Beth Am Synagogue:
Connecting to Congregants & Community During COVID-19
      June 9, 2020
Dear Beth Am Family and Friends,

For the past two weeks, public attention has expanded from the COVID-19 pandemic to the violence and racism reflected in the murder of George Floyd and the public demonstrations of the past week. Beth Am has released a Statement on Racial Justice , saying in part, “Black lives matter. Beth Am condemns police brutality, racist policing, systemic racism, and injustice in our society.” The statement is now linked from the home page of Beth Am’s website . Beth Am is also ordering a “Black Lives Matter” banner that will be displayed outside the synagogue

Opposing the inequitable treatment of African Americans has always been at the core of the work of both InForOf, Inc. (IFO) and the Social Action Committee (SAC). But the eradication of racism will not occur unless a majority of white Americans internalize that goal and take steps to make it happen. IFO and SAC want everyone to learn about systemic racism and to support organizations, on the local and national level, that are working hard to challenge racism and its impact.

At the same time, we also hope you will continue to volunteer or make a gift (even if you have done so before) to the community organizations mentioned below. Addressing the pandemic needs of our African American community members is also a way of fighting racism. This week we call specific attention to the St. Francis’ request for volunteers to help with Beth Am’s third Food Giveaway, this time on Friday, June 12 .

We thank you again for considering these requests and for your support to date. Listening has been a cornerstone of our work and your feedback to this newsletter or questions or concerns you may have, will be welcomed. Please address them to either Ilana Ginsburg ( ilana.ginsburg@gmail.com ), Jackie Oldham ( jacquelyn.oldham@verizon.net ), Evan Serpick ( serpick@gmail.com ), or Joyce Keating ( joyceskeating@yahoo.com).  They will be shared.

Congregant to Congregant (C2C) ◊ Beth Am Social Action Committee (SAC) ◊ InForOf Inc. (IFO)
LEARN ABOUT RACISM & ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:

  • IFO Book Club: With recent events weighing on many of our hearts, you are invited to join a discussion (via Zoom) on Sunday, June 14 at 10:30 am to process together. No homework is required, but you are welcome to watch this video of activists and friends in Minnesota speaking out in response to the death of George Floyd for something to chew on. For more information, contact Ilana Ginsburg.

  • Additional Reading Suggestions: Everyone’s Place, a Black-owned bookstore at 1356 North Ave., near Beth Am, has posted its “Top Picks for Education on Racism in America”. We encourage folks to call ahead, (410) 728-0877, and order books for curbside pick-up.

  • Citizens Policing Project:  Join Beth Am's Social Action Committee and IFO (working to strengthen the relationship between the Beth Am and Reservoir Hill communities) in signing on to the Citizens Policing Project Commitment to Baltimore, which commits to prioritizing Racial Equity in the treatment of Black and Brown people, and diligently pursues and advocates for the necessary legislative and structural changes needed to move our City forward.

  • Joint Meeting of IFO and Social Action Committee: IFO and the Social Action Committee will hold a joint meeting by Zoom on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 7 pm. Use this link to join the meeting. We will discuss specific actions to support the message of “Black Lives Matter.” If you are not on the Social Action Committee Google Group and would like to join to get updates on meetings and developments, email Evan Serpick.
 
Anti-Racism Resources : Here are a few resources we’d like to share:




VOLUNTEER
  • Congregant to Congregant (C2C): Make calls to check-in with Beth Am members to provide connection and support. To volunteer, call or email Joyce Keating at: (410) 358-5477 OR

  • Support Beth Am as a food distribution site: This Friday, June 12th, we are distributing free boxes of food from the Beth Am building. Evan Serpick for more information.

  • Help the St. Francis Neighborhood Center with grocery distribution: Torbin Green, SFNC’s Operations and Program Director, desperately needs volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick up and transport grocery boxes from St. Gabriel’s Church in Woodlawn to SFNC.  Volunteers can meet Torbin at 8 am at St. Francis or they can meet Torbin at 8:30 am at St. Gabriels Church in Woodlawn. Volunteers are also needed to unload boxes at 10 am at SFNC. If you want to help, text Torbin at (410) 493-1651.

  • Make cloth face masks for our neighbors: Citizens Policing Project (CPP) is seeking face masks to distribute in Central West Baltimore. JVC has offered t-shirt supplies for those able and committed to making masks with these materials. Contact Cindy Paradies via email or text, 410-804-2883 to contribute, or Judith Schagrin for a pattern and with questions about mask-making.

  • Join St. Francis Neighborhood Center and Jewish Volunteer Connection to create a cohort of current and emerging sewers to make masks for donation. Experienced sewers with their own machines are appreciated and new sewers are welcome – we are looking for funding to purchase machines and materials to support everyone’s participation. To learn more and express interest, please contact Ashley Pressman at apressman@associated.org.
 
  • Jewish Volunteer Connection’s COVID-19 Community Response: JVC volunteer opportunities include in-person (with safety considered), virtual and creating things at home (ex. casseroles, masks), and suggested donations. JVC is also going to support folks who want to create virtual “Parties with a Purpose” to support groups working on a COVID-related community need: https://jvcbaltimore.org/covid19/.
DONATE
  • Contribute and Help Spread the Word: Coronavirus Equity Campaign for Pulse Oximeters: Lower income communities, especially communities of color, are disproportionately suffering from COVID-19. Pulse oximeters are in high demand and short supply, many having been purchased by people of means. They are potentially life-saving devices in this pandemic. To donate or learn more please click here

  • No Boundaries Coalition’s “Central West Baltimore Buying Club”: This No Boundaries initiative provides access to fruits and vegetables, normally offered at their currently-closed “Fresh at the Market”, as well as other grocery items, household cleaning supplies, and prepared meals, delivered directly to their homes. Please contribute to the Fresh Feeding Fund to feed families in 21217. Email sache@noboundariescoalition.com with questions or if you have experience with buying club logistics.

  • Saint Francis Neighborhood Center Emergency Fund: SFNC supports 75 children and their families in Reservoir Hill and Penn North, all of whom live below the poverty line. SFNC’s most urgent need is the replenishment of its Emergency Fund, which offers direct support for their families’ most urgent needs, such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and utility bills. St. Francis leaders expect the strain on their families and need for financial support to continue for the foreseeable future. Contribute here: SFNC Emergency Fund.

  • Three great Black-led advocacy groups in Baltimore, the Job Opportunities Task Force, Out For Justice, and Baltimore Action Legal Team, are organizing a Juneteenth and Father’s Day Bail Out June 19 to 21. Click here for more information and contribute to this effort.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Click here to learn more.



  • Out for Justice - Baltimore-based, providing mutual aid for recently released individuals; indicate "MutualAid" in the donation notes.