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COVID: What can you do?

05/04/2020 10:56:53 AM


Marc Rutman

What is the role of social activism in the age of social distancing? Activists are brainstorming and recalculating their options in light of the coronavirus pandemic.


This generation is aptly suited to face this challenge to take on causes and continue the fight. The younger generation of activists have honed computer skills since birth. Their technological savvy has prepared them for such a challenge. Activists are adapting to an online existence. The questions stands, how does one remain relevant in the absence of large-scale demonstrations?


As social distancing becomes the norm, how does social action retool itself for change? The answer to this question is adapt and overcome. Political and cause related ralleys have been suspended. Protests and marches across the country have been cancelled. What are we to do?


Swedish teenage Greta Thunburg encourages others to participate in what she deems a “digital strike” instead of gatherings in public and a coalition of members. Attend and participate in causes online. Let your voice be heard.

Take a class. Online classes to train others in organizing and campaigning tactics have been established by The Sunrise Movement.

Pressure your local and statewide representatives. An excellent website and app called resistbot,, facilitates communication at the state and local level. This site allows you to communicate with elected officials and text or email them on issues you deem important.


The following organizations and websites need your support. Get involved. Do your part. Help any way you can.


Hospitals across the country are looking ahead at how they can care for many more patients to come during the COVID-19 outbreak. We currently have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep our doctors and nurses safe on the frontlines of care, but we cannot predict the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To prevent future shortages of PPE and protect our clinicians until transmission of the virus is over, we are reaching out to the community of Richmond and beyond.

For more information on donations, please call VCU Health - (804) 628-0400.

If you are an organization or business (labs, construction, machinery, salons and other personal services) with supplies of PPE, please consider a donation of your supplies to help us protect the physicians, nurses and team members of VCU Health working on the frontlines for the safety and wellbeing of our community.

We welcome donations of the following items:

Surgical masks

N95 masks

Face shields

Digital thermometers

Disposable gowns

Latex-free gloves


Shoe covers

Head covers

Germicide wipes

Please bring your donations in a bag or box, if possible.

If you would like to make face masks, here are the instructions. We recommend you use 65% polyester and 35% cotton cloth material.

Bring donations to:

VCU Medical Center Gateway Building
Valet entrance
1200 E Marshall St, Richmond, Va.


Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-11 p.m.

Valet personnel will assist you with your donation. When you arrive, they will ask you some quick questions and offer you a tax deduction form that you can mail to us for your receipt.

Words of encouragement and thank you notes

We greatly appreciate and happily accept notes of thanks and encouragement for our team members from the community.

Financial contributions

VCU Health has created a COVID-19 Response Fund to support our patients and care providers’ most pressing needs. Please visit this fund to make your gift.







Beth Shalom:


1600 John Rolfe Parkway, Richmond, Virginia 23238



During these challenging times, Beth Shalom needs help boosting the moral of our over 250 employees who are working around the clock to care for our residents. Your contributions enable us to remain a leader in healthcare, and also demonstrates the generosity and dedication of the greater Richmond community to its seniors.

Please find COVID-19 Staff Appreciation Giving opportunities as well as others below. Reach out to Beth Shalom at or call




Richmond Public Schools Food Distribution Information
Henrico County Public Schools Food Distribution Information




Jewish Federation:



Volunteers will continue making telephone calls to support homebound seniors. If you’d like to volunteer from home to call seniors, please contact Teresa Baldwin at or 282-5644 ext. 265. If you or someone you know would like to receive daily telephone reassurance calls, please reach out to us at 804-282-5644.


Due to necessary precautions at this time, Beth Sholom Senior Living is unable to receive visitors. To write cards or letters to residents, please mail to:

Beth Sholom Senior Living
c/o Mo Funk: Resident Card
1600 John Rolfe Parkway
Richmond, VA 23238


Jewish Earth Alliance Letter-Writing Campaign
Jewish Earth Alliance is asking Congress to protect us from COVID-19 and accelerating climate change. Your help is needed. Visit to find an Action Alert/Sample Letter. Email your letters to All ages are welcome to participate. Contact Jen Odintz at with questions or for more information.


Donate Blood
Since hospitals in our area and across the country still need blood in these difficult times, please consider donating blood. American Red Cross multiple blood donation centers in the Richmond area. If you still wish to give blood, we recommend you check with Please visit their websites for information on how to set up appointments and precautions on how to donate safely.



Passover Reflections 2020

04/22/2020 12:17:40 PM


Kristin Gorin


As I watched the Disney version of the Exodus, “Prince of Egypt” this year with my kids, I
dreaded the part when all the first born of the Egyptians died. Liam, with big tears looked at the
screen with great sadness, and said, Mami, are they dead? It pained me to say yes. I also had to
tell him later in the movie that all those Egyptians that chased the newly freed hebrews
drowned and died too. The Passover story always makes me wonder why did all those people
have to die? Why was the punishment so cruel? So as life would have it, the death of the first
born is in this passage today that Rabbi asked me to reflect on, so I needed to confront the
uncomfortable issues for me in this passage.
I asked Rabbi a few questions about this and he pointed out, that we have to see what
challenging about the Passover story AND what’s inspiring….So I immersed myself in reading,
to find inspiration in the Passover story, related to this torah portion.
I came across a Midrash that explained that there was a rebellion against Pharaoh and the first
born sons killed their fathers to PROTEST Pharaoh’s authoritarian leadership. These young men
were then sentenced to death by an enraged Pharaoh, and that’s how the first born died, in an
act of rebellion against tyranny and oppression of the Hebrew people, not at the hand of G?d.
There is another midrash that says that Pharaoh’s daughter was spared the pain of losing her
first born and actually left with the Hebrews out of Egypt.
Whether or not these two midrashim are true, they are powerful statements to me about the
human role in the redemptive portion of the Passover story. The courageous stories of those
young men that rebelled against their fathers and Pharaoh’s daughter who bravely defied her
father, and maybe even left Egypt with the Hebrews are with us even to this day as powerful
examples of social change and confronting injustice. They also give us hope, inspiration, and
courage to redeem the world.
I am reading Rabbi’s book, which I highly recommend, 5 stars, and he challenged all of us to see
ourselves in the Exodus. What does this mean? I read something that was profound in the
hagadah conglusion by BM Cohen. That it isn’t enough to imagine we were there at the Exodus,
we have to feel it on a gut level. I think that is what the seder tries to get us to do, we are
always instructed to taste the bitterness of slavery, feel the terror of the plagues for both
Hebrews and Egyptians, and experience joy as we witness redemption, but feeling it on gut
level changed the dynamic for me. We have to be present with Passover as if we were actually
In trying to see myself in the story, it occurred to me that we won’t ever know if G?d was
responsible for the death of the firstborn, or the drowning of the Egyptian army, but we can
know that modern plagues such as COVID-19, and the issues RISC chose to work on this year,
which are the housing crisis, and gun violence are all modern day plagues caused by humans.
RISC choses it’s issues by doing a listening process in which members of each congregation are
asked “what keeps you up at night? Or in other words, what plagues you?” This is how we know

the issues that RISC picks are profoundly affecting our communities. Once we are aware of the
issues, it isn’t enough to wish life was better for everyone or hope G?d intervenes one day, we,
humans, must do the work of changing the course of human suffering. That in a nutshell is the
mission of RISC. After we elect two issues to tackle for the coming year, we then engage in
research to find solutions to these systemic problems. For me, the powerful message of
Passover is realizing our own redemption story as Jews: first we will relive our own suffering,
next we will experience the jubilation of freedom, then what springs forth is empathy for those
that are still suffering, and finally we act bravely from that gut level experience of slavery and
redemption and get to work on these systemic issues that plague and enslave others.
To quote Rabbi Knopf, “History only progresses in the trajectory of justice if acted upon by an
outside force. As G?d’s only creation with godlike consciousness and moral judgement, we
human beings can and must be that outside force. Emulating G?d, we can and must help bend
the arc of history towards justice.”
I had a thought yesterday after reading this quote: I realized if G?d isn’t responsible for all the
evil in the world because we clearly see modern day plagues caused by humans, then G?d
certainly isn’t responsible for all the justice. The Passover story is full of human acts of justice.
As a baby, Moses’ life wasn’t spared by G?d, it was spared by Pharaoh’s daughter, G?d didn’t
yell down to Pharaoh to free the Hebrews, G?d sent Moses. Moses didn’t go alone either, his
brother went with him. If we sit back and let G?d do the intervening, it may or may not happen.
Maybe G?d needs us to do justice.
RISC’s slogan often used is “Justice demands RISC.” And I think of Moses and Pharaoh often
when RISC speaks at city council meetings or with the mayor, the police chief, the
commonwealth attorney, and other local leaders. We are presenting our solutions to
community leaders, but most importantly we are we are asking for justice to be done in our city
on behalf of those who are still experiencing modern day plagues.
BM Cohen writes this in the conclusion to the seder called Zisson Pesach,
The Hebrew word “Haggadah” means “The Telling.” It is through the stories that we
tell that we build our understanding of the world, of who we are, of the nature of
Truth. The very identities that each of us hold as “ourselves” are really a collection of
personal stories that we believe about ourselves. Through the experience of Pesach,
we add to our personal narrative, the story of the redemption of our people. We hold
in our deepest heart of hearts the Truth that the miracle of Redemption from suffering
is possible for each and every one of us, because it happened to us—to “me”—in
Egypt all those years ago.
Let us experience our Redemption, be inspired by the Passover Story and bring with us the
determination to free everyone else. Please reach out to me, Rabbi, or Marc Rutman if you
want to be a part of RISC. And may you see yourself in the Exodus. Chag Pesach Sameach.

SATO March News and Events

03/21/2018 12:04:06 PM


SATO updates

02/12/2018 12:28:21 PM


Dear SATO and CHAI volunteers:

This note comes from Adrain Bakker at First Unitarian Univ. Church at 1000 Blanton Ave., Richmond 23230

Please send any replies to him at

Good evening everyone!  Now that First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond has declared that they will offer physical sanctuary to an individual or family at risk of deportation, we have some work to do to prepare. If anyone can help with any of the following items, please let me know!

  • Bed and furniture donations- Do you have a bed, dresser, television, small table, love seat, or any other furniture that may be useful for our guest(s)? We are trying to generate a list of available pieces so that we can quickly furnish a room to accomodate our guest(s) once we know his/her/their needs. I am hoping that we can have several bed sizes available so that we can accomodate any family size. 
  • Medical/Dental care- Are you a dentist, nurse, or physician that would be able to offer your services to our guest(s)?
  • Storage space- Our guest(s) may need storage space to put their belongings while they are living in sanctuary (to avoid paying rent on a vacant apartment/house). Do you have a garage, spare room, or space in your basement that you would be willing to offer?
  • After-hours Companionship- Our guest(s) may be nervous initially about moving into the church or about being alone at nighttime with the risk ICE showing up. If requested, we would like to be able to offer our guest(s) some company. Please consider if this is something that you can contribute if the need arises.

I have also attached the latest Hospitality Circle volunteer list (which Maureen has done such a fabulous job keeping up to date!)

I thank you all for your passion to serve our community!1

Have a wonderful weekend,

Adrian Bakker

SATO Committee is in the process of becoming affiliated with RISC 

02/07/2018 11:25:48 AM



Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) is a grassroots organization comprising diverse congregations throughout the Greater Richmond region.  RISC is a proven way for us to be a dynamic force in Social Outreach in our community. Learn more by attending any or all of the following:


Education Committee Meeting

Thursday, February 15, 6:30pm at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1627 Monument Ave.   (Parking lot behind church). 

Nuts and bolts of working with Richmond and Henrico School Boards to introduce Reading Mastery Program into the Public School Systems to bring children’s reading skills up to grade level.

Train the Trainers: To Understand RISC 

Monday, February 19,  7:30pm at  The Light Community Church, 601 Azalea Ave.  

A guided discussion about our concerns for the community, sharing about RISC and how we build people power, and inviting our guests to become involved in building a justice network. 



TBE SATO meeting to discuss Implementation of RISC program

Tuesday, February 27, 7:00 pm, Brown Religious School 601 N Parham Road. 



RISC Local website 

RISC National website  

Thu, May 28 2020 5 Sivan 5780