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Social Action Committee

   "If justice and righteousness defines what it means to be a Jew, then we must constantly search for ways to implement our values. If it’s the foundation of our covenant, we cannot say, “I tried, I did my share.” Rather, every day we have to wake up and ask, “Is there something that I can do? Is there something that I didn’t do? Is there something that I could try again?” --Rabbi Steven Rein, Kol Nidre Sermon, 2017
 
   The goal of the Social Action Committee of Agudas Achim is to create opportunities for Agudas Achim members to perform Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), Tzedakah (Righteous Giving), and Gemilut Chasadim (Deeds of Loving Kindness). We provide opportunities for our membership to engage in education and dialogue, advocacy, and direct service around the following priorities of Loving Kindness.
   1. Combatting hunger and homelessness. This includes our congregation’s long term relationship with ALIVE! and Carpenter's Shelter, our Good Deeds Day service projects, and our upcoming MLK 2020 Day of Service meal packing event.
   2. Anti-racism, with a special focus on restorative justice in our education and criminal justice systems, and building our relationship with Alfred Street Baptist Church.
   3. Refugee and immigrant support, in partnership with HIAS and other NoVA synagogue social action committees.
   4. Citizenship engagement, including voter registration and partnership with other congregations on candidate forums.
   5. Gun violence prevention, in the interest of the very Jewish value of preserving life.
   6. Muslim-Jewish dialogue and anti-bigotry work, including our relationship with a local mosque.
   Get involved: Contact Committee Chair Katherine Allen at socialaction@agudasachim-va.org.
 
Contact us with questions or to discuss ways to get involved. Click the links below to find out how to help!
 
Racism and Police Brutality
"The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches us, “עת לחשות ועת לדבר - There is a time to be silent and a time to speak out.” As a community we cannot remain silent after watching the shattering video of a police officer keeping his knee on the neck of George Floyd who was crying out “I can’t breathe.” Such inhumane treatment of another human being requires a collective response from all people of conscience. The pursuit of justice is a fundamental tenet of Judaism, and thus we stand together with our brothers and sisters to declare that all life is sacred, and all people are equal before the law in a democratic society. " - Rabbi Rein, June 1, 2020
 
   The Social Action Committee of Agudas Achim has as one of its key areas of focus working with our brothers and sisters of color to combat racism in our community.  We say that black lives matter. Get involved with our work to increase our reach!
   Here are some resources for this time.
1. A video message and letter from the  Alexandria Police Department and Alexandria Chief of Police.
2. Speak Out: The NAACP has a petition in support of justice for Floyd George and we encourage people to sign.
   Our partners at Alfred Street Baptist Church recommended that social media statements showing support for our African American friends and their community at this time are deeply meaningful.
3. Self-Education: This is a critical part of racial teshuva. Avodah has resources to support white Jews' racial teshuva on their blog and web site, including videos and workshops from Jewish leaders of Color such as Dr. Koach Frazier and Yavilah McCoy, and a Shavuot piece by National Program Director Sarra Alpert on the racial divisions of COVID-19, and " The Torah Case for Reparations," by Avodah’s spiritual advisor, Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein. In support of Jews of Color, we urge congregants to consider supporting the  Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, which now has a fund to support Jews of Color affected by COVID-19.
   The National Museum of African American History and Culture has a "Talking about Race" portal with useful resources as well. Families with children may want to explore Embrace Race to learn how to help our children short circuit the subconscious racism many white children, including Jews, learn from American culture.
4. Congregants may also want to consider learning further from the organizations Campaign Zero or Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). Campaign Zero can give you ideas on what you might do to help end police violence and it also tracks legislation. Anti-racism work also involves asking uncomfortable questions about our own biases about the world around us, and SURJ facilitates such difficult discussions, questioning assumptions, and learning to have conversations that include strong views of different people. SURJ will hold a June 9th Zoom workshop on Alternatives to Calling the Police. 
 
Social Action Committee Activities
Resources for B'nai Mitzvah Projects
 
Special Focus 5780: Year of Song and Service
Special Focus 5779: Refugees and Immigrants 
Special Focus 5778: Safe Spaces
Special Focus 5777: Racial Injustice
 

Carpenter's Shelter News

Note from Shelter Staff:
   For more than 30 years, Carpenter’s Homeless Shelter has opened its hands to lend much-needed support to thousands of men, women and children in Northern Virginia. Founded by an interfaith effort in a church basement in the winter of 1988, Carpenter’s has relied on churches and synagogues to provide meals, clothing, tutoring, and most importantly, listening ears to homeless families and adults as they strive to live a more productive and healthy life.
   The shelter is incredibly grateful for their many years of support of our good work in the community.
   Many thanks to the following congregations which have graciously supported the New Heights campaign:
Agudas Achim Congregation
Alfred Street Baptist Church
Christ Church
Christ the King
Commonwealth Baptist Church
Good Shepherd Lutheran
Grace Community Church
Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill
St. Paul Christian Center
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Washington Street United Methodist Church
Westminster Presbyterian Church
 
Shelter Redevelopment News 
   The new shelter is much more than just a building, it is a safe, welcoming refuge for all. Shelter staff are working with vendors to make sure the furniture, technology and security are in sync with one another. They are striving to make residents’ transition from homeless to housed as productive and positive as possible. 
Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780