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New Jewish Partnership for Justice and Service to sponsor Sukkot program

A Sukkah for All: Sukkot, Social Justice & Celebration will take place at The Manheim Park + Garden, 4229 Forest Kansas City, Missouri, by Congregation Kol Ami’s sukkah.

Motivated by their shared Jewish values, JVS, Jewish Family Services (JFS) and Congregation Kol Ami are collaborating to establish a Jewish Partnership for Justice and Service, which hopes to create meaningful opportunities throughout the year that will allow Jews of all ages and observances to celebrate and live out their Jewish values and Judaism’s obligation to repair the world.

The partnership was born out of an identified lack of Jewish social justice programming in Kansas City and a grant from J-LEAD, (Jewish Leadership, Education, Action and Development), a program dedicated to encouraging young Jewish adults in Kansas City to join together to make a substantive impact on the Jewish community. While some Jews today have limited Jewish literacy, are unlikely to join a synagogue, or struggle to find their place in the Jewish community, direct service and holiday celebrations provide a comfortable entry point that speaks to participants’ commitment to social justice and desire to find a like-minded community. Likewise, the connection to Jewish ritual and spiritual life provides a foundation for social justice work that promotes Jewish continuity.

“We believe in the power of collaboration. Together we can leverage our unique strengths such as rabbinic guidance, programmatic expertise, deep relationships in the Jewish community and with marginalized populations in a more meaningful way than any one organization could do alone,” said Don Goldman, executive director and CEO of JFS.

The work of the Jewish Partnership for Justice and Service is centered around three interrelated goals: providing for the needs of refugees in Kansas City, developing Jewish identity around social justice and building community through action, nourished by spiritual sustenance. 

The first program, “A Sukkah for All: Sukkot, Social Justice & Celebration” will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Congregation Kol Ami sukkah located at Manheim Park + Garden, 4229 Forest Kansas City, Missouri. All ages are invited to this free event. The Manheim Park + Garden is a community garden started five years ago by Congregation Kol Ami and the Manheim Park Neighborhood.

Organizers explain that “A Sukkah for All” points out the parallels between Jewish ritual and the refugee crisis. The treatment of refugees entering our country has quickly become a relevant issue in today’s political climate. Jews have historically been agents of change, repairing the world through service and social justice, rooted in, and inspired by, Jewish values, tradition and ritual. The ancient symbolism of Sukkot offers direct parallels to the world refugee crisis of today, making it an opportunity for the Jewish community, who were once themselves refugees, to welcome those without a permanent home of their own into the sukkah, raising awareness and supporting local refugees. The sukkah represents both a safe gathering place and the fragility of the human condition. It is traditional to welcome ushpizin, honored guests, into the sukkah, and this year, the organizers of Jewish Partnership for Justice and Service believe it is especially relevant to welcome our refugee neighbors.

“There are over 20 million refugees worldwide who are searching for a safe place to call home. The sukkah, a symbol of impermanence and vulnerability, reminds us of our own wandering, our own experience of intolerance. We wanted to make the connection to refugees in our community and around the world and say that we welcome you, we want to make room for you, we want to help you make Kansas City your home,” said Hilary Cohen Singer, executive director of JVS. 

The community to this event as well as two others currently planned. Following “A Sukkah for All,” the next event, Justice Shabbat — a human rights Havdalah — will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, and will focus on the intersection of Jewish values and universal human rights.

In 2018, a Community Liberation Seder is set for Saturday, March 31. The communitywide second night seder will focus on both the ancient exodus story of the Jewish people and the modern stories of displacement that still happen.

To RSVP for “A Sukkah for All: Sukkot, Social Justice & Celebration,” visit www.eventbrite.com/e/a-sukkah-for-all-sukkot-social-justice-celebration-tickets-37767158588 or visit the Facebook event on the Facebook pages of Kol Ami (Kol Ami - KC’s Urban Jewish Community), JFS (Jewish Family Serivces of Greater Kansas City) or JVS (Jewish Vocations Service [JVS] Kansas City). For more information about volunteering to serve the refugee community in Kansas City contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..