Ohef Sholom Temple takes Tikkun Olam to heart

December 23, 2014

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On any Sunday when Ohef Sholom’s Religious School is in session, tzedakah is given, and mitzvah projects are set in motion. The Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, however, was unique because each of the 12 classrooms collected canned foods to be part of a larger community effort to provide a holiday meal for 50 families who are clients of Jewish Family Service and students at Chesterfield Academy Elementary School, a public school in Norfolk.

Ohef Sholom Temple (OST) committed to provide a complete meal with all the trimmings to these needy families for the holidays. In addition to traditional marketing efforts within the temple, OST Caring committee co-chairs Dorianne Villani and Alyssa Muhlendorf contacted businesses to host their own Thanksgiving drives. An enthusiastic group of nurses at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, for example, raised enough money among the staff to purchase almost half of the 550 items needed and nine turkeys! Bruce Frieden at the Frieden Agency and Ron Spindel at the Spindel Agency marketed the food drive and collected nonperishable food. Andy Kline and Jeffrey Kline encouraged the staff at Payday Payroll to give generously, and produced boxes of food and winter clothing. Creating the holiday food baskets became a true community effort and is an example of the impact that can be made when individuals, businesses and organizations work cooperatively.

Betty Ann Levin, executive director of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater says, “The JFS/Ohef Sholom Temple partnership is great and a model for what partnerships should be in the community.”

Ohef Sholom Temple prioritizes ongoing community outreach. Four years ago, the temple began opening its doors on the last Monday of each month to serve a hot, nutritious lunch and to distribute toiletries and clothing to its homeless neighbors. Two years ago, OST became one of the few community sponsors of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s Child Nutrition program to fund, package and deliver bi-weekly food back packs so children in poverty have food to eat over the weekends with their families. The Caring Committee also organizes quarterly multi-generational community mitzvah opportunities called, “Tikkun Olam Together,” serves meals multiple times a year at the Judeo- Christian Outreach Center in Virginia Beach, and co-hosts a week of NEST (Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team), which provides people without a home a warm place to eat a hot dinner and breakfast and to sleep out of the elements.

Through outreach, Ohef Sholom strives to repair the world and demonstrates with actions that Judaism is a religion of peace and commitment to the larger community.

To learn more about Ohef Sholom’s community outreach programs, contact Linda Peck, director of Congregational Life, at 625-4295.

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