Temple Sha’arey Shalom and Community Presbyterian Church Participate in Homeless Sabbath Weekend
Over the weekend of December 15 – 17, 2017, a group of non-profit agencies and interfaith congregations organized multi-faith congregations in Union County, New Jersey to participate in the Homeless Sabbath Weekend, a multi-faith “call to action.”
This “call to action” was the Second Annual Homeless Sabbath Weekend December 15-17, 2017.
Organizers of the Homeless Sabbath weekend and Vigil include:
- Community Access Unlimited,
- Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless,
- Family Promise Union County,
- Gateway Family YMCA,
- Iris House,
- Monarch Housing Associates, and the
- Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council.
Ten congregations from across Union County participated in the 2017 Sabbath.
Temple Sha’arey Shalom in Springfield celebrated a Shabbat Evening. At the Shabbat evening, the congregation celebrated Hannukah and every family brought their own Hannukiah to light.
The congregation spoke about light in the darkness and their role as bearers of light and protection to all those who are in need. The congregation’s President spoke about the many activities that the synagogue supports to help the homeless.
The congregation encouraged all of its members to join in our projects which help to feed and get to know neighbors through different organizations. All those who lit candles pledged that their family would do more in their communal lives through certain organizations to help get rid of homelessness.
The Community Presbyterian Church in Mountainside included the Homeless Sabbath bulletin insert in its bulletins. The church highlighted which organizations the congregation has been directly involved with.
The congregation used a litany for the homeless instead of its usual responsive reading of a psalm. The church’s pastor included special mention of the needs of the homeless or near homeless in its main prayer of the morning and made mention of the needs in the sermon.
On the night of January 24, 2017, 475 people, including 55 people without shelter, experienced homelessness in Union County, according to NJ Counts, the Point-In-Time count. The Homeless Sabbath Weekend organizers believe that no one should be homeless for the holidays or at any time of the year.
Congregations collectively prayed for all homeless people and for the commitment to end homelessness in our community.
Participation in the Sabbath meant sharing:
- a prepared prayer or reading as part of a service,
- holding a drive for blankets or other necessities,
- performing a short play or
- incorporating the theme of homelessness into a holiday display or live scene.
Registered congregations received materials to help make their participation as simple as possible during this busy holiday season.