Kehilat Chesed-How Reform Congregations Are Creating Caring Communities
Kehilat Chesed --Caring Community offers the individual members of congregations the opportunity redefine their synagogue culture as a loving community that sustains the spiritual, physical and mental wellness and growth of its members. Caring Community is enacted in many Reform Synagogues all over North America with enormous success. To invigorate your efforts in transforming your synagogue into a Kehilat Chesed, we would love to share with you a few successful ideas from the congregations listed below.
Caring Community Volunteer Corps (CCVC)provides support and connection within the TBE community during times of joy and sorrow, offering meals and rides.
Mitzvah Matcha program that assists members with grocery shopping or other errands on a bi-monthly or as needed basis. Mitzvah Match goes beyond the call for occasional meals or rides. We assist members who need on-going support in many different ways.
NachamuConducts shiva services for fellow congregants. Nachamu has created a comprehensive bereavement guide for the TBE community.
Welcoming Servicesa program to integrate new members into the TBE community.
Women Cancer Survivors Support Group (WCSSG)offers support to TBE members and organizes donations for the UM Cancer Center.
Spirituality and Community Programs
Healing, Spirituality and Meditationexplores Jewish spirituality and meditation and offers classes and retreats that are open to the community
Jewish Hikers of Michiganhiking group offers spiritual, social and physical activities in nature for the Jewish community. Monthly events are planned for both adults and children. The group is open to the community.
Women's Rosh Chodesha short, monthly service that is followed by a discussion, study session, or special presentation for women celebrating Jewish spirituality. The program is open to the community.
Chavurot Affinity Groups
Caregiving Support for Adult Childrentwo groups meet monthly to support adult children caring for an aging relative.
Renaissance Groupfor members in the 50+ age group as well as members in their forties without children in the religious school; monthly social, educational, religious and cultural activities coordinated by members.
Families with Young Childrenprovides holiday-related programming for families with young children aged 0-5, such as Tot Shabbat and Tot Chanukah. Open to the community.
Twenties and Thirties (TNTa group of members in their twenties and thirties, TNT offers social, cultural, and social action activities. Open to the community.
Interfaith Couples Discussion Groupcouples gather monthly for an informal discussion on the issues of intermarriage. Free childcare is provided.
Twice Blesseda group committed to meeting the unique needs of the Jewish Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender community. Provides educational & social opportunities focused on the experience of being both Jewish and gay. Open to the community. Visit the URJ's LGBT website on how to become a more inclusive congregation.
Congregants may become the Trained Volunteers, who provide three 30 minute sessions, full of stimulation and interaction, for the care partners(patients)in order to provide the caregivers with some respite.Visit the Interfaith CarePartners website for more information.
San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-Elhas innovated with a new idea to
increase awareness and grow new Caring Community volunteers.
With these cards shown below,
Emanu-El's Caring Community members are handing out cards to
congregants, including them with Shabbat dinners, new baby bags,
condolence notes, etc.
The Chair of Congregation Emanu-El's Caring Community: "I
want to add that several of our volunteers were once recipients of our
notes, visits, dinners, etc. and having once received, they now want to
"give back." The handing out of cards adds a personal touch to our quest
for volunteers. We have been posting so called "ads" for volunteers in
several temple publications for months and have had only minimal
success. We feel the cards will be handed out and given to recipients in
a more one-on-one manner and will hopefully recruit more actual