Gemilut Hasadim literally means “the giving of loving-kindness”, and is a fundamental social value in the everyday lives of Jews. Taking care of those in need in our community is at the heart of what it means to be a caring Jewish community. The Chesed Connection performs these “acts of loving kindness” confidentially for all congregants and was organized to reestablish the principles and practices of the former Bikkur Cholim Committee, which served the needs of the TBEMC community for many years.
The mitzvah of nichum aveilim, of comforting mourners, is considered in the Talmud to be one way for humans to fulfill the principle of “walking in God’s ways.” The mission of the Chesed Committee is to provide communal support and nechama (comfort) to members of the TBEMC community in the event of a birth or adoption, illness, death or other significant life change.
The Chesed Connection will, among other things, coordinate volunteers to visit nursing homes, shop and take care of tasks for those in need, prepare meals for those unable to care for themselves, call the homebound to check on their well being, support a Shiva house and other essential services. In addition to providing support, the Chesed Committee will be sponsoring Life Cycle educational programs during the year on topics such as the how and why of Brit Milah and Simcha Bat, paying Shiva calls and more.
The Chesed Connection focuses on Acts of Loving Kindness to help meet life challenges amongst our members. Our core committee works with the Rabbi, individual members, synagogue committees, and the synagogue staff to identify an individual or a community need, and organizesresponses. Sometimes, making a Chesed Connection takes a large coordinated effort, and for others, just a few moments.
To enable us to be able to address both large and small requests for a connection and reach a community that is dispersed throughout Union & Middlesex counties, we are expanding our presence and inviting you to join our NEW online community of volunteers: “TBEMC Chesed Connection at Lotsa Helping Hands.” Lotsa Helping Hands provides a secure, simpler way to communicate with our community and offer us a convenient solution to help coordinate volunteer assistance with tasks such as:
- meal preparation, grocery shopping
- arranging for rides to medical appointments
- getting mail, organizing and paying the bills
- dealing with insurance
- cleaning the house, laundry, dry cleaning
- walking the family dog, picking up prescriptions
- taking out the garbage and recycling, yard work
This new website makes the mitzvah of Chesed easy! To start receiving notices of ways that you can support Temple Beth El Mekor Chayim community, simply register. You will be the first to know when a baby is born, and have the inside information necessary to help those in need.
If you are expecting a child, having surgery or have an illness in the family and would benefit from a Chesed Connection – or if you know someone who would – contact us by email. It is so important to give others the opportunity to perform this mitzvah, so please let us lend a hand!
The Chesed Connection welcomes participation at its regular meetings where the community’s needs are assessed and plans developed. By joining our online community you will receive regular meeting notices. All inquiries and requests for assistance will be treated as confidential.
Chair, Chesed Connection
Do you know someone in our community who could a use Chesed Connection?
- A ride to synagogue?
- An occasional ride to a medical appointment?
- Help with light grocery shopping?
- Help with an occasional meal?
- A friendly telephone call?
- A home visit to help brighten their day?
- Are recovering at home or in a local nursing home and would like a friendly visit . . .
Are you interested in volunteering for a Chesed Connection?
There is no volunteer commitment too small: spend a few minutes a week reaching out by phone to members in need or devote an hour or more to helping our community in other ways. Chesed’s goal is to enlist enough volunteers to offer the following services:
- Home Visits – make home visits to people who are or have been ill, suffered a loss or are caregivers who need someone to talk to
- Hospital Visits – visit in hospitals, nursing homes or rehab facilities
- Bereavement – prepare shiva home, make shiva visits, comfort and support members during times of loss – this may require telephone calls and/or visits
- Drivers –drive to doctor or therapy appointments, to TBEMC on Shabbat
- Baby Connection – reach out to new moms and dads with support and information about Jewish rituals for newborns
- Phone Calls – reach out to people who need a “Chesed Connection”
- Meal Makers – prepare meals for those needing Chesed support in the TBEMC kitchens
- Shoppers – run errands for people who need short term assistance
- NOT SURE how you’d like to help? Simply provide us with your contact information and we’ll notify you by email when a Chesed Connection opportunity arises
If you are interested in volunteering please complete the volunteer questionnaire, available in the temple office or from the online the bulletin, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Temple Office.
Other Ways to Support the Chesed Connection
- If you are interested in making a monetary donation, providing goods or services please email us at email@example.com
- If you are interested in coordinating educational programs or community events on Chesed-related topics please contact us at John Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org
All services of the Chesed Connection are confidential.
Here are some of the programs at TBEMC that help our friends, neighbors and the community in need.
Here are some other worthy organizations in which we participate.
Central New Jersey Networking Group
Co-sponsored by TBEMC, The Jewish Federation of Central NJ, The JCC, and the YM-YWHA, The Central NJ Networking Group is a community resource for networking and job search.
A comprehensive resource for kidney donors and recipients
There are many ways that each of us can fulfill the mitzvah of Gemilut Chasadim:
Visiting the Sick (Bikkur Cholim)
Fulfilling this mitzvah involves tending to the spiritual needs of those who are ill as well as assuaging their physical ailments. Visits, prayers for healing, and other expressions of concern can help relieve the anguish and isolation felt by those who are ill. Traditional texts offer guidance on how to perform—but not overdo—this task.
Comforting Mourners (Nichum Avelim)
It is a major mitzvah to see to the burial of someone who dies, and communally healing the psychic wounds of death inflicted upon the mourners is the purpose of a highly elaborated set of rules and rituals. Jewish tradition mandates that one should provide mourners with their immediate needs (such as meals) and with unobtrusive companionship, interacting with them in a way that enables them to express their grief, whether in words or in silence.
Hospitality (Hakhnasat Orchim)
In the pre-modern world, without ubiquitous hotels and rapid transportation, wayfarers were often dependent on those whom they encountered en route. Jewish communities traditionally provided for Jews passing through their locales, whether they were indigent or simply in transit. These traditions of hospitality persist. Some rabbinic writings on law and ethics offer practical advice on how to be a low-impact, appreciative guest as well as how to be a gracious and generous host or hostess.
Jewish communal efforts on behalf of the poor extend beyond charitable giving (tzedakah) that reaches recipients in the form of money. People in need of food, shelter, or clothing are often provided with these directly, whether by individuals or by community institutions. Even more specialized needs, such as those of families marrying off a child, have often been provided for by Jews who took this on as their personal contribution to the needs of others.
The concept of “repairing the world”–the notion that the world itself is somehow disjointed, incomplete, and in need of reworking so that it will function as it was meant to function–has ancient roots, but it is primarily a product of certain schools of Kabbalah in the sixteenth century. Its fascinating history has culminated in a new, broader usage. Since the mid-20th century, it has come to be associated with modern social welfare efforts and even with a liberal agenda regarding social policy. Tikkun olam does not strictly fall into the category of gemilut hasadim, which usually refers to acts which help individuals rather than working towards larger societal change.