November 22, 2014   29 Cheshvan 5775
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Global Mitzvah Project
Mar. 29, 2013
Temple Emanuel's Global Mitzvah Project plans and conducts fund-raising, educational and global advocacy activities to inspire active involvement of congregants in tikkun olam.

Community Contact Information:
Temple Emanuel
Kensington, Maryland
http://www.templeemanuelmd.org


Goals:
- Enhance the congregation's commitment, education and actions to fulfill the Jewish value of tikkun olam.
- Provide tangible help to poor, at risk, and underprivileged communities, families and children in developing regions of the world.
- Establish working alliances with effective, reputable international non-governmental organizations to achieve global mitzvah objectives.

Overview:
The GMP plans and conducts fund-raising, educational and global advocacy activities to inspire active involvement of Temple Emanuel in tikkun olam. In partnership with organizations like Plan USA, American Jewish World Service, Engineers Without Borders, and Kiva, the GMP has pinpointed critical areas around the world and raised funds to improve health, safety, food security, and self-determination for women and children in these countries.

Preparation:
In November, 2007, Temple Emanuel's Rabbi offered a new vision of social action, that of a Global Mitzvah Project Team (GMP) which could provide leadership to fulfill the Jewish value of tikkun olam. An invitation to attend an exploratory meeting was sent to fifty active members of the congregation, after which twelve volunteered to serve on the initial team (GMT). The team established clear criteria for selecting a global project and developed a Mini-Project Proposal format. Subsequently, the team chose the Guatemala Newborn and Maternal Health Program as the first project, in partnership with highly regarded Plan USA/International. It was also decided to introduce the GMP to the full congregation at a Global Mitzvah Shabbat Service and to publicize the project through the Temple website, listserv, Brotherhood, Women of Reform Judaism and Temple religious school.

Project Implementation:
Fund-raising activities have been regularly scheduled from the beginning of the project and are expected to continue, resulting in a predictable amount of at least $ 2,500-3,000 per year. Many Temple members have volunteered to participate in Global Mitzvah activities through a variety of roles such as researching prospective mini-projects to support; assisting in preparation of educational newsletter articles; helping to publicize events by designing digital displays and posters, gathering photographs and making announcements; serving as readers and presenters at Global Mitzvah Shabbats; recruiting friends and havurah members to attend events; speaking to classes in the religious school about the project; creating and printing concert programs; and facilitating student-led tzedakah projects. In addition, a committed and creative group of members form the GMT regularly attend 1 ½ hour Sunday morning meetings each month from September to June.

The GMP is a special project created to extend Temple Emanuel's Reform Judaism mission to teach, reinforce and advance Jewish values in contemporary society. The GMT is responsible for developing and implementing the project goals, in consultation with Temple Emanuel's Rabbi. Any decisions that require changes or additions to current Temple procedures or regulations needs to be approved by the Board of Trustees. The GMT is comprised of adults and religious school volunteers from the 6th - 8th grades, and currently consists of fourteen adults and two students.

The GMP has made it a priority to inform and educate the Temple Emanuel community about the purpose, initiatives and impacts of its work for tikkun olam. Global Mitzvah Shabbat Services have also been an important means of educational programming. These semiannual services have included inspiring guest speakers engaged in social action to overcome poverty and its ill effects.

The project has been careful to select international partners deemed to be highly accountable by Charity Navigator and easily accessible for pertinent information about their programs and organization. Plan USA, American Jewish World Service, Kiva, and Engineers Without Borders are each well regarded and provide excellent web sites and helpful written and visual materials. The Global Mitzvah Project provides annual progress reports to the temple community, as well as ongoing stories in Kol Kore about the various mini-projects and the people they serve.

Results:
The Global Mitzvah Project has made significant progress towards fulfilling our vision of a caring congregation "reaching out into the world to help with global poverty, global disease, global environmental concerns and social justice needs." GMP is helping "to teach our community that being a Jew means caring for needs around our world and making a difference in small ways." Like many synogogues, Temple Emanuel has a comprehensive, energetic program consisting of Adult Education classes, discussion groups, music and art workshops, torah study, lecture series, theatre group, Brotherhood, Women of Reform Judaism, community dinners, 14 different committees, an Early Childhood Education Program, Religious School (grades K-10), Confirmation class, and youth group.

The fact that the project has been able to make substantial progress on its goals is indicative of the congregation's genuine concern for social justice and equality. There is little doubt that the Global Mitzvah project can be replicated by other synogogues, providing that it has visionary leadership by the Rabbi, Board approval, full administrative support, and committed, open minded volunteers to form and work on the Global Mitzvah Team.

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