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This Year’s High Holy Days Food Drive Will Broaden TBE Support for Hunger Relief

by Sherie Sondel

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I, Adonai, am your God. Leviticus 19:9-10


For years, congregants at Temple Beth El have been working to combat hunger through their donations, service, and advocacy.  We recognize the fear and difficult decisions many people in our community must make on a daily basis to obtain enough food. We know this is especially devastating for children, where chronic hunger can result in impaired mental and physical functioning, behavioral problems, and delayed development.

The Social Action Committee has long raised funds for hunger relief through the High Holy Days Food Drive. In recent years these funds have been donated to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, which uses a cost-efficient system to purchase and distribute millions of pounds of food each year through local partners. The funds from this year’s food drive will continue to be donated primarily to Second Harvest, in recognition of their efficiency and our long-standing commitment to their work. (In fact, the name “Second Harvest” refers to the gleanings of the fall harvest described in Leviticus).

Additionally, this year some of the food drive funds will be used to support other TBE hunger-relief initiatives. These programs will include:

  • TBE members prepare and serve dinner to about 100 homeless men through the Porchlight emergency shelter program on the 5th Wednesday of the month. The meal is cooked in the TBE kitchen and then served at Porchlight in the Grace Episcopal Church.  Food for breakfast is also provided for the following morning.
  • TBE will be joining an interfaith program at Thoreau Elementary School, one mile from Temple Beth El.   As a result of weekend food insecurity among almost half of the student body, community partners have been meeting to develop a program for the next school year. Non-perishable food items designed to provide two nutritious meals will be sent home for the weekend to struggling families.
  • TBE will continue to work with the Road Home in a different capacity. The Road Home coordinates meals for families staying at Healing House, a new project of Madison-Area Urban Ministry. Healing House provides a temporary medical home for homeless families who have recently been released from the hospital or who need housing while they recuperate from illness.  We, along with our sister congregations, will provide meals for approximately 4 weeks per year.
  • The Religious School will continue to collect food for Thanksgiving baskets provided through the Goodman Community Center. Last year Religious School families donated hundreds of cans and boxes of food as part of a community-wide effort to feed 3900 needy families. Through this program we help the next generation understand this important mitzvah.

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

As always, we will distribute donation envelopes at Rosh Hashanah services. Please make checks payable to “Temple Beth El” and include “Food Drive” on the memo line. You can return the envelope on Yom Kippur to the big brightly-colored tzedakah box in the Community Court, or mail it back to Temple.

You can donate online by clicking HERE. Please choose High Holy Day Food Drive as the Type. 

If you want to engage in policy-based advocacy at the state and federal level, see the many resources available through Mazon. Inspired by Jewish values and ideals, Mazon is a national advocacy organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds, in the United States and Israel.

Thanks again for all you have done and continue to do to fight hunger in our community.

TBE Social Action Committee

September 18, 2020 29 Elul 5780