Social Action Committee Activities

October 2019

UPDATE ON SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

The Social Action Committee has worked together with FISH and SCUCC to sponsor a Paper Drive throughout the season. Food Pantries often receive food and cash donations, but rarely get donations of paper goods such as paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, tissues, diapers, feminine products, etc. 

Please bring paper product donations to remaining High Holy Day services. There will be clearly marked FISH bins by each set of stairs, as well as upstairs, for you to deposit your donations.

 

The Social Action Committee is continuing to network with other immigrant rights activists in South Florida. We are working with a local pastor and Lee County Legal Aid to schedule an immigrant Know Your Rights session at a local Church. Our Committee has helped organize and will attend the Southwest Florida Immigration Summit in Fort Myers on November 18.

If you are a Florida registered voter....a group, Ban Assault Weapons NOW, affiliated with the Parkland students in association with Americans For Gun Safety Now, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Florida American Academy of Pediatrics, Florida PTA, Florida Veterans For Common Sense, League of Women Voters, March For Our Lives, and Newtown Action Alliance is gathering signatures for a proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment for the November 2020 ballot to ban assault weapons in Florida.

 

This is how Florida got medical marijuana and the vote for former felons. They have so far gathered 100,000 out of approximately 767,000 Florida registered voter signatures needed. Please print the petition from https://bawnfl.org/amendment.html and mail it in. Match your signature to your driver’s license/voter registration. Please share with other voters registered in Florida.

 

Garry Weiss,

Chair, Social Action Committee

September 2019

UPDATE ON SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

 

The Bat Yam Social Action Committee is continuing its focus on asylum-seeking immigrants in our midst.  We had a bus trip scheduled with other immigrant activist groups to go to the Florida Child Detention Facility in Homestead, but Homeland Security mysteriously evacuated the facility a few days before we were scheduled to go.  We do not know where they took the children.

 

We continue to work with Lee County Legal Aid, Lee County Hispanics, and Catholic Charities of Immokalee to support Immigrant Know Your Rights sessions.  We are also involved in a task force led by Adonia Simpson of Americans for Immigrant Justice (she led our Know Your Rights training session last April) to plan an Immigration Summit for Fort Myers.

 

If you are an attorney or know any attorneys, here is a link from ACLU for providing legal help (including opportunities to help remotely) for the victims of the ICE raids in Mississippi:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdmL9Uwg8j8GvuSUr3HvKUkjIT7ZgQuHhLC DmoqeiuUkhXPpg/viewform.

 

If you are a Florida registered voter, please note: A group, Ban Assault Weapons NOW, affiliated with the Parkland students in association with Americans For Gun Safety Now, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Florida American Academy of Pediatrics, Florida PTA, Florida Veterans for Common Sense, League of Women Voters, March For Our Lives, and Newtown Action Alliance is gathering signatures for a proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment for the November 2020 ballot to ban assault weapons.  This is how Florida got medical marijuana and the vote for former felons.  They have so far gathered 100,000 out of approximately 767,000 Florida registered voter signatures needed.  Please print the petition from the link below and mail in the form. Match your signature to your driver’s license/voter registration.  Please share with other Florida registered voters via https://bawnfl.org/amendment.html.

May 2019

REPORT FROM THE SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE

 

On March 29, the Bat Yam Social Action Committee along with Americans for Immigrant Justice (www.aijustice.org) sponsored a workshop on how to conduct Know Your Rights sessions for immigrants in our midst who are woefully unaware of their rights, needs for qualified legal representation, and how to prepare their families in the event they are detained or deported.  Approximately forty people from Bat Yam and other Southwest Florida community organizations attended.  

 

We hope to follow the “welcome the stranger” teachings from throughout the Torah and work with the community organizations that attended the workshop over the next few months to plan our next steps. We expect to be involved in initiating and participating in immigrant Know Your Rights and Legal Screening sessions in our community over the next year.  

                                                     

Garry Weiss, Chair, Social Action Committee

 

 

March 2019

SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE TO HOLD “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” PRESENTATION AND WORKSHOP MARCH 29

 

On Friday March 29 at 2 p.m. in Fellowship Hall of the SCUCC, the Bat Yam Social Action Committee will host a “Know Your Rights” presentation and workshop to train people who are interested in learning more about the topic or interested in delivering “Know Your Rights” presentations to immigrants in our community. The presenter/trainer will be Adonia Simpson, a lawyer for and Director of the Family Defense Program of Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami. Some knowledge of Spanish or Creole is helpful but absolutely not necessary. 

 

According to Garry Weiss, Chair of the Social Action Committee, this program came about because in January, he, Janice Block Chaddock, Barry Fulmer, and James Davis visited the contractor-run ISAP (Intensive Supervision Appearance Program) Check-in Center in Ft. Myers. They spoke directly to a number of “clients,” all from Guatemala and all wearing ankle monitors. They eventually spoke with a “Deportation Officer” who “politely” asked them to leave and not return, claiming they were on “private property.” 

One of the clients told them he arrived in the US in Arizona with his two children and that his wife remained in Guatemala because of the dangers of the journey. He came here because there is no work in Guatemala and hoped when he left the office that day he’d be able to work. He mentioned beatings he received in Guatemala and showed the delegation a form he signed in Arizona. It was in English only; he did not understand English at all. He said there was no official in Arizona who spoke Spanish. All he knew was that if he signed the form, he could get into the US and get to Ft. Myers. “Obviously,” Weiss points out, “he had no idea what he had signed.”

The clients also appeared to have the basic necessities of life. “But,” according to Weiss, “It appeared they had little or no understanding of the ‘process’ or of their rights and need for representation or knowledge that such services could be obtained for little or no cost. The Deportation Officer made sure we knew all the clients had been arrested because they had entered the US  ‘illegally’. He also said they had no need of legal representation until they had their hearings, which would be in Miami or Orlando, the only two cities with immigration courts in the state of Florida, and they would be advised there. We believed this is too late, even if it did really happen. Again, he mentioned we were soliciting on private property if we were to return with the ACLU ‘Conozca Sus Derochos’ (‘Know Your Rights’) international handouts provided by the ACLU and other immigrant activist organizations. 

We decided to address the need for legal resources by helping to outreach and organize ‘Conozca Sus Derechos’ (Know Your Rights) programs in the area that would also include local legal assistance sources.”

Please respond to Garry Weiss at GSW211@gmail.com if you want to attend the March 29 workshop, and invite others who might be interested to come.

February 2019

SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE FOCUSES ON ASYLUM-SEEKING IMMIGRANTS’ NEEDS IN OUR COMMUNITY

 

Each week at Friday night services, Rabbi Fuchs mentions the “Number 1” Torah lesson – welcome the stranger!  Bat Yam’s Social Action Committee’s number one goal is to have our congregation do everything it can to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” of Judaism’s teachings. In December, Maria Cardenas from Catholic Charities Immigration Services in Immokalee gave a moving presentation to the Bat Yam Social Action Committee on the plight of Immigrant Asylum Seekers in our midst and the work of her organization. Via networking with other island organizations, we have recruited nine attorneys and three medical practitioners as volunteers to support Immigrant Services in Immokalee. We are also working with Rev. Deborah Kunkel from SCUCC to plan a combined Immigration Issue awareness session for our two congregations. We have several other potential projects in the works. Watch your Bat Yam emails and future issues of “Bat Yam Matters” – there’s more to come!

                                            Garry Weiss,

                                           Chair, Bat Yam Social Action Committee

January 2019

BAT YAM TZEDAKAH COMMITTEE CONTRIBUTES

TO CALIFORNIA FIRE VICTIMS

 

Salessa Berk, Chair of Bat Yam’s Tzedakah Committee, announced that the committee has donated $500 to the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles to aid victims of the recent California wildfires.

April 2018

The Social Action Committee’s last paper drive of the season to benefit FISH will be April 6th and 7th. Leave your paper goods in bins in front of the SCUCC.

March 2018

According to Bat Yam’s Social Action Committee, Florida has the third highest incidence of human trafficking in the United States. Children as young as nine years old are victimized. These victims of labor and sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens or immigrants, female or male, children or adults. No one is immune from being targeted. On Thursday March 1st at 7 p.m., Nola Theiss, Executive Director of the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership, will speak at 7 p.m. in Heron Hall of the SCUCC about what parents, grandparents, and community members can do to help prevent this crime.

The Social Action Committee’s next paper goods drive to benefit F.I.S.H. will be March 2nd and 3rd. Leave your donated paper goods in bins in front of the SCUCC.

February 2018

 

SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROGRAM

 

According to Bat Yam’s Social Action Committee, Florida has the third highest incidence of human trafficking in the United States. Children as young as nine years old are victimized. These victims of labor and sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens or immigrants, female or male, children or adults. No one is immune from being targeted. On Thursday March 1st at 7 p.m., Nola Theiss, Executive Director of the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership, will speak at 7 p.m. in Heron Hall of the SCUCC about what parents, grandparents, and community members can do to help prevent this crime.

 

The Social Action Committee also helped organize a public vigil at a Fort Myers Wendy’s on January 18th, part of a nationwide protest calling for a boycott of Wendy’s to urge them join all of the other fast food chains in participating in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers/Alliance for Fast Food Program. Members of faith communities from Sanibel and Fort Myers, including Rabbi Fuchs and Reverend John Danner, participated.

 

The committee’s next paper goods drive to benefit F.I.S.H. will be

 

Feb. 2nd and 3rd. Leave your donated paper goods in bins in front of the SCUCC.

January 2018

The Bat Yam Social Action Committee has worked together with FISH (the food pantry on Sanibel) to sponsor a once a month Paper Drive. The next collection will be during the weekend of January 5th.

 

Social Action Committee Chair Garry Weiss reports, “We had a tremendous response to our Paper Drive on December 1 and 2. Please bring paper product donations to services and classes on January 5th and 6th.

There will be clearly marked FISH bins each month for you to deposit your donations.”

 

For more information about the Social Action Committee, contact Garry at gsw211@gmail.com.

December 2018

UPDATE  ON SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE

The Bat Yam Social Action Committee is gathering a group of volunteers to pack and sort food for Hurricane Irma relief and other initiatives once a month at the Harry Chapin Food Bank at 3760 Fowler Street in Ft. Myers.

 

The committee will  arrange carpooling. According to Social Action Committeechair Garry Weiss, “We are planning to volunteer the third Wednesday of each month for the 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. shift, probably starting in December.” If you are interested in participating (it is understood that volunteers may well miss individual shifts), please contact Garry at gsw211@gmail.com or telephone 410-336-2612. The Committee also works with FISH, the food pantry on Sanibel, to sponsor a once-a-month Paper Drive for the organization during the first weekend of Shabbat services and Shabbat morning classes for each month beginning December 1st. Please bring paper product donations to services and classes during the first weekend of each month. There will be clearly marked FISH bins each month into which you can deposit your donations.

The committee is planning another visit (it made its first visit last April) to the Coalition of Immokalee/Fair Food Alliance in Immokalee for a tour, educational presentation, discussion of the group’s needs, its history, and a discussion about how the social action committee and Bat Yam members can help local migrant farm workers. For more information about the Social Action Committee, contact Garry at gsw211@gmail.com.

October 2018

Bat Yam Social Action Committee Chair Garry Weiss reports that according to his research, the best way to help local Irma hurricane victims is through the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida in Ft. Myers. Its website is www.harrychapinfoodbank.org. Plans for the Social Action Committee’s upcoming season include a paper drive (such items as toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, feminine hygiene products, etc.) for F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service Here) of Sanibel- Captiva. Says Weiss, “Food pantries generally receive little or no contributions of these items, which are a large expense for F.I.S.H., and are thus often in very short supply.”

Activities Through September 2018

This past July, the Bat Yam Social Action Committee arranged for the Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW) to present a program at that month’s Democratic Club of the Islands’ meeting. According to Social Action Committee chair Garry Weiss, “Following their presentation, the CIW received over $5,000 in contributions from Democratic Club of the Islands members.” The committee plans another visit to CIW in Immokalee for those who missed the initial visit last April.

 

Plans for the upcoming season include a paper drive (such items as toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, feminine hygiene products, etc.) for F.I.S.H. (Friends in Service Here) of Sanibel-Captiva. Says Weiss, “Food pantries generally receive little or no contributions of these items, which are a large expense for F.I.S.H., and are thus often in very short supply.”

The committee received a “Save the Date” notice of January 28th, 2018 for the Sanibel/Captiva Heart Walk, in which Bat Yam has participated for the last several years.

2016-2017

                                                                                                2016-2017

 

THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF HEALTH CARE: A

PRESENTATION BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD

On Thursday, April 6th at 7:00pm in Fellowship Hall of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, representatives from Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida will speak about the medical and educational services it has provided since 1966. Planned Parenthood was founded to help women, men and young people make responsible choices about sex and family planning. Its health centers do not turn anyone away because of what they look like, where they are from, who they love, or what kind of care they need.

 

Come learn about the impact of the proposed federal budget and its defunding of Planned Parenthood. Learn specifically what is happening in the State of Florida concerning these health issues. Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida serves 40,000 patients living in twenty-two Florida counties at eleven health centers.  And come learn how we might help keep Planned Parenthood centers open, continuing to provide medical services, education and advocacy -- on sexual and reproductive health -- as it has done for 100 years. This program is sponsored by Bat Yam’s Social Action Committee and is open to the public.

OUR HAITIAN NEIGHBORS… WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY NEED: PROGRAM ON  FEB. 1

Most of us would be surprised to learn that there is a very large (guesstimated at 25,000+) Haitian population living, learning, and working in Fort Myers. We would likely be discomfited to learn of the many unmet needs of this community.

 

Beatrice Jacquet, herself Haitian and also co-President of the Haitian-American Democratic Club of Lee County, will introduce us to the Haitian people – their culture, history, and life in SWFL – and share with us their specific needs and concerns in a program on Wednesday, February 1st, at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. We will learn of ways we might choose to serve some of the unmet needs of this community.

 

This presentation is the first sponsored by our newly- formed Social Action Committee. Please be assured that while Beatrice works with the Democratic Club (as most Haitians are Democrats), this is not a partisan, political presentation. We will not be involved in politics, but rather hope to find meaningful, hands-on social action projects. If you would like any further information on this program, contact Social Action Committee chair Garry Weiss at gsw211@gmail.com, (410) 336-2612 or Rabbi Soifer at  myrabbims@gmail.com, (775)721-5508.

 

We look forward to seeing you at this important program as we strive to fulfill our commitment to the Mitzvah of Tikkun Olam – making our world a better and more just place.

T’RUAH’S CAMPAIGN WITH THE COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS:

SPECIAL PROGRAM ON FEBRUARY 27TH

Who picks the food you eat? How much are they paid? Would you pay a penny more for better wages for the workers who pick your food? Are their human rights monitored – with real consequences for abuses?

 

T’ruah, a national Jewish, human rights organization, has joined with the Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers to address these questions and more as they affect those who harvest tomatoes in nearby Immokalee, Florida. Rabbi Rachel Kahn- Troster, Director of Programs for T'ruah, will speak to us about efforts to work for the safety and dignity of these farm workers on Monday, February 27 at 10:30 a.m. in Heron Hall of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.

 

We’ll explore possibilities for joining in these efforts for worker justice. This program is sponsored by Bat Yam’s newly formed Social Action Commmittee. For more details on this program or the committee, contact either Committee Chair Garry Weiss, gsw211@gmail.com, or Rabbi Soifer.

BAT YAM’S NEW SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE

In November 2016, Rabbi Soifer and I initiated Bat Yam’s Social Action Committee. Over the course of the season several active congregation members joined, including Barry Fulmer, Barbara Epstein, Adele Anish, and Edina Lessack. The Committee adopted the Mission Statement of “Preserving Idealism Through Action”. We are inspired by the Hebrew word “T’ruah”, one of the sounds of the shofar, that calls us to take action to create a more just world.

 

During the 2017 season, the Social Action Committee sponsored three events/activities. The first was a cultural exchange  with representatives from the local Haitian- American Community (there are approximately 25,000 Haitian- Americans in the Fort Myers area).

The representatives identified needs of their community and warmly welcomed our participation and assistance. The Social Action Committee decided to fund and sponsor a $500 post secondary education scholarship for a local Haitian-American student as part of the Haitian- American community’s scholarship program.  We look forward to perhaps future involvement with English teaching for adults and assistance with such things as job applications.

 

The second event/activity involved a presentation by Rabbi Rachel Kahn- Troster, Director of Programs of T’ruah, the rabbinic call for Human Rights.  Rabbi Troster discussed with

 

us the issues facing the migrant farm workers of Immokalee. The Social Action Committee is scheduling a visit to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to learn more about their activities and discuss ways the Social Action Committee may provide support.

 

The third event/activity was a presentation/discussion lead by Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. The well-attended discussion centered on the critical health care roles of Planned Parenthood in our community and the current legislative threats for continuation. Attendees discussed potential future Social Action Committee activities such as: phone- bank/letter writing “parties” to contact state and federal elected officials; and organizing further Planned Parenthood education sessions to inform more members of the community of the vital health care work and services of Planned Parenthood.

 

The Committee has begun networking with other religious organizations on the island for coordinated social action activities. We have also reached out to a local Imam for our communities to work together on social action activities. In addition, we have initiated contact with the Human Trafficking Awareness partnership to discuss ways we may support this organization.

 

We welcome all congregants who would like to join us on the committee and at our special events.

Garry Weiss, Chair