What does it mean to volunteer? How can we do it in more impactful, meaningful ways?
This weekend, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Manager Liya Rechtman spoke on a panel at Temple Rodef Shalom, in Falls Church, Virginia as part of a series titled “Social Justice and American Jews.” The panel centered on volunteerism, as well as opportunities to contribute to social justice causes that extend beyond volunteering at a soup kitchen or planting a community garden. Representatives from Virginia’s Jewish Community Relations Councils, HIAS, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and the National Council of Jewish Women, along with several others, joined COEJL on the panel.
Rechtman spoke about connecting members of the congregation with local organizing efforts, like Virginia’s Interfaith Power and Light and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. These local efforts are important ways to engage with local government, state legislatures, and national representatives. Writing letters to the editor, bringing in speakers to the community, and communicating with elected officials are critical avenues towards progress. Further, Rechtman recommended that all congregations and private homes consider installing solar panels if possible.
The event was held in Virginia and dealt with state-specific issues. However, the question of how to effectively volunteer is one with which we all grapple. If you’re interested in doing more in your state, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas!