Judaism teaches that each life is sacred and that we are obligated to do what we can to help others. Many members of our Minyan have strong personal commitments to those precepts, and as a group, we do, too. We have taken on several commitments toward tikkun olam (healing, repairing, transforming the world) in our local Jewish and secular communities, around the country, and around the world. We also respond and help in various ways to events that unfold throughout the year, both locally and around the globe
Chessed Committee. We help our fellow Minyan members when they need help. It is how we build connections and create community, and everyone knows that they can rely on the Minyan for as much or as little assistance as necessary.
Often, this means that we bring meals to someone who is recuperating from surgery or an illness, or who has recently had a baby or adopted a child, or is on bedrest. It can also mean driving someone to an appointment, or shopping for their groceries, or bring a shiva meal or minyan to someone’s home after the death of a close relative.
Tzedakah Collective. We collectively support charitable organizations that assist Jews and non-Jews, far and near, through our annual drive. Following our belief that we can make a greater difference by pooling our resources, we decide together which organizations to support in the name of the Highland Park Minyan. Each year, Minyan members nominate charities that are potential recipients of our group donation, and we vote for the ones we’d like to support at the time we make our individual contributions. All monies collected this way are divided equally among the top vote-getters.
This procedure gives us an opportunity to help groups with particular needs in any given year and it educates Minyan members about worthy charities they might want to support individually. And perhaps equally importantly, it educates these charitable organizations about the Minyan and our commitment to justice, service, and the welfare of others around the world.
Elijah’s Promise. We have been working with Elijah’s Promise for over twenty years, and have seen them grow from just a soup kitchen to a local institution offering training and support programs that use food to relieve hunger, break the cycle of poverty, and change lives. They have been helping low-income people in central New Jersey since 1989 and we are proud to be part of their solutions to empower those who often feel helpless.
Highland Park Community Food Pantry. Our local food pantry was established by Highland Park Borough to provide non-perishable food to residents and workers in need. It currently serves about 250 registered households although anyone who is hungry is welcome to come in for staple foods. Our food drive typically takes place around the High Holy Days, but we often collect and deliver foods again as we head into the depths of winter.
Interfaith-RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Services & Empowerment). We are a member of Interfaith-RISE, a non-profit refugee resettlement agency certified by the U.S. State Department as such. Interfaith-RISE is a coalition of more than 70 congregations of different faiths and civic groups committed to welcoming the stranger in central New Jersey. As a member of the coalition, we help with the financial and physical work of creating homes for newly arriving refugees and asylees, bringing them to their new homes, registering their children for school, and generally supporting them in their journeys to becoming self-sufficient and productive citizens of their new country. Along the way, we serve as painters, carpenters, drivers, chaperones, baby-sitters, teachers, and compassionate friends. We also advocate for refugees in their communities, finding leads on jobs and openings in English-language programs, introducing them to local banks and bankers, and teaching them how to use public transit. A Minyan member sits on the executive board of Interfaith-RISE, and several members attend regular meetings and participate in various decision-making processes to further the work of Interfaith-RISE.
Peace of Mind. We house veterans of the IDF while they are in the U.S. for intensive therapeutic work. That work is part of Peace of Mind, a 9-month intervention program in Israel that serves soldiers released from high-risk combat units who face difficult transitions back to civilian life. The core of the program includes being hosted by a Jewish community overseas for the most intensive part of their therapeutic work, and we are honored to be one of those Jewish communities.
We work together with other Jewish groups in the greater Highland Park / Edison / New Brunswick area to raise funds and arrange social activities for the ultimate goal of welcoming and hosting an IDF unit into our homes so they can participate in uninterrupted group counselling.
The warmth and acceptance the soldiers receive from our diaspora Jewish community gives them a sense of love, support, and purpose in defending the State of Israel.