Under new leadership, Temple Israel’s Caring Committee is broadening its reach to those in the community whose connection to the congregation has waned.
“Temple Israel, like many communities, has an aging population and we feel it is important to try to include them in life here at Temple, whether that means visiting residents of the Blumkin Home or hand-delivering honey cakes for the new year,” said Program Director Wendy Goldberg. “We want our older members to feel cared for and welcome, and the Caring Committee is doing a wonderful job of that.”
Led by Co-Chairs Joan Marcus and Teresa Eirenberg, the Caring Committee has a host of new initiatives in the works that they hope will strengthen ties within the Temple Israel community.
“We want it to be about people coming together, sharing their own stories [of loss or difficulty], connecting in that way, then reaching out and connecting with other people in the congregation,” Teresa Eirenberg said. “We want to build a community for Temple.”
In addition to the aforementioned Blumkin Home visits and honey cake deliveries, the Caring Committee is also planning to begin a regular phone call list, in which Temple Israel members and clergy would take the time to reach out and call not only the more elderly or infirmed members of the congregation, but anyone who is going through a difficult time, to hopefully let them know that they’re being thought of.
“We want to connect with people at home who don’t necessarily have an illness, but who would welcome that sort of thing,” Eirenberg said.
Eirenberg and Marcus were chosen to lead the Caring Committee after previous Chair Wendy Vann got a full time job and had to step down. They both have had experience with the committee’s outreach and wanted to give back to the community.
“I am so happy that Joan Marcus and Teresa Eirenberg have agreed to co-chair the Caring Committee,” said Board of Trustees President Sally Kaplan. “Joan is one of the most experienced and committed volunteers I know … when she volunteered for the job I was beyond pleased. … I have been wanting to get Teresa more involved at Temple for a long time and felt that because of her personal experiences and her kind, caring presence she would be perfect for the Caring Committee.”
One of the things the committee would like to do is create a database of people who can be used as resources for those in need, who may be undergoing a difficult time.
“All of those individuals are part of a community, part of a congregation, a living congregation, that needs to continue remembering who they are,” Rabbi Aryeh Azriel said. “I think it’s one of the most important goals of Temple Israel, to be able to continue providing the attention, the care, the warmth to members of the congregation … to be able to continue the connection.”
The Caring Committee is also planning to provide training for volunteers in order to teach them how to start a new relationship or provide proper language for those difficult conversations when a member is in need.
The committee also hopes to bolster its profile to help members know what resources Temple Israel can and cannot provide, and to provide a resource list of those options not available at Temple Israel.
“It should be a pretty neat thing,” Eirenberg said. “I’m excited to be involved. It allows me to meet and visit with a lot of people who I wouldn’t necessarily have met before.”
President Kaplan is overjoyed with the direction the Caring Committee is heading and is excited about the new initiatives.
“Temple Israel is very lucky to have these two women heading up such an important committee,” Kaplan said. “I hope anyone who is interested in getting involved in our caring outreach will call them and get connected.”