“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”
(Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.)

At Congregation Beth Israel, our dedication to pursuing social justice comes from the Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world.

Mental Health and Addictions Initiative Meeting
Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30pm

Join our mental health initiative to discuss upcoming programming to support our community. We’ll focus on plans to put supports in place for our congregants who are dealing with mental illness and addictions.


GHIAA RACIAL JUSTICE TRAININGS (Registration Required)

Join Racial Justice Facilitators and GHIAA leaders as we learn and practice skills to uproot racial injustice and root ourselves and our congregations more deeply in a lifelong commitment to racial justice and collective liberation. Together we will deepen our understanding, awareness, and skill to identify action steps for change to create greater racial justice. This training is designed for both BIPOC and white individuals looking to explore the ways our multiple identities and experiences inform how we show-up in multi-racial spaces with compassion and a commitment to racial justice.

For questions: Contact Judy Levy: judyglevy@gmail.com, 860-924-8748 and Sue Fulletonsuef4940@gmail.com, 860-810-0027, GHIAA CBI Core Team Co-Chairs


VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Volunteer with Foodshare’s Mobile Truck
Fridays at 1:00pm, May 3, 31 & June 28
Join us in our front driveway and help distribute food from Foodshare’s mobile truck. Contact Pat Pierce at bookfanpat@gmail.com or Kim Howe at kimjhowe1211@gmail.com.

Become a Reading Mentor through the Children’s Reading Partners
Join the dozens of CBI congregants who have enriched the program over the past 25+ years and helped kids realize the power and joy of reading. Contact Ronnie Brieter through www.jewishhartford.org/childrens-reading-partners

Cook for Loaves & Fishes
Once a month we cook a meal in our kitchen for Loaves & Fishes. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact our office at 860-233-8215 or bethisrael@cbict.org.


SUPPORT ISRAEL

CLICK HERE to go to our ‘Support Israel’ web-page which is continually being updated with information on community events, how to donate, education resources, and prayers for Israel.


MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

From CBI’s Mental Health and Addiction Initiative:
Since October 7, we have all witnessed, via the media, mass murder and atrocities in Southern Israel that are reminiscent of some of the darkest periods in Jewish history. As we seek out ways to make an impact, we also need to protect our own mental health and our capacity to function. Many of us do not appreciate the extreme emotional distress associated with repeatedly following the news and social media. Uninterrupted news coverage and the regular consumption of video and pictures of tragedies creates and exacerbates trauma in people. For most folks, this can very likely show up with increased anxiety, sleep difficulty, and depression. It can be challenging to balance a desire to stay informed with the need to care for ourselves. One way to do this is to create boundaries for ourselves around our social media and news intake. Consider establishing a schedule for yourself and choosing to check the news once or twice a day during designated times, then commit to filling your remaining free time with activities that bring you joy and satisfaction. If you notice that you are particularly impacted, this may be a time to take a break from social media entirely. Sadly it seems that the crisis in Israel is not going to come to a swift conclusion. This means we will likely be in a heightened state for some time ahead and need to be sure to put systems in place that will enable us to care for our mental health. Please see below for additional articles to help:

War’s enduring legacy: How does trauma haunt future generations? https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/trauma-survivors-generations

How to cope with traumatic stress
https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/stress

Resilience in a time of war: Tips for parents and teachers of elementary school children
https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience/kids-war


Read here for the 2023 yearly update on all GHIAA activities:

GHIAA Core Team Year in Review: Thank you to everyone who gave testimony, oral and written, made calls to legislators and attended events.
Click HERE for local mental health resources: Following our Mental Health Shabbat service on April 21, 2023, we are dedicated to continuing to provide resources related to mental health issues to help guide our congregants and community.
Click HERE for our Peer Connection Resource form if you’d like to offer your assistance to people in our community (this service does not replace recommended help from medical professionals).

Click HERE for an article on our Mental Health Shabbat (4/21/23) by Steven Madonick, MD and Judy Levy

Click HERE for Dr. Susan Levine’s article in our July/August 2023 Bulletin: Climate Change and Environmental Justice


Social Justice Coordinating Committee Overview:

What keeps you up at night? Is it racism, gender-based violence, climate change, the need for criminal justice reform, immigration, gun violence, LGBTQ rights, health care disparities; or maybe homelessness or hunger? The question to ask yourself is: what do you care the most about and what is the best way for you to affect change?

Many of you have found your way toward action through your jobs and your CBI volunteer work.
We want to just share with you a framework for that action through our congregation, a framework that is changing. The Social Justice Coordinating Committee changed its name a few years back, adding the
“Coordinating.” This was a recognition of the fact that much of what we do in social justice at CBI
happens outside of any single committee, and now more and more often the work of social justice
happens outside of the walls of our synagogue. In addition to moving toward a coordinating role, we have also taken a critical look at the kinds of activities we engage in. They fall into 3 main pillars: tzedakah, advocacy and community organizing.

Tzedakah
includes the more traditional service projects- Typically linked to highly effective partners, these include the back pack drive thru Covenant to Care for Children, the Yom Kippur Food drive, working in the Loaves and Fishes kitchen, joining in the community walk for Hunger, reading mentorship programs, just to name a few of many many rich programs that we have had in some instances for decades.

Advocacy
is something different. This refers to trying to get public support for a particular cause. Over the years many of you have joined forces on the steps of the capital to be heard on one cause or another. You have gone to rallies, some have testified in public hearings. We have had legislators come and speak and listen to our concerns and we have joined in a number of Religious Action Center campaigns.

Community Organizing
is yet a different animal. This refers to individuals who are directly affected by the issue at hand, banning together to make meaningful change. This is what our GHIAA (Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance) initiative is all about. Through the leadership of our rabbis and a core team of 12 CBI members, trained by the Center for Leadership and Justice, GHIAA is now a powerful coalition of 40 faith groups including 9 synagogues working together on a handful of specific and actionable issues around housing, criminal justice reform, healthcare and education. Click HERE for GHIAA’s 2023 Issues Slate.

Here is what the reform movement and our Religious action center have to say on the most pressing
issues of our time:
https://rac.org/advocacy-activism-why-advocacy-central-reform-judaism
https://urj.org/what-we-believe

When you think about how to engage in social justice at CBI think about what are the issues you care
the most about and how do you choose to engage. Take a look below for a more complete description of all we do at CBI.

CCIU (Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding)
ARTF (Antiracism Task Force)
RJAT (Racial Justice Activating Team)

Get Involved

Our Mitzvah Day of 2023 was a wonderful day of service and community with five other synagogues. Volunteers of all ages gathered to make blankets, sandwiches, toiletry bags, and cards to benefit South Park Inn, Hands on Hartford, House of Bread, and Hoffman Summerwood Community. Thank you to everyone who volunteered and made donations!

Weekly and ongoing volunteer opportunities and drives to benefit those in need are included in our calendar at cbict.org/calendar and weekly Chai Lights e-newsletter. To subscribe to Chai Lights, please email bethisrael@cbict.org.

Regular volunteer opportunities are available through our partnerships with Foodshare and Loaves and Fishes‘ Soup Kitchen in Hartford. One Friday afternoon at 1pm each month volunteers help distribute food from Foodshare’s mobile truck at CBI. Also once a month, volunteers cook a meal at CBI and it is then delivered to Loaves and Fishes. Check cbict.org/calendar for the most up-to-date volunteer opportunities.