Congregations give back during High Holy Days

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 9, 2015


WEST BLOOMFIELD — During the Ten Days of Repentance, two congregations in West Bloomfield have found unique ways to give alms.

Temple Shir Shalom will collect nonperishable food during its annual food drive 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 20. Food can be dropped off at either Temple Shir Shalom or at The Corners, 2075 Walnut Lake Road in West Bloomfield.

Andre Douville, Temple Shir Shalom executive director, said this is the temple’s 25th year hosting the food drive, and each year, they have exceeded the amount of food they collected the year prior.

“We hold the record for our congregation for the amount per weight — tonnage, if you will — of food collected by a single congregation,” Douville said. The congregation collected more than 12,000 pounds of food during the 2014 drive.

Food is separated between kosher and nonkosher before being distributed to Yad Ezra, a kosher food pantry in Berkley, and Forgotten Harvest. Trucks from each organization are parked at the two locations, and Douville said that Shir Shalom provides “an army of volunteers” to man the tables during the food drop-off.

“We feel very strongly about doing anything we can to help stamp out hunger and to branch off as a membership of the congregation,” Douville said, adding that their mission is to repair the world.

Douville attributes the drive’s success to its date on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“(The food drive) just goes along hand in hand with what’s important to us, and giving back to the community and helping those in need,” Douville said. “We always plan it for that Sunday, and it’s really now become something people expect and count on.”

As the drive has expanded, Light of the World Christian Center has joined Shir Shalom by sending out a group of volunteers to help collect food. In return, Shir Shalom helps Light of the World with its coat drive.

“It’s really neat to be able to see Jewish and non-Jewish people working together for this effort,” Douville said.

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Congregation Beth Ahm
Congregation Beth Ahm, in conjunction with the Downtown Synagogue and Hazon, will venture out to Eden Gardens in Detroit to harvest food for the community noon-4 p.m. Sept. 20

Prior to harvesting food, volunteers will meet at the Downtown Synagogue for a vegetarian lunch and learn about how Jewish values relate to the community and to harvesting food.

Congregation Beth Ahm Jewish Family Educator Elissa Berg said that because Sukkot follows Yom Kippur and is a harvest holiday, the congregation likes to tie a charitable activity to the holiday.

“(There are) a lot of members in our congregation who are interested in gardening and/or food justice, so that’s why we’re choosing this kind of thing to do,” Berg said, adding that teeneragers who attend will receive community service credit.

Volunteers should dress in casual work clothes and bring hats, gloves and sunscreen. The event is free, but advance registration is required by Sept. 11. To register or receive more information, email Berg at or call (248) 851-6880.