Our congregation has a history of coming together to help others in need. We have long been a pillar in the Baltimore community for social justice, standing for racial equality, same-sex freedoms, and other justice concerns. Additionally, our efforts in social action have aided our local and global community where needs in hunger, health and more exist. We are always on the lookout for additional social action efforts in which we can assist. BHC takes pride in our social action and justice work, which we see as Tikkun Olam—our Jewish imperative to repair the world—and we hope that you will join the cause.
BHC has responded and continues to respond to the unrest in our city through a number of approaches. In the weeks following the riots in Baltimore, our congregation began a relationship with the predominantly African-American Open Church of Baltimore. We have shared Bible study and conversation, which we are calling “Faith and Fairness.” These meetings have been deeply meaningful – intellectually and spiritually. We intend to deepen this relationship and move toward joint action with the Open Church. Additionally, BHC will be discussing books on race and justice in America. Our first book was "Waking Up White" by Debby Irving. To participate in “Faith and Fairness” with the Open Church or the reading group, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, view Rabbi Sachs-Kohen’s relevant blog posting for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, blogs.rj.org.
Additionally, BHC hosted First Mount Olive Freewill Baptist Church's services for several years between their devastating fire and their move to a new home. Our relationship with them continues through interfaith services as part of an annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
According to Maryland Hunger Solutions, 16.2% of Maryland households reported an inability to afford enough food. So, 1 in 6 residents in our state are challenged by hunger. BHC fights hunger in several ways:
• Every year, our High Holy Day Food Drive provides approximately 1,000 bags of food to the hungry clients of GEDCO Cares, of which we are a member organization. Congregants participate by bringing in bags or becoming a “food drive family” and spreading bags around their neighborhoods for collection. INFO: Chair, Steve Cornblatt, email@example.com.
• BHC provides Our Daily Bread with a steady flow of casseroles. Congregants can prepare these with a simple recipe for barbecue chicken. Pans are supplied as well as the recipe. INFO: Sally Palmbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org or simply pick up the pans, recipe and schedule at the Temple Office. To download the recipe, click here.
• Other synagogue hunger efforts exist, including work by our Brotherhood and Sisterhood and our participation in Community Mitzvah Day.
You can help save lives as a Get Swabbed volunteer. In 2013 and 2014, BHC’s Yom Kippur Gift of Life drive garnered nearly 300 potential donors to be added to the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry! Now, our continued effort will be aimed at swabbing and registering individuals of the Baltimore community. We have already had drives with schools, camps and other groups. Your time commitment would be up to you as the drives are at different times and locations. INFO: Phyllis Lederman, email@example.com or Amy Sponseller, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have investigated the possibility of installing solar panels at BHC. When we face replacement of the roofs, in about 10 years, we will revisit the idea and there is a good chance that we can do something. Whenever we might build again, it is certain that we will design the roofs to be solar ready.
On the electricity usage reduction front, we are deep into LED installation projects including exit lights, the Chapel exterior and entrance canopy, the Straus Social Hall, and soon the Park Heights exterior entrance, parts of the Chapel, and many other interior lamps.
We have ordered an “Autani” wireless energy control system that will allow remote control and planning for our exterior illumination, HVAC systems, etc. This should be a big help to gain control over our usage and provide scientific and immediate feedback; it allows incremental addition of systems as we find more uses. Best of all, it doesn’t require any extensive rewiring in our old and complicated building.
On a parallel note, we are working on plans to improve our “impervious surface rain run-off” profile. We had an audit by Blue Water, and will soon begin work on an area near the E.B. Hirsh Early Childhood Center entrance. We expect it to be a multi-year endeavor that will lower our run-off and lower our tax burden. Thanks again for your suggestions and keep them coming. David Weis, Controller, will be glad to take you on a tour to see what we have done and plan to do.
INFO: David Weis, email@example.com or 410-764-1587, ext. 243.
BHC teens have multiple opportunities for social action and social justice. Each year, BHC’s Confirmation class attends the L’Taken Seminar in Washington D.C., where they learn about lobbying and actually get the chance to interface with their representatives. Also, a new effort has begun to create annual social action trips. In April 2015, a group of teens traveled to Memphis with Rabbi Sachs-Kohen, Brad Cohen, Educator, and a congregant chaperone. There they focused their energy on learning and acting on social action. Stay tuned for more about next year’s trip. Last, social action is a significant part of our Youth Education program, including special projects on Sunday mornings and with our youth groups, and a Religious School Mitzvah Fair. INFO: Brad Cohen, Director of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-764-1587, ext. 290.