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Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Shabbat Saturday, Cyber Monday, and #GivingTuesday

November 27, 2015

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Shabbat Saturday, Cyber Monday, and #GivingTuesday

Last week, we looked at the tradition of Tzedakah (Charity) and the Sabbath. (To reread last week’s Shabbat Message, CLICK HERE) Thanksgiving and Shabbat a day later, give us a chance to look at ourselves. Do we really take the opportunity to really think about being thankful? We have come a long way since the pioneering days of early America. We are comfortable. We spend Thanksgiving sharing the blessings of so much food, so much family, and so much friendship. We have so much to eat on Thanksgiving (maybe even too much to eat), and so much to be thankful for. It’s odd that Thanksgiving is surrounded by so much excess: Black Friday has become a festival of spending. Yes – there are bargains, but the overall amount of consumer money spent on this day is overwhelming. Cyber Monday, also, feeds into the buying frenzy of what has become a traditional fixture of Thanksgiving weekend. Maybe the contrast of the commercial part of this weekend with the peaceful noncommercial spirit of Shabbat can help us refocus on those in need.

In contrast to the commercial nature of the weekend, a growing movement has designated next Tuesday as #GivingTuesday, encouraging people to be generous with time, money, and expertise to celebrate philanthropy. Create change, and make the world a better place. We at the JCC have joined in this amazing initiative to support our Jewish Community Pantry on the West Side of Milwaukee, which is a project of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. It is a crisis pantry giving people, non-Jews and Jews alike, food to help sustain their families in these difficult times. Last year we served more than 11,000 families. 11,000. This number is 28% more than we served last year.  42% of those people served are children... and the numbers are growing.

According to Dorene Paley, the Director of the Jewish Community Pantry, “I’m proud of this program – it’s so important because it’s serving at risk people living far below the poverty line. Every time I meet people face to face, and they tell me their stories. So many are hardworking people who can barely pay their rent and have nothing left to feed their families. I talk to grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren whose parents are away or who can’t take care of their own children. So many families are living together because they can’t all sustain living quarters. I think, as a grandmother, what would I do if it was me? If, suddenly, I found myself on the other side of the desk needing help with the bare necessities of food, medicine, or employment. It could be me. We look at everyone as we look at ourselves, and we treat everyone with respect. We are making a difference in people’s lives. We are living our Jewish Values of feeding the hungry and uplifting the poor instead of just reading about them.”

We are proud that the JCC sustains this critical initiative, with 70 volunteers, and with donations of time, money and food.

For more information about the Pantry, CLICK HERE.

For more information about #GivingTuesday and to make a donation, CLICK HERE.

Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)