Beit Emanuel Care Committee
The Beit Emanuel Care Committee are among the unsung angels of the congregation. Their task is to work quietly in the background to support the Rabbi in his pastoral work. Says chairperson Judy Hodes: “We visit the sick, the elderly and those in need. We offer an ear and advice; assist with lifts to services and medical appointments, and disseminate information on sources of assistance, financial and other.”
The Care Committee was established in 2007 by Rahle Lurie (the first chairperson), Judy Hodes and Esme Carel, together with Rabbi Dr Robert Ash. Current members include Julia Rubenstein-Solomon, Achim Neuhofer, Maureen Katzeff, Maureen Lemekwane and Alysia Rose.
One of the committee’s most important roles is to make personal contact with individual members of the shul. For example, every shul member receives a birthday phone call from the committee.
Together with the Rabbi, the committee are working on producing various booklets, including advice on weddings, mourning and bar/bat-mitzvahs, readings for visits to the sick and elderly, benching cards for community dinners, and a book of meditations and prayers.
The Care Committee’s tasks include:
- Visiting the sick, either at home or in hospital, and leave gifts. Those who are very ill are put on a ‘concern list’and more frequent contact is maintained.
- Assisting with the mourning process, offering both practical and emotional support.
- Assisting the elderly with lifts to functions, to shul services, to doctors, or just to the shops. Most of all, providing human contact for the elderly and lonely.
- Sponsoring seats at Shabbat dinners and other special dinners such as Rosh Hashanah.
- Referring people in need of financial assistance to either the United Sisterhood or the Chevra Kadisha.
Says Judy: “It is imperative that the Care Committee is kept informed if people in the congregation are in need. What tends to happen is that people indirectly mention others who are ill or are in need, and that’s how we hear about it. But it would help if people contacted us directly with names.”
The Care Committee has also established the Care Awards, which reward members of the congregation who have made substantial contributions to the congregation and to Progressive Judaism over many years. A certificate is issued at a Friday night Shabbat service as a token of esteem by members of Beit Emanuel, and a special brocha is held in honour of the person receiving the award. Previous recipients have been the late Frans Benedict, who for years phoned every congregant who had a birthday, and Leonard Singer, a former chairman who has played a key behind-the-scenes management role for nearly 20 years.
The Care Committee is in urgent need of volunteers who can offer such help as lifts to shul or hosting of members for Shabbat. There are many people in need in the congregation, and Judy feels that it is important to send the right person to visit the person in need. The committee is also in need of donations to cover the cost of gifts for the sick and the sponsorship of seats at lunches and dinners.
The Care Committee holds alternate weekly meetings, either on Monday or on Saturday mornings. If you can assist in any way, please contact Judy Hodes on 084 596 3222.