"Reform Jews are committed to social justice. ... A Reform synagogue that does not alleviate the anguish of the suffering is a contradiction in terms."
— Rabbi Eric Yoffie, speech to the UAHC Executive Committee, February 1998
Beth Israel - The West Temple has an ongoing commitment to support the SCAN Hunger Center Pantry, to collect toiletries and supplies for residents of the Rose Centers for Aging Well, and to participate in the Greater Cleveland Congregations. Our youth group regularly volunteers to serve meals at the Men's Shelter at 2100 Lakeside Ave. We post other mitzvah opportunities (occasions for individual volunteering) as they come up.
SCAN (Southwest Community Action Network) Hunger Center Pantry was founded in 2000 by Lona Gruber, a member of Beth Israel - The West Temple, when she discovered that the needs of hungry residents of southwestern Cuyahoga County were not being met by any local agency. The congregation supports SCAN through an ongoing collection drive at the temple, with special emphasis on collecting bags of food during the High Holy Days. As part of the Second Harvest Food Network, SCAN also receives support from private individuals and companies.
Congregational support has been “stupendous and important,” according to Gruber, who continues to serve as executive director. The staff is all volunteer, and, in her words, “every can, every roll of toilet paper that comes in is given away. Each family receives food for three days, and we have never turned anyone away or closed for lack of food.”
Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) is a nonpartisan coalition of faith communities and partner organizations in Cuyahoga County working together to build power for social justice. GCC unites people across lines of race, class, religion, and geography to promote public-, private- and civic-sector actions that strengthen and improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods.
GCC arrives at issue priorities by engaging thousands of Cuyahoga County residents in person-to-person and small-group meetings discussing the future of our region. From January-March 2011, over 2,000 people participated in these conversations, including many at Beth Israel – The West Temple. A smaller group of 400 then met to vote on which topics to pursue together. The group is now focused on the broad issues of education, jobs, health care, criminal justice, sustainable food, and gun violence.
Led by Rabbi Enid Lader and our Social Action Committee, BI-TWT members have made our voices heard at GCC rallies, and by contacting our elected officials to move forward our goals.