Connecting through Storytelling: a Workshop Invitation

Our Avodah Social Action Group invites you to participate in a powerful workshop offered for our congregation by The Existence Project on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 from 6-8 pm. The project uses storytelling to connect housed and unhoused people: we will hear Serafina’s story as she shares her journey with us, and will witness her joy as she moves towards understanding and positive change. Participants in this workshop will leave with:

  • Understanding and compassion for the homeless experience
  • Baseline knowledge of what is working and what is not
  • An opportunity to reflect on what needs to change
  • A way forward for individuals and the group they represent to act

When supporting this workshop, Rabbi Harry wrote, “It is important for us to begin highlighting issues of local poverty…” Avodah believes this workshop can serve as a catalyst to looking more closely at the issues of poverty and homelessness. Please visit The Existence Project website to learn more.

Avodah would love to see you join us for this exceptional experience.  To RESERVE a spot*, email Jackie. An Eventbrite invitation to the workshop will be emailed to you.

*Please note that there are only 25 spaces available for this workshop.

CNOY! Avodah did it!

I am elated to let you know that our Avodah team raised $6942 for this year’s Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) campaign (more than double what we raised last year) and the third highest amount raised by the 58 Victoria teams. This impressive result is due to the outstanding enthusiasm exhibited by the team members every step of the way and the wonderful generosity of our 124 sponsors!  It was most gratifying to see the heartfelt, generous support of our congregation and community for Our Place, our neighbours down the street. And, as heartening as it was to see the money raised, equally gratifying was the joyful time we had doing this together. 

Here are some photos showing members of our Avodah team on our COVID-19 compliant, Coldest Night of the Year walk on February 20, 2021 in aid of Our Place, the  place of “hope and belonging” for so many in need in our city. Because of COVID-19, our team members couldn’t all walk together this year  but we were very much together in spirit!
With sincere thanks to those who contributed to making this important social action such a success and wonderful experience.
Penny Tennenhouse
Avodah CNOY Team Leader

Coldest Night of the Year: 2021

Saturday, February 20, 2021This year, the Coldest Night of the Year walk to raise money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger will be a covid-safe and family-friendly one. Our Avodah members will walk independently or in their own “approved by Bonnie” bubbles,  to raise money in support of Our Place. Don’t let this fundraiser succumb to COVID-19! 

If you  would like to support the Avodah initiative, please go to the Coldest Night of the Year website where you can donate to the Avodah team.  You are welcome to contact Penny Tennenhouse at pennyt@shaw.ca if you would like any further information. 

Avodah: Helping People during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Congregation Avodah.pngOver the last few extraordinary weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic created new hardships and special needs for homeless people, Avodah has been very active in providing much-needed  bottles of water, camping gear and new underwear to the street community in Victoria.

Fortunately, bottled water and camping gear will no longer be required now that homeless people are, thankfully, being moved into temporary accommodation in hotels.  However, the need for many services continues unabated to meet the huge challenges in supporting the most vulnerable in our community created by the pandemic.

Please consider donating to Avodah at this  time.  We will do our best to find opportunities to assist organizations with their valuable work in the field.

The synagogue office is closed but Zelda who is working from home can access the shul telephone messages. Send her an email or call 250 382 0615 and leave her a  message indicating that you wish to donate to Avodah and she will get back to you.

Todah rabah for your generosity,
Avodah Social Action Committee

 

Responding to Homelessness Pandemic Needs

Homelessness VictoriaUrgent Action needed: Spread compassion, Stop diseases. — You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line.

On a typical night about 1,500 people in the CRD are homeless. These people face special challenges during this pandemic. Homeless people tend to be vulnerable to infections due to the combination of daily stress, chronic diseases, and poor nutrition. They often lack basic hygiene resources like sinks and clean toilets, and opportunities to bathe and wear clean clothes. They are often in crowded conditions and share food and cigarettes. Crowded shelters are particularly risky environments.

Public health officials advise people exposed to or infected by contagious diseases to stay home and minimize contact with other people. Quarantines are difficult enough for people with stable homes and reliable incomes; they are virtually impossible for people who are homeless or living in crowded or unhealthy homes. If they do become infected, they will need to stay in hospitals, using scarce beds, adding stresses and costs to overburdened public health services. Everybody benefits if we can reduce the risks of infectious diseases to homeless service providers’ clients, staff and volunteers.

Homeless service providers are acting to reduce infection risks, including more frequent cleaning of their facilities and equipment, and providing information and support to their clients. Some are closing service altogether. These efforts reduce risks to clients, staff and volunteers, but leave critical gaps and will be inadequate if COVID-19 becomes established in our community. On March 18, Our Place closed down its drop-in space, computer lab, courtyard, hygiene, and clothing area but plans to continue operating its washroom facilities, transitional housing, shelter spaces, and providing three daily meals. Cool Aid is closing its dental clinic and community centre. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis.

You can help. Our homelessness service providers need more funding to respond to this crisis. Please donate generously to Avodah who will ensure all monies go directly to those organizations working on the front line. The synagogue office is closed but Zelda can access the shul’s telephone number and is working from home. Send her an email or call (250)-382-0615 and if necessary leave a phone message, letting her know that you wish to donate and she will get back to you.

Avodah takes silver!

Avodah at Coldest NightKudos to the wonderful Avodah team of walkers for the Coldest Night of the Year Walk in aid of Our Place, the place of hope and belonging on Pandora Street! The team included: new Emanu-El youth coordinator Adele Mark, Tilly, Eva & Jordan Stanger-Ross, Michael Borins, Rachel Ditor, Ana Oppenheimer, Lucy Nerenberg, Bill Johnstone, Penny Tennenhouse & Nyomi Rosen. Continue reading Avodah takes silver!

Sharing the light: Ḥanukkah 2019

Sameah Hanukkah!On December 22, 2019, a crowd gathered in Centennial Square to celebrate the first night of Ḥanukkah. The musical headliner was the high-octane and popular Victoria High Rhythm and Blues Band. After lighting a large free-standing menorah (“shout out” to Ed Walker), the music and dancing began. Holiday joy, ruaḥ (spirit) and “horas” filled the square. Participants were invited to let their inner light shine amid the darkness of the season and, at times, our troubled world. Generosity and kindness led to many donations to the Avodah “8 for 8 campaign” to support the food bank at St. John the Divine. The backdrop of the “Lights of Wonder” exhibit encouraged more attendees than usual (too many to count!) to show up at the menorah lighting. Lastly, a heartfelt thanks goes to the Downtown Victoria Business Association who partnered with us in this successful and memorable evening.
For more photos (taken by Penny Tennenhouse, Frances Aknai & Frances Rosenberg)…

Avodah serves latkes at Our Place

Now we serveAvodah got Ḥanukkah off to a delicious  and freilach start with our 7th annual well-oiled Big Latke Lunch at Our Place. Our enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers, led by our exceptional latke-maker, Daryl Levine, fried and served an amazing 600 latkes while the ever-loving spirited Klezbians once again came to the aid of the party with their joyful klezmer music including the dedication of a special song to Rabbi Harry—the Rabbi’s Hornpipe and somehow getting Rabbi Harry and Penny to sing with them! Continue reading Avodah serves latkes at Our Place

Avodah sponsors 8 for 8

1161212_avodah_8for8-2On or before December 22, 2019 — Avodah invites you to bring 8 items – one for each night of Ḥanukkah to the Menorah Lighting in Centennial Square, Sunday, December 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm or to the synagogue office during office hours.

Let’s share our abundance with the Emergency Food Service at St. John the Divine.

Suggested non-perishable, new items for donation are:
• canned fruit                                    • canned salmon
• tins of meat, chicken                    • granola bars
• condiments                                    • honey
• jam                                                   • cereal, canned milk
• chunky soups                                 • crackers
• cookies                                            • margarine
• eggs                                                  • razorsCanned goods with pull tab tops are encouraged.Thank you from the Avodah Social Action Group!

“Brrrr it’s cold out!”“Brrrr it’s cold out!”

Avodah helps 2
As the days have become shorter and the cold and wet nights longer, our thoughts are with our less fortunate, vulnerable friends in Victoria.
Presently, Avodah provides support through our ongoing commitments to these local agencies:
  • 1UP Single Parent Resource Centre
  • Burnside Gorge Community Association
  • Out of the Rain
  • Quadra Village Community Centre
Additionally Avodah has had special projects like providing fleece blankets to the Dandelion Society and delivering hundreds of pairs of underwear to numerous small groups.
We rely on the generosity of congregants and friends to continue this work and to increase our commitments.
Please consider making an end-of-year donation to our shul’s social action group, Avodah.