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January 2011

In this issue:



About us:

Educating and engaging seniors to do social action;

Empowering grandchildren to make the world a better place;

And creating a legacy from one generation to another.

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Empowered Women Rebuild New Orleans: A Call to Action

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Volunteer Expeditions invites you and your ideas as we plan a May trip to New Orleans that will offer the opportunity to meet, learn, and work alongside women who are making a difference in health care, education, politics, media, religious action and social justice.  We will meet women who contribute to the wonderful New Orleans culture music, food and entertainment.  Volunteers will help rebuild New Orleans and work alongside other passionate women who want to to make a difference in the world.   
We are planning this expedition for the dates of  
May 26th - 30th (Memorial Day) 2011.   
 
Join us in planning this unique experience.  Please get back to us with your interests, comments, and suggestions.  Your input is important to us. Contact:
Patricia Vile
Volunteer Expeditions
312-520-4100
www.volunteerexpeditions.org


Debbie Friedman, 1951-2011

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Debbie Friedman passed away at the very young age of 59 years.  She sang songs that spoke to our soul, our intellect, and our emotions.  Her words and melodies will serve as an inspiration to us and our future generations.
 
"Childhood was for fantasies, for nursery rhymes and toys.
The world was much too busy to understand small girls and boys.
As I grew up, I came to learn that life was not a game,
That heroes were just people that we called another name.
And the old shall dream dreams, and the youth shall see visions,
And our hopes shall rise up to the sky.
We must live for today; we must build for tomorrow.
Give us time, give us strength, give us life.
 
Now I'm grown, the years have passed, I've come to understand:
There are choices to be made and my life's at my command.
I cannot have a future 'til I embrace the past.
I promise to pursue the challenge, time is going fast.
 
Today's the day I take my stand, the future's mine to hold.
Commitments that I make today are dreams from days of old.
I have to make the way for generations come and go.
I'll have to teach them what I've learned so they will come to know."

-Debbie Friedman, "And the Youth Shall See Visions", 2005

Visit AARP's Create the Good for access to some great service opportunities!

Volunteer opportunities in or near your zip code
How-to guides for helping your friends, neighbors and community
Charitable donations through AARP Foundation
Share and post options to help you recruit volunteers for your service initiative               

A Note from Bubbe Sharon

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Dear friends,

For those of us living with snow piling up on the driveway, it is difficult to think of Spring and planting, but in Israel every January, people are celebrating TuB'shvat—the “New Year’s Day of the trees”.

Particularly this year after the worst forest fires in Israel history, they are busy planting new trees in the Carmel Forest for shade, for fruit, for conservation of the soil, for beauty, and for so many other reasons.  Many years ago, when John Glenn orbited Earth for the first time, he announced to the world, "I see all yellow down below, I must be flying over the Middle East.  Oh, I see a patch of green. That must be Israel."  If you chose to help in that endeavor, you can donate to the Jewish National Fund towards the planting of new trees.

There are also things you can do at home.  You can create a tour, almost like a scavenger hunt, with your grandchildren around your house and demonstrate how you can learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle items.  Show things like washing out plastic baggies or replacing them with cloth ones, not using paper napkins or paper towels, and buying larger containers of food because they cost less and used less waste.   Remember the three words. Put them on a poster in your house.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!!!  Then, as you take your tour, write the things you can do on the poster.  Take a picture of the poster, send it to Grandparents for Social Action, and we will send a thank you gift to you!  Lastly, have all the ingredients ready at the end of the tour to make recycled paper with the children. I have provided a link with the instructions here.  Also look at the Holiday Guides offered by the Religious Action Center for more TuB’shvat ideas.


Book Recommendation and Reading Guide

This month, our book recommendation and reading guide comes from our friends at PJ Library.  It's a great program and if your family hasn't already signed up for its free monthly book delivery, read more below, check out the guide, and sign up!

Bim and Bom: a Shabbat Tale by Daniel Swartz

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CLICK HERE FOR READING GUIDE!


About PJ Library
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The PJ Library is an award-winning program brought to you through the generosity of your local Jewish community in partnership with local philanthropists and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. The PJ Library sends out high-quality Jewish children’s books and music to families across North America on a monthly basis. The PJ Library helps families explore the timeless core values of Judaism and transmit these values to a new generation through the closeness of parents and children reading
together. To learn more about this exciting initiative, visit www.PJLibrary.org or contact your local Jewish community PJ Library office.


BabagaNews Environment Art Contest

contest%20thumbnail%20copyAre your grandchildren artists? Are they passionate about the environment? BabagaNewz has partnered with Jewcology.com to sponsor a contest about preserving our environment. Jewcology.com is a collaboration of a wide range of Jewish environmental leaders and organizers worldwide. Their goal is to build a diverse community of Jewish environmental activists who are learning from one another and bringing their teachings to their communities.

Five finalists will be selected in each category—print and multimedia. Community voting on BabagaNewz.com will determine the grand-prize winners—one for print and one for multimedia.  The finalists will each receive a water-powered alarm clock. The grand prize winners will each receive a solar backpack, featuring a solar panel to charge handheld electronics like iPods, cell phones, cameras, Nintendo, Sony PSP, and much more.
From now until February 25, 2011, your grandchildren can create any type of artwork (posters, cartoons, videos, skits, and more). They must be in 3rd through 8th grade and a member of a Jewish congregation in order to enter the contest.  To learn more about the contest, including submission information, please visit www.babaganewz.com/envirocontest.

 


Tu BiSh’vat: A Social Justice Perspective 
Going Back to the Basics

Editor's Note: adapted from the Union for Reform Judaism's 10 Minutes of Torah: The Rhythm of Jewish Time series.

Naomi Abelson is the Union for Reform Judaism’s Social Action Specialist and typically buys certified humane, organic eggs.

prod_31461_13673Once again I find myself awkwardly stalled in the dairy aisle, staring at egg carton displays. “Cage free!” “Organic!” “Free-range!” “Certified humane!” The selection is overwhelming. Who knew that choosing breakfast could be so challenging?
As always, there are customers who sweep past me, grabbing a carton and hurrying along. But there always seem to be one or two others who, like me, take pause. Together, we laugh about our shared state of bewilderment and admiration for society’s new food vocabulary and the seemingly endless ethical food choices we are asked to make.
Of course, these choices aren’t limited to the grocery store. Upscale restaurants have turned their menus into novellas. Dinner is no longer simply a matter of choosing between the chicken and the fish, but is now an ethical choice. Shall I choose chicken raised locally on a farm in the Hudson Valley even if it’s not hormone-free?  Or order the wild salmon fresh-caught but transported from Alaska? Fast food chains have jumped on board as well:  Starbucks, Chipotle and even McDonald’s use their environmentally conscience food choices as a marketing pitch – appealing to socially responsible adults the way Happy Meal prizes appeal to their kids.
The overarching message from today’s nouveau food movements seems to be: eat what’s good for you and good for the earth. But, how “new” is this message, really? Is it innovative, modern and edgy? Or, is it simply reverting back to the basics – to the concepts of environmental stewardship and ethical eating that has always been prevalent in our Jewish tradition?
We will soon celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tu BiSh’vat (January 19-20, 2011). What began as a minor agriculture holiday to honor the beginning of the spring planting season has today grown into a Jewish Earth Day: we give thanks for the beauty of creation and acknowledge our responsibility to care for the earth. As it states in Ecclesiastes 1:4, “One generation goes, another comes, but the earth remains the same forever.”
Tu BiSh’vat also reminds us to honor the change of seasons. During the Tu BiSh’vat seder, we acknowledge (and often consume) the seven species, or classic foods associated with the land of Israel, “a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” (Deuteronomy 8:8) We do this to educate and reflect on our relationship with nature. But this celebration is also a call to action, asking us to examine our ecological footprint and make positive changes.
The lessons of Tu BiSh’vat are the same lessons at the core of the “new” food movement.  Ethical eating has become mainstream. From the New York Times best seller list to the White House garden, from Michelin-star restaurants to fast food chains and from the Today Show to our synagogues. We are being challenged by society and our Jewish traditions to deepen our sense of personal responsibility, make ethical food choices and to leave a healthy, sustainable planet for the next generation. 

So the question remains: how do we transform the lesson of Tu BiSh’vat – our responsibility to care for the earth and honor the foods of the season – into something that is relevant to us at each meal with which we are blessed? 

Here are three easy ways to take action:
1.    Educate Yourself: Learn about the issues. Don’t know where to start? Try Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, the Grist Favorite Food Books of 2010 or Hazon’s The Jew and the Carrot blog.  
2.    Make the Commitment: URJ’s Just Table, Green Table Biennial Initiative asks each of us to take action, one step at a time. Try cutting down on the amount of red meat you consume or making more environmentally conscience food choices when grocery shopping.
3.    Involve your Congregation: Start a food justice program in your congregation using resources available on our website or take part in our upcoming webinar,Community Supported Agriculture 102 on January 25, 2011.
As we celebrate the new year of the trees and the new secular calendar year, let’s take an active role in this new/old food movement by making conscience, ethical food choices as a way of honoring our faith, bodies and the earth.


Happy Birthday to You! -- a new guide from Sharon Halper

Monthly GSA contributor Sharon Halper gives us a guide about birthday traditions and lessons.  Click here to read Sharon's latest guide!


 





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Grandparents for Social Action
Grandparents for Social Action
840 Vernon Ave
Glencoe, Illinois 60022
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