Caring Community


“Caring Community Initiative” pairs families with a variety of TBH-BE Caring Community Committees. Integration of new members happens through personal contact and outreach from our existing members. The TBH-BE Caring Community provides many and varied opportunities to be involved with helping our synagogue community, our neighborhood, and beyond.

Read below for information on the Chesed Network, Cook for a Friend, Soup for the Soul and Response to Hunger

hesed Network

Hesed is a Hebrew word that is hard to translate directly. It suggests kindness, caring, compassion and concern. Our Hesed Network embodies all of these characteristics through its outreach to our membership. Our Hesed Network extends itself to those in our community who need special, gentle support during times of transition, crisis and/or joy. We support members of our community who are in mourning, who have been sick or infirm. We reach out to families celebrating the birth of a new child, those who are home-bound or in need of companionship. These are the people for whom “Hesed” becomes the embodiment of what it means to belong to a caring community.

(Sermon from Rabbi Neil S. Cooper: The Journey of the Soul An Introduction to the Study of Death, Mourning and Comforting – Parashat Terumah)

I. Outreach to Mourners

When a family member dies, the family in mourning must make all the arrangements necessary for the funeral and shiva, at a moment of sorrow, grief and, perhaps, shock. Although these arrangements must be made by family members, there are other arrangements which could be considered. Beyond the funeral arrangements our Hesed Network functions as a team to help and support the family during their period of mourning.

A. Preparations for Shiva

When the mourners and family return from the cemetery, there are preparations which can be made at home on behalf of the family. Our Hesed Committee is able to help in the following ways.

1. When a person enters the home after having been at the cemetery, it is customary to wash one’s hands as a way of making a separation between death and mourning. It is traditional, therefore, to have a pitcher of water and towels outside the front door to accommodate those who are coming directly from the cemetery.

2. It is traditional in a house of shiva for mirrors in public areas of the house to be covered.

3. Upon their return from the cemetery, it is customary for the family to eat a meal. This meal is called Seudat Havra’a, a meal of condolence. That meal is generally a dairy meal. It is customary, as well, for the meal to include hard boiled eggs.

4. Finally, each family in our community which suffers a loss receives an easy to follow book about customs and practices of shiva. One of our committee members will present this book to the mourners on behalf of our synagogue.

B. During Shiva

1. Traditionally, shiva begins as the family leaves the cemetery and continues for seven days. For a variety of personal reasons, many families decide to shorten shiva to three days. The decision regarding the length of shiva is a personal one. Our Committee and community will support whatever decisions the family makes.

2. Services (Minyan/Minyanim)

a. During the days of shiva, most families prefer to have services held in their home. Most often, therefore, evening services (minyan/minyanim) are orchestrated on behalf of the family. If desired, we can also help to organize morning services. Our committee, working in conjunction with those who organize minyanim for our synagogue, helps to arrange to provide leaders for each service.

b. In cases in which the funeral home does not provide for the family prayerbooks/siddurim for services, our committee will deliver prayerbooks for services.

c. Also, when there is doubt regarding the requisite number of people (10) at services, our committee will try to recruit other members of our community to a sure that we have 10 Jewish adults for each service.

3. Meals during Shiva

It is often difficult for families to prepare the meals necessary to sustain the mourners in the house. Our Chesed Committee can arrange for meals to be delivered from other homes in our community during the days of mourning.

4. Visiting

Finally, our committee will be there to visit and to comfort.

C. Following Shiva

1. Shortly after the conclusion of a period of mourning, our committee will deliver some soup, which we call “Soup for the Soul.” This soup, prepared in our synagogue’s kitchen, is our way of extending our love and comfort beyond the days of shiva.

2. There are a number of bereavement support groups in our community. Our committee will be able to give to the family information about these groups.

II. Outreach to Others

1. For those recovering from illness, recently had a baby or requiring some extra assistance, our Hesed Committee can try to help.

2. As we provide meals and support to mourners, similar acts of kindness can be extend to others as well.


Cook for a Friend

Cooking and Delivery dates:  2017

For information contact Sam Brint at

A meal and so much more…

Volunteers support the program by providing a friendly visit, preparing for deliveries, and help to cook meals. There are over 20 cooking groups throughout the Delaware Valley who make meals in partnership with our Cook For a Friend program.

We maintain an inventory of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and vegetarian pasta meals throughout the year. Individuals may choose from these categories to customize their weekly delivery of 5-14 meals. The program includes baked goods, soup and a breakfast bag, when available.

The Cook For a Friend program is a community based program comprised of more than 500 volunteers who prepare and cook meals for homebound seniors. For more information about the larger program, visit

Contact Sam Brint at for more information


Each month or so a small team gathers in our synagogue kitchen to cook 30 – 40 quarts of soup. The soup is frozen and delivered, as needed, to members recovering from illness, childbirth or completing a period of mourning.

Contact Lori Cooper at for more information.

Response to Hunger

Cooking times: 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm
For information contact Margery Cooper at

Created in May 2009, this initiative was established to provide much needed meals for low-income, elderly, and challenged adults who live in the surrounding areas of the synagogue. Our initial list of recipients was furnished by the Federation Food Pantry and the Jewish Relief Agency. The list has continued to grow based on requests from social workers at the Brith Shalom House, Jewish Children and Family Services, and the Tikvah House which provides housing for challenged adults.

For five and half years a group of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer cooks have met monthly to prepare 160 nutritious meals, which are delivered to our thirty three recipients. These meals, along with a bag of fresh fruit, are delivered by a team of seven volunteers who, if desired by the recipient, will stay and visit with them. Read More Here.

Due to the closing of the kosher meals on wheels program, The Response to Hunger Initiative has tried to fill some of the desperate need. Our meals are prepared and delivered at the end of each month to aid our recipients while they are waiting for their next social security check to arrive.

The Response to Hunger Initiative was originally funded with a generous gift given on the occasion of the marriage of two of our synagogue members. We have continued to fund this important community project with a few generous individual donations and the help of funding from Rabbi Cooper. With careful and creative shopping skills we have made every dollar count. The Initiative incurs no other expenses other than our food purchases.

To continue this critical and beneficial effort, The Response to Hunger Initiative is asking the synagogue members to remember the ongoing and crucial funding needs. Time of celebration and memory are excellent opportunities to give to those less fortunate. Donations can be made through the synagogue office.

The Response to Hunger Initiative is coordinated by Margery Cooper. Should you have any questions about the program or donating, please do not hesitate to contact her.

Fri, December 15 2017 27 Kislev 5778