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Social Action News

A Great Passover Chametz Food Drive!

SAC member Ala Hamilton Day completed our successful 2024 Passover Chametz donation drive, benefiting the Delco Food Bank and the Federation Mitzvah Pantry. Her car was loaded with many, many bags and boxes of high quality food, including cans of meat, milk powder, and staples like canned vegetables and breakfast-ready cereals.

Refugee Shabbat at BI on February 3rd

The Social Action Committee participated in the February 3rd 2024 “Refugee Shabbat” led by Rabbi Linda and SAC member Miriam Sigler. The service was promoted nationally by HIAS, representing the immigration and refugee assistance community.

30 members and guests attended the service, which focused on our historic relationship with being refugees and on current affairs, with guest speakers Lev Cerbov and Mohammad Sadiq Sadeed describing their experiences of becoming refugees from their home countries due to sudden political and societal upheaval.

Partnering with Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee for "13th"

Social Action partnered with Rabbi Linda and the Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee for the January 13th 2024 screening of "13th," a film by Ana DuVernay about the lingering effects of the 13th amendment on the Black population of American. 30 members attended the event, with a discussion led by ARCC and SAC member Julie Mayer. 

January 29th Food Service Another Success

The Social Action Committee is grateful for the incredible dinner foods, desserts, lunch and breakfast items, paper products, and toiletries that were provided by our amazing community for food service at the Life Center in Upper Darby on Monday, January 29. Thanks to John Greenstine, Beth Ruby, Elaine Feldman, Reisa Mukamal, Jane Laffend, Jen and Madeline Katz-Buonincontro, Amy Strauss, Carol Briselli, Lydia Kendis, Katie Sibley, Marilyn Verbits, Heidi Carp, Lois Deutsch, Joyce Romoff, Linda Cohen, Wendy Waterston, and Selene Platt for cooking, baking, and purchasing paper products for the clients. A special shout out to Joe Deutch for helping with the collection of the food at BI. 

Our 2023 High Holidays Food Drive Brought the Goods!

Bottles of oil, bags of rice, and boxes of diapers, along with cans of chicken, jars of peanut butter, and squeeze bottles of mustard, spilled out of the bags taken to the Media Food Bank.  There were five separate deliveries, by Peter Bernstein, John Greenstine, and Ala Hamilton-Day, for a total of 100 bags transported.  The purchases of grocery gift cards, done in conjunction with the Federation's grocery gift card drive, totalled $600.  Those cards were given to Paul Mickle of the Food Bank to purchase fresh fruit, veggies and other desperately needed items.

Thanks to all who helped with this hugely successful High Holiday fo we are a caring community working to fight hunger in our neighborhood.  Thank you!od drive!  Effusive praise for your efforts was given every time a drop off was made.  

Here is a list of items needed by the Food Bank. You can buy and deliver to them 5 days a week.                                     

 Canned proteins, such as chicken, salmon, sardines and tuna.                                 Condiments including ketchup, mustard, olive oil, vinegar and mayonnaise
Rice, beans, pasta and Ramen noodles 
Oatmeal and cereals
Cans and jars of fruits, vegetables and soups
Ground coffee, tea, hot cocoa packets
Kid snacks
Also, requests were made for toilet paper and for diapers, especially the larger sizes.

Through efforts such as providing food for the Upper Darby Life Center shelter, donating to the Media Food Bank, and helping deliver boxes of food for the Jewish Relief Agency, Beth Israel is on the frontlines of the fight against hunger.  “Will you join in?  Who will be strong and stand with me?”  Please step up, as we need your help!

Questions? Contact Ala Hamilton-Day ( or John Greenstine (

Creating Gift Bags for Recent Immigrants

Our WELCOME KITS DRIVE on Mitzvah Day put students, parents and members together to bag 50 adult hygiene kits for newly arrived refugees. Hebrew School students from Beth Israel, Beth El-Ner Tamid and Ohev Shalom teamed up for a day of Mitzvah Day learning, entertainment and social action, culminating in donating 50 kits to HIAS PA to distribute. The event was coordinated with the Jewish Federation and its celebration of the 75th birthday of the State of Israel. 

Fantastic Success for A Better Start for Babies

BREAKING NEWS: This program has received a grant from the Foundation for Delaware County to help underwrite our 2023-2024 campaign!

Our Social Action Committee succeeded in its goal of delivering even more bags of much needed items for new moms and their infants cared for at ChesPenn, a federally qualified health care clinic in Chester. In 2022 we were able to double our first year's donations to create 73 bags, which provided supplies for about half the newborns and their mothers who came to the clinic. In February 2023 we delivered over 90 bags in our first wave, and we hope to get to 150 bags or more by the time we're done, so every mother over the course of the year can get one.  We are accomplishing this with the help of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Wallingford and Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid in Broomall. 

The Social Action team of Judy Kinman, Julie Mayer, Carol Briselli and John Greenstine were joined on delivery day by ChesPenn pediatricians Kai Turner, Ashley Henderson and ChesPenn CEO Susan Harris McGovern.The A Better Start for Babies project, created by our committee, is a response to the great need of so many mothers cared for by ChesPenn. Many have no resources, often no family to support them. The list of items was developed with input from the staff and pediatricians at ChesPenn, who see the needs every day. Each bag has a monetary value of approximately $100.

Additionally, Dr. Ashley Henderson, a pediatrician at ChesPenn, was awarded the 2023 Mary DeWitt Pettit, MD Fellowship, to study “the impact of low-cost baby bundles on postpartum depression in under resourced communities”.  Dr. Henderson’s research will be conducted at the Drexel University College of Medicine.

The Social Action team of Judy Kinman, Julie Mayer, Carol Briselli and John Greenstine were joined on delivery day by ChesPenn pediatricians Kai Turner and Ashley Henderson.

SAC hosts MLK Day Knitting for Babies, Military and First Responders

BI knitters and crocheters met on January 16 to create hats for infants in the "A Better Start for Babies" program, and scarves and hats for military and first responders. Lisa Jackson, an expert knitter, shared personal tips. Crafters (and kibitzers) included Lynn Cashell, Jane Laffend, Elaine Wasekanes, Judy Kinman, guest Lisa Jackson, Amy Binder, Joyce Romoff, Robin Shaufler, Alan Feldman, Elaine Feldman, Amy Strauss, Deb Erie, Marilyn Verbits and John Greenstine.

How can I help?

SAC screens "In Search of Israeli Cuisine" for Gefilte Flicks on November 12th

20 members gathered in the sanctuary for a showing of the movie "In Search of Israeli Cuisine" on Saturday night, November 12th, with another group joining on ZOOM for the after-film discussion. Rabbi Helen Plotkin and Rabbi Nathan Martin led the assembled in observance of Havdalah, and Rabbi Helen led the chat about the movie, which featured famous Philadelphia restauranteur Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Laser Wolf, and many others) as he toured Israel, speaking to chefs and cultural historians about the diverse roots of these dishes; many from Palestinian and other local and ancient traditions, as well as Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish kitchens. Our discussion touched on many interesting topics, including the differences in how these new food trends are held in Israel, between secular and Orthodox Jews, as well as the religious differences between "Jewish" foods and "Israeli" foods. 

Pamela Rainey Lawler guest speaker at October 21st Tikkun Olam Shabbat

Ms. Lawler, the founder of Philabundance, the pre-eminent agency confronting hunger and food insecurity in Philadelphia, spoke during the Friday night, October 21st Tikkun Olam Shabbat. She discussed how she founded Philabundance, as well as past, current and future trends in hunger and our responses to it. 



Honey for the High Holidays Success

Our Honey Sale ended with 437 bottles sold.  The campaign, in which we partner with the noted Jewish charity ORT, featured the same delicious, kosher honey as we've enjoyed each year. The Social Action Committee will be donating nearly $750 to World Central Kitchen, feeding hungry people in crisis areas around the world, and the same to the Foundation for Delaware County, providing leadership and support to groups doing vital work in our community, as well as nearly $500 to the Beth Israel general fund. 

Concert to Benefit Ukraine Raises Critical Funds for Ukraine Refugees

The Arioso String Quartet and mezzo soprano Tatyana Smolen, along with the Beth Israel Music Appreciation Society and other performers, played a free benefit concert at Beth Israel on May 29th to raise needed relief funds for Ukrainian refugees, through HIAS. 100 people from the community joined us in the BI sanctuary for the live performance, and 94 people viewed it on Facebook. Dozens of donations were received, totaling over $3500. The concert was organized by Beth Israel member Carol Briselli and SAC chairperson John Greenstine, with the help of many Beth Israel members. The performances featured a range of classical and European folk music. A link to the video of the concert can be viewed on the Beth Israel YouTube site. Donations to HIAS through the Beth Israel Fund for Social Action can still be made by scanning the QR code or clicking the donation link below

Scan this QR code or Click Here to Donate to The Concert for Ukraine

Click Here to View the Concert Program with Information About the Performers and the Music!

Click Here to view the Concert on the Beth Israel YouTube site. 

2022 Purim Food Drive  Benefits the Media Food Bank--Wow!

Beth Israel Social Action Committee asked for donations of non-perishable food for the Media Food Bank, and the congregation came through with enough groceries to completely fill several cars. Committee organizer Ala Hamilton Day was instrumental in communicating the needs to the congregation, including up-to-the-minute "most needed" lists of items from the Food Bank. Paul Mickle of the Food Bank (seen on the right side of the picture) calls Ala one of his "most capable and determined" local advocates.

How can I help?

Ukrainian Support Begins

The committee is also beginning a cooperative initiative with the Food Bank to help a local Ukrainian household, including recent refugees from the war, by cooking and delivering meals to their home. More action to address the Ukrainian crisis is anticipated. 

A Better Start for Babies Exceeds all Expectations

Dr. Gary DavisOur Social Action Committee set a goal of 50 bags of much-needed items for new moms and their infants cared for at ChesPenn, a Federally Qualified Health Care clinic in Chester. This was an increase from last year's inaugural ABSB program that put together 30 bags. This year, the community raised enough diapers, creams, bottles, thermometers, clothes, hats and more to give 72 bags. 

The A Better Start for Babies project, created by our committee, is a response to the great need of so many mothers cared for by ChesPenn. Many have no resources, often no family to support them. The list of items was developed with input from the pediatricians at ChesPenn, who see the needs every day. Each bag has a monetary value of approximately $100.

On December 14, 2021, ABSB team members Carol Briselli, Judy Kinman and John Greenstine delivered the bags to ChesPenn. Other SAC team members included Julie Mayer and Susan Klein. They were assisted by ChesPenn President and CEO Dr. Gary Davis and Tamara Fox, Director of Organizational Development, and Bridget Van Sant, Community Engagement Coordinator.  

Sponsoring visit to the Barnes Foundation for Chester Eastside's Camp Phoenix 

The Social Action committee sponsored the July 9th 2021 field trip for the Chester Eastside, Inc. “Camp Phoenix” program. Kathryn Redd, the Education Director of CEI, reported: “We spent 3.5 hours, including having lunch on the grounds, at the museum. We broke into groups and toured all 3 floors. There were 35 children, 10 staff members, and 3 parents from CEI's Parent Association on the trip. The children who were members of the virtual Art Club were very excited to share their knowledge of impressionist art versus realism with the parents and fellow campers. They were fascinated to view the actual works of the impressionist artists we studied, Monet, Van Gough, Renoir, etc., and share with the group some facts they remembered from our art club sessions. There were expert guides accompanying certain individuals. I encouraged the group to listen to the information the guides were imparting to these individuals. We listened and learned things about the artist, their work, and how their work was received by their contemporaries. In short, we eavesdropped and commented to each other about the information. 

“During lunch the counselors, the staff, and I engaged the children in a discussion about their thoughts about the art they had viewed, the style of painting they liked best, and the name/names of the artist they remembered. Many of the older children returned to the museum after lunch while the younger children remained on the grounds to run and play. It was a great day of wonder and learning and a new experience for most of the campers.”

2021 High Holidays Food Drive 

We had a massive collection of food for the Media Food Bank for the High Holidays, coordinating with the Jewish Federation's Mitzvah Pantry. Over 170 bags of much needed groceries were delivered!

Purim 2021 Food Drive a Massive Success

Ala Hamilton Day wrote to the congregation "As the snow came down today, I was smiling.  I was thinking of a child enjoying a mug of hot chocolate or a man savoring a cup of chili.  These were just two of the items among the many, many bags, cartons and boxes delivered today, as the snowflakes fell, to the Media Food Bank.  For those who like numbers, across two collection dates and deliveries, there were nearly 150 bags, some of canvas, some Trader Joe's bags, and some doubled plastic bags. There were also a number of boxes, the kind that you get when picking up a large order at Costco.

"The Federation assigns each bag a weight of 13 pounds, which would mean that the members of BI gathered nearly a ton of high-quality food items such as peanut butter, hearty soups, canned fish and chicken, coffee, along with cleaning products, personal care items, and even toilet paper.

"As Paul Mickle (he's the one on the right) and his willing assistant Dale brought out shopping cart after shopping cart, Peter and I kept filling them up, load after load, and Carol Briselli took a car load, too.  Thank you all who helped make this Sunday's effort a great success!"

How can I help?

2021 MLK Day Knitting

The Mad Hatters knitting group, led by Judy Kinman, Lynn Cashell and Elaine Wasekanes, hosted an hour‐long ZOOM knitting session on Monday, January 18. Over 17 people gathered on ZOOM to knit, crochet, and otherwise participate in the group session. The highlight of the event was our guests: Emalie Clamage, volunteer and community engagement manager for Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS), and Margie Rosenberg, leader of Knitting with a Mission. Emalie described the clothing initiative called Our Closet (see, which collects used clothing for those in need. In non‐COVID times, pop‐up shops are held throughout the area, where clothing is available free of charge. A system is in place currently to deliver clothing to those in need.

Winter Coat Drive

Many thanks to everyone at BI who cleaned out their closets again this year, to donate warm clothes and coats to people in need. Jake Haber organized
the event, in conjunction with the Social Action Committee. Many families dropped off coats when they came to BI to pick up their Hanukkah bags, and
others made arrangements with Jake to drop off or have him pick up at their homes. All in all, we collected and sorted over 200 items, which we donated to Jewish Family and Children Services. The JFCS puts together custom packages for families in need.

A Better Start for Babies

In November 2020, Beth Israel Social Action launched a successful new project to raise badly needed essentials for newborns and moms who receive medical and natal care at ChesPenn, a Federal Qualified Health Care Provider.

Led by committee member Judy Kinman, the BI community raised 30 complete sets of baby clothes, hats, diapers, wipes, creams, bottles and other essentials for delivery to families served by the Chester clinic location, where it was received by Gary Davis, CEO and president, and Tamara Fox, director of organizational development of ChesPenn.  

2020 Food Service Updates

The Social Action Committee continues its Food Service programs at the Life Center shelter in Upper Darby and elsewhere during the pandemic. Lynn Cashell and John Greenstine have organized dinners for the shelter residents, now restricted to 30 individuals, at both the shelter and at local hotels where the residents were forced to relocate during the summer. The McIntosh Inn parking lot was the site of the May food service.

Many BI members continue to cook and deliver food to the synagogue during the pandemic, where it is loaded into waiting cars and delivered. This group gathered food for delivery in June, 2020.

Lynn Cashell shows the bounty of food taken to the shelter in November, 2020. 

Passover and High Holidays Food Drives

The committee continued its longstanding efforts to assist the hungry in Delaware County with its food drives to benefit the Media Food Bank. Under the leadership of committee member Ala Hamilton Day, and in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia's Mitzvah Pantry, the committee raised thousands of dollars worth of desperately-needed food from BI members in 2020 during Passover and the High Holidays. 

How can I help?

MLK Day of Service 2020

It was very cold outside but was toasty warm inside our Sanctuary as about 20 Mad Hatters of all ages gathered to knit Hats for Hope. Led by Judy Kinman and Elaine Wasekanes, those present created badly needed hats for such worthy organizations as Second Time Around, Chester Eastside and City Team. Members of the Rosh Chodesh group also readied the contents of our Shalach Manot bags. Look for the results of their labors after March 8 and be sure to order your Shalach Manot bags soonest. T‐shirts, refreshments and good conversation were the added benefit for those who came who included (but were not limited to), Ala Hamilton Day (who picked up t‐shirts), Wendy Waterston, Merdie Gilmore (who, once again, took the “prize” for the most hats produced), Lynn Cashell, Amy Binder, Marilyn Verbits, Jane Laffend, Joyce Romoff, Candy Berlin, Robin Gordon Schauffler, Isabella and Hailey Rittman with father Kevin. Non‐members Mina and Luno also joined us. Special thanks to Alan Ross, who guarded our gates. Please come next year on MLK day but know that hats are welcome all year. Contact Judy Kinman and Elaine Wasekanes for more info and wool. 

Tikkun Olam Shabbat addresses "Lifers" and Justice Reform

Beth Israel Social Action and Rabbi Linda Potemken hosted a discussion of criminal justice and prison reform on Friday July 26th, 2019. Bobby Harris, a man who was sentenced to life in prison at age 15 without possibility of parole, and while incarcerated, dedicated himself to personal development, education and helping others spoke, along with Rick Lowe, former board member at Beth Israel and a volunteer with prisoners in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Harris was released from prison in 2017, following a Supreme Court decision that ruled mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole unconstitutional for juveniles. Since his release, Bobby has been a voice for criminal justice reform and is recognized as one of the most effective formerly incarcerated leaders in Philadelphia. Rick Lowe served as mayor of Swarthmore and later became a steady volunteer at Graterford/Phoenix maximum security prison in Montgomery County. For more than five years, he has worked closely with "lifers," those who are serving life sentences without the chance of parole. 

July 29 Food Service at the Shelter

We could not have done it without you! The Social Action Food Service at the Life Center of Delaware County was received with gratitude from our hungry clients. Many thanks to the crackerjack serving team of Joe Deutsch, Judy and Matt Saunders, Lynn Cashell, Marilyn Drukin, Leora Potemken-Tiffany, Rabbi Linda, John Greenstine, Elaine Feldman, and 3 students from St. Joseph’s University. Our Beth Israel community cooked up an incredible array of food: many kinds of chicken, salmon, meatloaf, pasta of every ilk, vegetables, salads, and desserts. We always appreciate the donations of fresh fruit from the 320 Market in Swarthmore, Larrye Loss donating 2 cases of apples and bananas, and Jane and Ken Laffend donating a variety of juices. Our next food service is on Monday, July 29, so begin saving those take out food containers. The clients truly appreciate having the extra food to take with them. We only need the rectangular or round plastic containers with tight fitting lids that are from restaurants. Please recycle your other containers. Remember to pick up foil pans in the closet across from the office for your next meal preparation. 

Friend of the Community Award Recognizes League of Women Voters

The Social Action Committee of Congregation Beth Israel was proud to present our annual FRIEND OF THE COMMUNITY award to the League of Women Voters at Shabbat services on April 12, 2019. 

Learn More

Movie "The Band's Visit" shared with ZOOM at BI

Over 50 members and friends joined Rabbi Helen Plotkin on December 5th, 2020 to view the well-reviewed movie about an Egyptian ceremonial police band that makes a wrong turn and ends up in a dusty Israeli town. A great discussion followed about current politics, and could it happen with a happy ending today, as it did in the 2007 film. 

Movie "Invisibles""screened at BI

A crowd of 40 or so people, from BI and Ohev Shalom, joined Rabbi Helen Plotkin on March 2, 2019 to view the exciting story of four real-life survivors of the German efforts to clear all Jews from wartime Berlin. 

Martin Luther King Day at BI

On January 21st, Martin Luther King Day, the Social Action Committee hosted our Hats for Hope knitting project as well as creating finger puppets,  plus writing postcards to our local, state and federal politicians about timely issues. About 21 people participated; 4 of them were volunteers who found us on the site.

Movie "1945" Draws Big Crowd

The Social Action Committee's Gefilte Flicks movie night, featuring the film "1945," drew a large crowd to BI on Saturday, October 13. The film was a revealing portrait of post-war Hungarians struggling to confront their complicity in the Holocaust and their role, and guilt, in expropriating Jewish property after their neighbors and friends were rounded up and murdered. Rabbi Helen Plotkin led a thoughtful discussion afterwards, with many voices in the audience sharing their experiences of traveling to Eastern Europe and finding people still unwilling or unable to come to terms with the past. 

How can I help?

Siddurim for Prisoner Outreach

With the support of the Social Action Committee, Judy Kinman and the Beth Israel Library Committee shipped several boxes of siddurim and other Jewish books to the Beth Tikvah Jewish Prisoner Outreach, “Serving Jewish Inmates & Their Loved Ones for Over 30 Years.” More of the library’s extra books were just sent by Judy and Rabbi Nathan Martin. Sid Kleiner, the organization’s president, responded with the following note:

"A Good Day to You, Judy, & to All at Congregation Beth Israel,  As you promised, three cartons of print Judaica just arrived here. A quick glance at some of the contents reveals that this is the sort of material our spiritually thirsty brethren will devour with zeal and zest. On behalf of the hundreds of isolated Jewish souls we serve I thank you ever so much for your much valued and highly appreciated donation. Wishing one and all a hearty Shanah Tovah, Sid Kleiner"

Honey Sale a Success!

The Social  Action Committee sold over 300 bottles of honey for Rosh Hashanah, a great success. Thanks to everyone for their generous gift-giving. All sales benefit our Social Action programs, including our homeless shelter food service meals and our engagement in educational programs for the children of the Chester Eastside, Inc. project. 

Food Service October 2018
On Monday, October 29, 8 members of our community, plus 2 special guests, and 5 students from  St. Joseph’s University served an amazing array of food to the clients at the Life Center of Eastern Delaware County. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we served all sorts of chicken, salmon, roast beef, tuna casserole, chili, vegetables, many types of pasta, green and pasta salads, hard boiled eggs, plus desserts. We added some Halloween treat bags to the delight of the clients. Due to some new regulations at the center, we had to speed up our serving process and could not leave any food behind as we had done in the past. No problem for our resourceful crew and great community!  We had many take out containers to fill with food and offer to the clients. They were so appreciative of our thoughtfulness. Our serving crew included members Lynn Cashell, John Greenstine, Joe Deutsch, Marc Samet,  Jonah Horwitz, Theresa Citrenbaum, and Rabbi Linda and Leora Potemken Tiffany. Our guests, Matt and Judy Saunders, rent us the van and have become regulars at our services. A special shout out to Elaine Feldman, who organized and schlepped food, and also cleaned our kitchen, as we prepared the van to take to the food service.  Our next Food Service is December 31, 2018--New Year's Eve! Please contact John Greenstine (610) 891-0806 to volunteer to cook, serve or donate!
Summer visit of Chester Eastside to Franklin Institute

On July 27th, 2018 the Social Action Committee of BI sponsored another visit of the kids from Chester Eastside to the Franklin Institute. All told there were 50 kids and chaperones in attendance. Louis Friedler, Elaine Wasekanes and Stu Pittel were there to represent the SAC. On arrival the kids were met by Dr Darryl Williams, the new Senior Vice President of Science and Education, who spoke to them about science and about the Institute. The kids then split into groups, some going to see the Brain Exhibit and others to see the Heart.  All then met for lunch after a couple of hours, and then went back to the exhibits.  Overall the kids seemed to have a fabulous time.

Holidays Visit by Chester Eastside to Franklin Institute

On December 28, Beth Israel Social Action Committee hosted another group of students from Chester Eastside's after-school program to visit the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Stu Pittel arranged sponsorship for the 27 children and chaperones to enjoy the fun and educational activities, including the 3-D movie "Secret Ocean," after which they met chief astronomer Derek Pitts for a lively discussion about what scientists do (they ask questions about the world around them) and how they become scientists (in Pitts' case, by being unceasingly curious, graduating college, and working at the institute, doing research, directing the planetarium and contributing to the institute's overall educational efforts). The Social Action team included John Greenstine and Elaine Wasekanes (a veteran teacher and dynamic "Anatomy Simon Says" leader--"Simon Says, put your hands on your deltoids!") On a very frosty day in Philadelphia, science, exploration, and the nature of the world around us were foremost on the minds of some very engaged local students, thanks in large part to the contributions made to SAC by our generous congregation.  

2018 High Holidays Food Drive

 A week after the holidays, the remaining orange Federation canvas bags that were full of non-perishable foodstuffs from the foyer were taken to the Media Food Bank. Dan Griffin, the Food Bank volunteer pictured here, weighed in the donations at 104 pounds. Combined with the 1,121 pounds previously delivered, this means that Congregation Beth Israel of Media, in coordination with the Federation's High Holiday Food Drive, provided a total of 1,225 pounds of much-needed supplies to our local food pantry. The hungry children, their parents, our friends, and our neighbors, all thank you.  

Congregation Beth Israel’s Ongoing Fight Against Hunger

As we join together in faith and fun this year we also remember those who are without food and struggling in our community, through our regular meals program at the Upper Darby Life Center, and when our community gathers, by providing critical food donations to the Media Food Bank.  Please consider buying highly valued items like infant formula or canned fish or meat. These items are a welcome supplement to the boxes of cereal or pasta. BI’s Social Action Committee, during all of our wonderful events, will gather and deliver your donations to the Media Food Bank. Here are some notes on our partner providers: 
Media Food Bank: The Food Bank serves 75-100 families each week.  It’s open every Thursday 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM and 2nd and 4th Saturdays 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. (484) 442-0033,

Philabundance, a prime local resource for hunger relief, has this “Top Ten list of Most Needed Items.” 

You may also choose to make a donation to MAZON, the “Jewish Response to Hunger.” Envelopes for donations to MAZON, which are located in the foyer, will be stapled to the bags which are made available for your use.  Or, make your donations in one of those many canvas bags that have been multiplying in your closets! (Click on the image to view the full-size version)

Life Center Shelter at 63rd and Market Street

Recommended Donations List for the Life Center April 2017

There are 36 men and 14 women at the shelter.

Toiletries needed Non-Toiletries Needed

Full or sample size shampoo and conditioner

toilet paper

Toothbrushes and toothpaste full or sample size

Manicure sets

Disposable razors, shaving cream


Full or sample size body lotions, moisturizers


Feminine hygiene products

Full or sample size bath soap, body wash

new or slightly worn single bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets



new or gently worn towels, wash cloths

Please do not donate personal wipes, as they clog the plumbing if flushed. Thank you.

For health reasons, we are no longer accepting clothing donations, except new items.  We can provide a list of places where you can donate. 

Cleaning Supplies

Kitchen Items

Office Products

paper towels   

Breakfast bars


Liquid bleach


Copy Paper

Powdered laundry detergent

Coffee, creamer, sugar

Paper Clips

Dryer sheets

Disposable bowls, napkins, spoons

Tape, Staples, Binders

Liquid cleaners like Ajax and Pine Sol


Almost anything else!

Rubber gloves for cleaning



Dish towels



Scrubbing cloths



Dish detergent






Large donations brought directly to the shelter should come in Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9AM – 2PM. Please fill out an In-kind Donation Form at desk. Questions regarding donations, call (610) 734-5770. 

"Tips for a Healthy Home" presentation 

Nearly two dozen BI members learned about how to protect their homes--and had a tasty catered breakfast--on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017. We learned about our exposure to different chemicals, carcinogens, and toxins on a daily basis as well as what we can do to avoid them. Carol Butler of the Pennsylvania Resources Council led the talk, giving everyone a hands-on approach to using non-toxic and inexpensive alternatives for our homes. 

December 2016 visit to Franklin Institute by Chester Eastside

In December the Chester Eastside After School Program visited the Franklin Institute under the auspices of the Social Action Committee. Stuart Pittel organized the visit, the fifth such trip, through his association with the Institute. Elaine Wasekanes, a member of SAC, her son Eddie and committee chair Carol Briselli participated in the visit, serving as chaperones for a tour of the Institute. A bus funded by SAC transported the group to the Institute. Stu Pittel provided some brief welcoming remarks on behalf of the Social Action Committee and Beth Israel. The group was also able to see the sought-after "Jurassic World" exhibit. 

High Holidays Food Drive a Success

Paul Mickle, of the Media Food Bank, helped Ala Day and her husband Peter Bernstein unload 102 Trader Joe's bags of high-quality food, as well as one box of Cup-of-Soup, one case of beans, and one box of diapers, as well as several canvas bags, gathered in this year's High Holiday Food Drive. This is a significant increase from last year, when 91 bags and three boxes were delivered. During this time of year, according to Mickle, the need for food is high and, in late August, the Media Food Bank welcomed 114 families. The stated aim is to provide each family with sufficient food for five days, and that number was the highest weekly number since last December. 

After the delivery, this was received: "Thank you Ala and all the wonderful people at your synagogue for the help. Before the arrival of your donations, our shelves were nearly bare. Last evening we saw 53 families and were able to provide in a generous manner. Blessings to all.  Bonnie Scarborough." Thank you to Trader Joe's of Media for providing the bags and thank you to the members of Congregation Beth Israel for your wonderful outpouring of critically needed food. Said Ala, "this is what makes our congregation a special place." 

On our lawn: The T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost 

The starkly powerful "Tee-Shirt Memorial to Lives Lost to Gun Violence" completed its two-week residence on the front lawn of  Beth Israel on November 13th, 2016. The Social Action Committee thanks everyone who participated in its installation, dedication and return to Heeding God's Call. May we take strength from this symbol of loss to pursue all avenues of persuasion and legislation to reduce the terrible toll of gun violence in America.  

What can you as a BI member do to help?

Participate in preparing meals and/or serving at our next food service

Watch for congregational emails about how you can provide and/or serve meals to the needy. As Jews and members of a Jewish community, we are obliged to help those in need, to help heal the world in some way, however small. Participating in food service speaks to that obligation.

Remember the Hungry

SAC continues to collect non-perishable food for local food pantries. Major food collections take place in concert with Yom Kippur and Passover. Watch the Israelight and your email for notices of our food drives through the year.

Join the Social Action Committee

Please join us in our efforts to help heal the world—tikkun olam. You are welcome to attend our meetings, which take place monthly. For more information, e-mail John Greenstine.

E-mail SAC chairperson John Greenstine

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Fri, June 21 2024 15 Sivan 5784