Judaism teaches us that we should do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Since M’kor Shalom’s inception in 1974, our congregation has been driven and guided by the principles of tikkun olam (repairing the world), and we have a proud tradition of helping those in our community who need it most. Here are some of our current programs:
In May 2015, M’kor Shalom, in partnership with the Garden State Discovery Museum and Camden Children’s Garden, created a large urban garden in the heart of Camden at the Neighborhood Center. In its first season alone, the garden produced a variety of healthy organic vegetables, fruit and herbs that was given to nearby residents who do not have a local supermarket or access to fresh food. The garden helped make the 8,000 meals that the Center served to hungry men, women and children over the past summer, a 46 percent increase in meals from 2014. Congregants volunteered throughout the spring, summer and fall months to weed, harvest and keep the garden flourishing. If you would like to volunteer and help our garden grow, please contact Kim Coffina at UrbanGarden@mkorshalom.org.
High Holy Day Food Drive
Food insecurity is not just a problem in the poorest cities, but plagues our nearby communities and people we see on a daily basis. To that end, M’kor Shalom mobilizes its congregants every fall to donate food during its High Holy Day Food Drive. Social Action Committee members distribute shopping bags on Rosh Hashanah and collect them full of food on Yom Kippur. The main beneficiary is the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) Food Pantry that provides food throughout the South Jersey area. For more information, contact Kim Coffina at HHDFoodDrive@mkorshalom.org.
Supporting Our Troops:
M’kor Shalom recognizes the extreme sacrifices made by our troops serving overseas, and that is why we are a proud supporter of Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey (OYR). Throughout our two-year partnership with OYR, M’kor Shalom has sent nearly 600 pounds of food and specifically requested items to our military serving in the Middle East. Our congregants donate snacks and supplies, bake cookies, braid parachute cord bracelets and make thank you cards that bring joy to our troops and let them know that they are not forgotten. To learn more about our OYR program, please contact Kim Coffina at OYR@mkorshalom.org.
IHOC (Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council) Hospitality Program
The Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council is a group of volunteer congregations working together to address the problems of those who are homeless. IHOC has been serving Camden County since 1991. For 23 years, M’kor Shalom has been offering shelter, hospitality and large doses of education and kindness for up to 12 carefully screened men. The men are all clean and sober and are on their way to living better lives. They spend two weeks in late December with us. The highlight of their stay is a Christmas dinner prepared by IHOC graduates. The men are encouraged to invite their loved ones to help celebrate the holiday. Not only do the men benefit from their stay at M’kor Shalom, but so do our volunteers. Many times we hear the volunteers say they received much more than they gave.
Even though the men are with us for only two weeks, it takes a significant planning effort on the part of our committee in advance of their arrival to assure everything will run smoothly, and then over 100 people to participate during the two weeks. We need volunteers to prepare meals, stay overnight with our guests, and provide some transportation. We also accept donations of gift cards, food staples, laundry supplies, games, and magazines.
To be part of our team, and join us when our guests will be here in December, contact Sheila Lever and Heidi Swartz at IHOC@mkorshalom.org.
Cooking for the Hungry
Once a month volunteers aged 12 and up gather in the M’kor Shalom kitchen to cook a nutritious meal for the hungry. We slice, dice, mix and cook together in a relaxed, fun environment, knowing our casseroles, soups and other goodies will be much appreciated by people in Camden. No experience needed; children must be accompanied by an adult. We usually cook from 7:00-9:00 pm on the first Thursday of each month, but check the synagogue calendar to make sure. Sign up is required; e-mail Steve German at Cooking@mkorshalom.org.
Each year our congregants participate in a number of programs that have a tangible effect on the lives of people who are struggling to survive. Among them are our High Holy Day Food Drive and Adopt-A-Box. Contact Kim Coffina at MonthlyMitzvot@mkorshalom.org if you would like to participate in collection and delivery of a mitzvah project.
Ronald McDonald House
For over 20 years, members of M’kor Shalom have run the Ronald McDonald House in Camden over the Christmas holiday. Our volunteers serve all of the administrative functions from the morning of December 24 through the morning of December 26, thereby allowing the House staff to enjoy time off. More important, our volunteers help to make the holiday special for the families of ill children who need to stay close to Cooper Hospital. We make sure that it’s a well-functioning, warm and comforting home for families under great stress. Our tasks include answering telephones and doors, registering and checking families out of the House, as well as providing holiday meals, organizing structured activities and informally mingling with the guests. This is a wonderful mitzvah that can be shared as a family. Children who are school age and above are welcome to participate, if they are accompanied by a parent. Contact Eileen Fox at RMH@mkorshalom.org for more information and to volunteer.
From time to time, the Social Action Committee hosts events that promote interfaith and interracial understanding and collaboration. Interfaith seders, choir concerts and dinners in the sukkah are some of the projects that our committee has undertaken in past years.