Congregation Beth El celebrates, gives, and recycles

January 21, 2021

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Hanukkah around the world together
Beth El celebrated Hanukkah each night with collective candle lighting, singing, and sharing that took the congregation around the world and back again. Several members grew up in other countries and shared stories and childhood memories of their Hanukkah celebrations. Mike Ashe and Sonia Stein shared stories from France, Vivian Simon from Morocco, and Gary Baum and Janice Foleck from Great Britain. Rabbi Ron Koas, Beth El’s new, incoming rabbi, shared Hanukkah memories from growing up in Israel. The outpouring of members to welcome Rabbi Koas was fabulous and an inciteful question and answer period followed the program. For the last night, Beth El joined with the National Celebration of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ). Again, sharing with brothers and sisters all over the country gave such a wonderful feeling of warmth and togetherness.

It’s not quite the same as being able to celebrate in person, but Zoom provided the next best thing, though the congregation hasn’t conquered “virtual latkes” yet!

Food drives
The COVID-19 Virus has brought so much food insecurity into Tidewater that Beth El was moved to help those who are suffering. Beth El Feeds Tidewater was established as a 7-month initiative to help various agencies providing food to those in need. Starting in December and going all the way through June, once a month, the congregation will hold a food drive. In December, enough food and cash were collected for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia to furnish more than 2,800 meals for those in need. This month’s recipient will be The Village Family. To donate, call the Beth El office for details.

Plastic into benches
Last, but not least, Beth El saved more than 500 pounds of plastic bags and wrapping from going into landfills or oceans by collecting it and recycling it to the TREX Company. TREX converts this plastic into useable material for decking and furniture. This, in turn also helps to save forests. For doing this, the congregation will be rewarded with a beautiful TREX bench for its courtyard. A heartfelt “Thank You-Todah Rabah” to all who participated in another Tikun Olam program. Beth El will begin collecting for its second and final bench and hopes to remind everyone how important it is to help the environment, even if there is no reward, except for the most important reward— the effect it has in making the world a better and cleaner place to live.

- Linda Samuels

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