14/2022 10:36:40 AM

Oct14

On Sunday, July 24, twenty TBE members met for a sunny summer bike ride around Lake Wingra. Before the ride, we heard from Phil Gaebler, water resources engineer for the City of Madison, who talked about how the Lake Wingra watershed is impacted by runoff from different sources and what we can do to promote the health of the watershed. 

Mr. Gaebler gave us a great hands-on demonstration of how rainwater filters through various surfaces, by pouring water through small samples of turf grass, mulch, permeable and impermeable pavement, and native plants. He was ably assisted in this task by a small frog from the Lake Wingra area. The demonstration showed that we can greatly improve the health of the lakes by reducing turf grass, installing rain gardens, adding compost to the soil or covering it with mulch, and diverting downspouts so the water doesn’t run onto sidewalks and driveways. It’s also important to keep leaves out of the street so the added nutrients don’t end up in our lakes, increasing phosphorous content and algae growth.

Mr. Gaebler noted that a lot of good things are happening locally with lake management. Lake Wingra is heavily managed and is doing pretty well. The county is making progress in addressing agricultural runoff. Residents can also help the lakes in winter by reducing the amount of salt used on driveways and sidewalks, using shovels and push brooms more than salt. For more information about reducing residential salt use, see Saltwise. https://www.wisaltwise.com
 

Climate Change as a Driver of Human Migration

10/14/2022 10:27:48 AM

Oct14

by Lynn Silverman

Have you ever heard the term “climate change refugees” and wondered what this means? TBE was honored to welcome environmental scientist Dr. Angie Dickens on June 29 to discuss climate change and its effects on global migration. This was a joint presentation to the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Action Team and the Environment and Climate Change Action Team, followed by a lively discussion among the participants. 

Dr. Dickens has worked at the interface of environmental science and policy at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and a six-state regional planning organization. She also leads a social justice group at Christ Presbyterian Church and is a frequent speaker on the effects of climate change.

Climate change has had devastating effects throughout the world in the form of extreme heat, river and rain flooding, fire weather, droughts, frequent severe storms and hurricanes, rising sea levels, coastal flooding, erosion, and loss of water in snow, glaciers, and ice sheets. These all lead to what are called “push factors” in migration. When climate changes results in agricultural degradation and the disappearance of land, people don’t have enough to eat. They lose their sources of income and there is widespread unemployment. People who are already poor suffer increased poverty and deteriorated living conditions. Unstable political situations and violent conflicts are exacerbated. 

Ironically, the people who suffer the most from these changes, those in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia, are the people who have contributed the least to climate change. For example, the wave of immigrants from Honduras in 2021 was caused by the devastating hurricanes there in November 2020. The US reacted negatively to this wave of migration, but we contributed to the forces leading to these severe weather events.

Although the US, as a more affluent county, is better able to adapt, we too are beginning to see devastating effects and have seen people migrating within the US to different parts of the country to escape droughts, fires, and severe weather.

Dr. Dickens said that it is imperative to cut greenhouse emissions. She emphasized that while we cannot stop climate change, we can make a significant difference. She noted that there is a huge range for action, on the individual as well as the systemic level, including reducing home energy use, transportation emissions, and the waste we generate, as well as making dietary changes. She provided this website with additional resources. She also enumerated efforts we can make to facilitate systemic change, including lobbying Congress for legislative action on climate change, supporting executive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, supporting state and local action, and getting involved in an environmental justice group.

Some people may be able to adapt and stay in their homes. However, there will be many others for whom adaptation is not possible, and we can choose to make pathways to immigration more humane. In fact, shouldn’t people forced to leave their homes due to climate change be considered refugees—climate change refugees—and be given the same considerations as people needing to flee their homeland due to violence? Aren’t the devastating effects of climate change just another form of violence?

Dr. Dickens ended her presentation explaining why this issue is the responsibility of people of faith and commented that all religious traditions emphasize a call to care for the earth and the vulnerable. As Jews, we would add the focus on welcoming the stranger. Here is a recording of her presentation if you would like to listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcEDZe5z39Q
 

Our Jewish Connection, Ukraine Then and Now

10/14/2022 10:10:28 AM

Oct14

by Beth Kaplan

The Senior Havdalah program on August 27 took TBE members on a journey through the history of Jewish life in Ukraine and the challenges the country faces today in its fight to preserve its independence. 

Ukraine and Jewish History

Folklorist, amateur historian, and TBE member Carole Kantor described early migration routes from Asia to Europe. Antisemitism was a constant threat, and yet, Jews continued to make important religious and cultural contributions in the region. Expelled from their homes during the Crusades and after the Spanish Inquisition, Jews migrated from the Rhineland in western Europe to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where leaders tolerated religious diversity. In the 16th century, princes and landowners hired Jews to manage estates and collect taxes, and bankers and doctors followed them into the region. 

Then, in the 17th century, Eastern Orthodox Ukrainians and Cossacks allied themselves with Russia and led an uprising that targeted Jews along with Catholic Poles. Despite a massacre in 1648–49 that killed 20,000 Jews, Jews continued to come to Ukraine and contributed to economic recovery there. When Tsar Alexander II was killed in 1881 by socialist revolutionaries, violent anti-Jewish attacks followed. 

The Pale of Settlement, from which many of our families emigrated, was established by Catherine the Great in 1791. While Jews didn’t need permission to live there, they did need permission to live outside of it. The birth of Hasidism followed in the 18th century, and the Zionist movement and growth of Jewish literature came next in the 19th century. The city of Odesa, a city today’s Ukrainians are fighting to preserve after Russia’s invasion, is just outside of what was the Pale of Settlement. This unique city, founded in 1794, was considered nontraditional and had no restrictions on Jews moving there. It was a major hub for “highbrow” synagogues, secular music, and Yiddish folk music, as well as jazz and tango. Many noted cantors and Jewish poets hailed from this city, according to Cantor Jacob Niemi.

Between 1917 and 1920, Ukrainians tried to establish a state independent from Russia. When their efforts failed, some 100,000 Jews were killed in pogroms. Later during World War II, the Jewish population fell from 870,000 to only 17,000. Antisemitism continued unabated, and in the 1980s, Jews were finally allowed to leave Ukraine, many finding new homes in Israel.

Present Day: Boris’s story

TBE member Boris Nenide was born in Chernivtsky, Ukraine, and studied in St. Petersburg, Russia, before coming to UW–Madison in 1991 with his family. He described how 92% of Ukrainians supported Ukraine’s referendum on independence after the USSR dissolved that year. A new president and territorial guarantees followed, and later came economic challenges, corruption, and protests against the pro-Russian president Yanukowich. Some 14,000 people have been killed in a separatist war that began in 2014 in the Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Ukrainian with a Jewish background, was elected in 2019. He has rallied the world for support after Russia invaded the country in February. 

Called to act, Boris began by helping a childhood friend whose son needed medical help, rallying local friends and students in Middleton schools, where his family lives and his children attend school. He soon helped with drives for needed supplies, and support flowed in after he appeared on a local TV news show. Later he went to Ukraine and worked with a volunteer group of Russian dissidents and other immigrants helping Ukrainians, staffing 12-hour shifts on the Polish-Ukrainian border. Dozens of countries were represented, and Boris spoke of the compassion and solidarity among the volunteers.

Boris described how antisemitism has diminished in Ukraine and Poland, noting Ukraine’s commemoration of the victims of Babyn Yar, the positive reception for a French play about the Holocaust produced in a Russian-language theater, and the respect he saw among Poles toward the memory of that country’s once vibrant Jewish culture. 

He was also inspired by the dedication displayed by his fellow volunteers, some of whom had protested Russia’s invasion and had to flee. “They submerged themselves in helping others, despite enduring harsh conditions and hearing heartbreaking stories told by the people they were helping,” he said. Boris is now assembling humanitarian and military care packages and welcomes contributions to support these efforts. He is also working with others to register a new charitable organization based in the United States. 

Here are other organizations Boris suggested to help support Ukraine: Russians for Ukraine and Grain of Solace. “Helping Ukraine is immensely important,” Boris said, “not just from a humanitarian standpoint, but also for preserving and furthering liberal democracy around the world.”
 

Religious School Thanksgiving Food Drive Begins

10/14/2022 09:56:10 AM

Oct14

Each year, our Religious School children and families in partnership with our Social Action Committee gather food and donations to support the Goodman Community Center’s Thanksgiving baskets. Each grade competes in doing this mitzvah to see which class can collect the greatest number of canned or boxed goods, such as cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, broth, canned veggies, and more. 

We don’t have to tell you that food costs are up—you’ve probably seen the prices climb on your go-to foods yourself. Rising grocery costs have hit all our families in different ways, and some in our community will have difficulty making their holiday dollars stretch across every warm celebration of the season. Just getting the turkey will cost 57% more than in 2020! 

At a time when many are excitedly anticipating large family celebrations with platters of food and happy memories, others are wondering whether that holiday meal will find its way to the table. In the face of rising costs, we have the power to come together and ensure as many people as possible can enjoy a homemade-quality holiday meal with those they love most. 

This year, the Goodman Community Center plans to provide 4,000 families in Dane County with everything they need to prepare a Thanksgiving meal at home. That’s more than 25,000 Dane County residents (including 10,000 children!). For the first time in many years, they expect the cost of a basket to go up. They can’t do it without us!

Please contribute to the Goodman Center’s 34th annual Thanksgiving basket program in one of these ways:

  1.  Donate items from our list (one item, several items, or a whole flat!)

    Bring items to Temple and place them in the collection bins in the coatroom from October 19 until 11:00 am on Sunday, November 20. Anyone can donate these items, and the grade will be credited for the donation, even if it was made by a family with no students in our school. Our Mitzvah Core students will count the items on November 20 and load them into a Social Action Committee member’s car for delivery that afternoon. 

    We are collecting these items:

    • Boxes of macaroni and cheese (4K)
    • Boxes of stuffing (Kindergarten)
    • Aluminum roaster pans (1st grade)
    • Cans of fruit (2rd grade)
    • Cans of vegetables (3rd grade)
    • Gravy (4th grade)
    • Broth, any kind (5th grade)
    • Cans of cranberry sauce (6th grade)
    • 16–24 oz bottles of vegetable oil (7th grade)

      Collection bins in the Temple Coatroom
  2.  Make a monetary donation (online or by check)
    Let the Goodman Community Center do the shopping! They’ve worked with local businesses to get better prices, so any financial gift you make will go a long way. A donation of $80 will provide a family with a full meal. Monetary donations also help purchase perishable items such as dinner rolls, milk, butter, eggs, onions, potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin pie that are secured by the Goodman Community Center and added to the baskets.
    • Donate online: Go to the Goodman Center’s Thanksgiving Baskets page at 
      https://www.goodmancenter.org/events/thanksgiving-baskets and click Make a Donation. You will come to a donation page with a blue bar that says “Make a Gift to Our Thanksgiving Baskets Drive”: 
      Goodman Thanksgiving Drive Monetary donation screen
      Enter the amount and donation frequency and click “Donate.” On the checkout page, enter Temple Beth El in the “Gift made as part of a food drive organized by:” field to credit our food drive!
      Screenshot of where to enter "Temple Beth El" in the form to credit our drive.
    • To donate by check: 
      Make checks payable to Goodman Community Center
      Please include Thanksgiving Baskets (Temple Beth El) in the memo. 
      Mail checks to: 214 Waubesa St., Madison, WI 53704
  3.  Give Your Time
    It takes a lot of volunteers to make Thanksgiving baskets a success! Volunteers are needed for numerous tasks to ensure they can fill every basket. If you have time to give, learn more and sign up here: https://volunteers.goodmancenter.org/thanksgiving-basket-volunteering/

If your family needs a Thanksgiving basket:
Registration for Thanksgiving baskets opens on Monday, October 17 on the Goodman Community Center’s website. Baskets are totally free, and registrations are first-come, first-served. Open to Dane County residents only. Learn more and look for the registration here.

For more information about Thanksgiving baskets, contact Rochelle Alpert Sherman or Aleeza A. Hoffert.

We may not be able to stop the costs from going up, but we can do something to ensure that holiday memories continue to be made through food, family, and a good time. Thanks for giving so many grateful families a holiday meal to enjoy together!

High Holy Day Food Drive: Still Time to Donate

10/13/2022 04:49:46 PM

Oct13

Yom Kippur involves fasting for one day, yet millions of Americans feel this hunger regularly. Every year at this time, we ask the congregation to honor our fast by making a monetary contribution to hunger relief. If you have already made your contribution, we thank you! If not, there’s still time—please do so by Wednesday, October 19.

Last year Temple Beth El was recognized as a bronze level sponsor of Second Harvest Foodbank, which distributes millions of pounds of food each year in southern Wisconsin, and our goal is to reach that level again this year with a $10,000 contribution. The funds will also support our hunger relief efforts through our ongoing partnerships with food pantries, community centers, and schools. 

We hope you will be able to give generously to support these hunger relief initiatives. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated. 

You can donate online at tbemadison.org/donate by choosing “High Holy Day Food Drive” as the payment type, or you can send a check to the Temple office. Please make checks payable to Temple Beth El and include “Food Drive” on the memo line. 

A big thank you goes to Julia Katz, baker extraordinaire, who offered to make challah for people’s holiday tables in exchange for donations to the High Holy Day Food Drive. This year she made 21 delicious loaves for TBE members and others!
 

Save the Date: Sunday, April 23 Is Mitzvah Day

10/13/2022 04:40:43 PM

Oct13

For many years Mitzvah Day was a signature event for Temple Beth El. On that day, congregants of all ages would come together to do work needed by others in Dane County. It was an opportunity to serve our community, model Jewish values for our children, and strengthen our congregation by working together.

 

By popular demand, Mitzvah Day is coming back on Sunday, April 23, 2023. We expect to offer a wide range of projects suitable for all ages and abilities, such as cooking, sewing, painting, and planting. Everyone is welcome and everyone is needed. We will work both at Temple and out in the community, with a nosh beforehand and a community meal after. 

Planning for Mitzvah Day is now underway. If you would like to captain a project or help in some other way, please contact one of our co-chairs: Lynn Renner, Linda Reivitz, and Staci Rieder, or Aleeza A. Hoffert in the office. Come join us as we have fun by doing good!

February 7, 2023 16 Sh'vat 5783