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We’re looking forward to the Union for Reform Judaism's 2017 Biennial from December 6-10 in Boston, where 5,000 Reform Jews will gather for the largest Biennial ever. For those who are unable to attend in person, there will be numerous opportunities to connect through live stream broadcasts, social media, and with an inspiring act of tzedakah (using money to do the work of world-repair or, literally, justice).
In Parashat Vayeishev, which we will read during the Shabbat of Biennial, we learn about Joseph, whose beautiful coat of many colors is ruined when it is smeared with blood by his brothers, who are overcome by jealousy. Like Joseph, many in our world are without coats. For them, on this Shabbat, we will carry coats of many colors into services, not only affirming the humanity we all share, but also reminding us of our own days as coatless wanderers, hungry for compassion, hopeful for a place to call home.
We invite you to use Amazon.com to purchase and send new, unworn coats – for toddlers, children and adults – to Biennial. The coats will be used in a ritual during the Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday evening December 8, and then donated to City Mission, a non-profit organization that works to root out poverty in Boston neighborhoods. With a strategic focus on homelessness prevention, City Mission provides social services, clothing, and school supplies to more than 3,000 homeless K-12 students. If you prefer to purchase and ship a coat yourself – or send a new, warm scarf, which also would be an appreciated contribution – this is the alternative shipping information.
As we celebrate Shabbat – with joy, with blessings, with meaning – it will bring us comfort, it will bring us warmth, it will lift us up. It also will remind us of the many who have no coats to protect them from life’s storms. May we, in turn, lift them, offering the warmth and protection they need.