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Holy Blossom Congregants Helping Congregants

It is an honour to be a rabbi in a congregation that has so many dedicated volunteers. People help with everything—from putting on a big concert to comforting the bereaved. Some people are out front, and some people are quietly behind the scenes. I would like to highlight some initiatives of congregants helping congregants in our Kehillah Kedoshah, our holy community.

Our Bikur Cholim (Visiting the Sick) committee, under the leadership of Liz Tarshis, for many years has been organizing volunteers to visit seniors in their homes and call on the phone and making soup and coordinating meals for those in need, all which makes those who are isolated by sickness or mobility issues feel a part of their beloved Temple.

On the evening of June 26, the Bikur Cholim committee will be holding an arts night. Participants will get the chance to make Jewish themed tiles and experience Zentangle, a meditative art led by Dena Perlmuter and Lesley Miller. We will use the designs as cards that are sent to congregants. If you would like to participate and learn more about this committee’s work, click here.

We are always looking for more volunteers who would like to visit or call seniors, and if you know of a senior member who would benefit from a visitor or a meal, please contact me.

Another way many of our congregants are there to help other congregants is through the mitzvah of nichum avelim—comforting the bereaved. We have volunteers the lead evening services in people’s homes during the week of Shiva. Led by Larry Schwartz and Jeff Levy, these dedicated service leaders come at the spur of the moment to bring a calm presence and meaningful prayer to a house of mourning.

To support mourners Holy Blossom also offers Understanding Your Bereavement and Healing on Tuesday evenings after evening services. Supported by our congregant Elen Steinberg in memory of her mother Anna, these drop-in sessions are meant to bring those in grief together for support and insight into the mourning process with the help of an experienced counsellor and one of our clergy.

One last initiative that I would like to highlight that is just getting off the ground. Members of Holy Blossom who live at the Forrest Hill Place retirement home come to us to help them create a more heimish Shabbat experience before their Friday night dinners. Our board member has heard the call and is creating a short service with songs and kiddush. We are looking for volunteers to go to lead and visit with our members. We are also looking to expand to other retirement homes. If you know of friends or loved ones who would like a Friday Shabbat experience and/or you want to volunteer, let me know. (We will teach you some songs if you need a brush-up.)

Being a Kehillah Kedoshah is right in our name—Kehillah Kedoshah Pirchei Kodesh, and that is why the Board has created a new department called Kehillah Kedoshah under the leadership of Jill Witkin to house all of these initiatives and many more. As we renew our space and spirit, we are always looking for more ways to connect congregants in caring relationships.

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