Historically, Solel is known as a pathfinder congregation in many areas but — most of all — around Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) through acts of social justice and social activism. Most of us know that Martin Luther King actually visited Congregation Solel in 1966 and spoke in our sanctuary. In his inspiring remarks on Rosh Hashanah eve, Rabbi Moffic encouraged us, particularly given our troubling times, to return to our roots and continue to engage in acts of Tikkun Olam. In fact, the social justice panel on Yom Kippur morning attested to the passion of Solelites around social justice and social action. If you are interested in working with others on an initiative for the common good, check out our social justice opportunities. If rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in a project with immediate tangible results is more your thing, check out our social action projects.

Indeed, many of us have participated in differenttikkun olam activities throughout the years. But, most of us are not all that familiar with the many opportunities available at Solel right now. Starting this month, with the celebration of our 60 years when we look ahead to the future, we will be giving you more information about our social justice/social action activities each month in the Pathfinder. Please know that this is not an all-inclusive list. In fact, if you are involved in an initiative that you think might be appealing to others in our community, please let me (Alice Kohn, VP of Social Justice — alicenkohn@gmail.com) know. Watch this space!

There are three basic categories in which you can get involved:

  1. Engaging as a Family through Lev Solel. This year, we will be holding a Mitzvah Fair on Sunday, January 14 for all of Lev Solel. You and your family (children of all ages) will have many opportunities to plug into social action activities. In the past, those have ranged from packing school supplies for RefugeeONE to making pet toys for Orphans of the Storm and much more. Contact Liz Cohen (elizabeth_cohen@gmail.com), Nicole Cohen (nicolepritash@yahoo.com), or Lou Hellebusch (Hellebusch@gmail.com) for more information.
  2. Ongoing Social Action Projects. We have many ongoing projects and connections you can plug into. These are either sponsored or supported by Solel. Currently, these include:
    • Blood Drive— Solel holds two annual congregational blood drives — an undertaking that involves dozens of volunteers who collaborate with LifeSource to transform Solel into a blood donation center. If you would like to volunteer, contact (Diane Resnick at DNRPHD@gmail.com or Julie Bringas at jbringas@sbcglobal.net. Solel has broken Lake County’s record for number of donations many times.
    • Hands of Peace— brings together Palestinian, Israeli, and American teens each summer for 18 days of dialogue about the conflict and relationship building. To learn more, contact Wendy Rhodes (wendyrhodes53@gmail.com).
    • HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)—has been supporting immigrants and refugees since 1881. There are many ways to volunteer. If you are interested, contact Alan Greene (aig0220@comcast.net).
    • Highland Park/Highwood Legal Aid Clinic. This not-for-profit clinic provides pro bono legal services (oftentimes around immigration/refugee and/or domestic violence issues) to low income individuals who live or work in Highland Park or Highwood. For more information, contact Susan Shulman (sshulman@hphlegalaid.org).
    • M.A.S.K.— (Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killing). This group is led by Tamar Manasseh, a mother from the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago who is training for the rabbinate. She spoke at Solel last April. The group organizes events and provides support for children in the neighborhood so that they see there is an alternative to violence. Several Solelites attended a Sukkot gathering on October 8. To learn more, contact Sharon Stein (sstein24@gmail.com) or Laura Frisch (ljfrisch@sbcglobal.net or at Lev Solel on Sunday mornings or Tuesday evenings).
    • Waukegan to College. This group offers congregants an opportunity to work with Waukegan High School students in preparation for their college applications. To learn more, contact Robin Shapiro (robinshapiro@tbaworldhealth.com).

3. Ongoing Social Justice Initiatives. In addition to social action project work, we have other social justice activism opportunities to plug into, make your voice   heard by attending protests and other events, move legislators’ agendas, and so forth:

  • Just Congregations. This Solel group identifies social justice priorities and acts on them as a community — oftentimes in conjunction with the interfaith group Lake County United — using community organizing principles. For more information, contact Meta Levin (meta.levin@comcast.net) or Sharon Stein (sstein24@gmail.com ).
  • Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. This not-for-profit group was created to demand action from legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms. For more information, contact Caryn Fliegler (cfliegler@gmail.com).
  • Reform IL. This is an “under construction” satellite operation of the Religious Action Center (the Reform Movement’s social justice lobbying group located in Washington, DC). Several dozen Chicago area congregations are bonding together to focus on Racial Injustice and Immigration/Refugee issues in our state. Solel has the opportunity to participate and we are exploring this now. For more information on the Religious Action Center, contact Andy or Rich Amend (andyamend@me.com or richard.amend@focuspg.com). For more information on Reform IL, contact Wendy Rhodes wendyrhodes53@gmail.com.

Who to contact
The possibilities to get involved or plugged into social justice/action Solel are overwhelming. Feel free to contact Alice Kohn (VP/Social Justice— (alicenkohn@gmail.com) and she can point you in the right direction.

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