Rabbi’s Review – February 2017

Family Promise

Rabbi Charles K. Briskin


If a community lacked a synagogue and a shelter for the poor, it was first obligated to build a shelter for the poor.” – Sefer Hasidim

Every time I help distribute toys and food to needy families served by Harbor Interfaith Services I am reminded just how lucky I am. I have never been hungry, homeless, or in a place of serious economic insecurity. My parents were always able to provide for me, and today, thankfully, Karen and I are able to provide for our family.

Every time I help these families face-to-face I am reminded that lack of income, lack of access to quality education, a serious illness, or one poor decision can mean the difference between a stable home and something much more uncertain.

Commandments to care for the neediest in our community are at the heart of Jewish tradition. These values compel me to respond when people are in need.

Los Angeles County continues to face a very serious homelessness crisis. We have more homeless neighbors than ever before; available and affordable housing is at its lowest rate in a very long time. Many homeless are invisible to us because they sleep in cars or shuttle from one friend’s living room to another. Many families are suffering because of emergency medical expenses, an unexpected job loss, or are priced out of their homes.

Enter Family Promise—a national program that partners with faith communities to provide emergency short-term housing to unexpectedly homeless families. Using a massive network of volunteers and donated space at churches and synagogues, Family Promise helps to provide stability for families during an unstable moment in their lives.

I am proud that we will be partnering with our friends from five other San Pedro congregations to participate in our first hosting of families served by Family Promise.

The week of March 5–12, we will be collectively responsible for hosting a few families who will reside at the United Methodist Church in San Pedro. Each night a small group of volunteers will be responsible for preparing a healthy home-cooked meal, providing some companionship and sleeping overnight in the church. This is a powerful way to provide connection and community to our neighbors in need. Look at the Family Promise website (FamilyPromise.org) to learn more about this great organization. Please see the back cover and contact me for more information. Look for email sign ups and registration later this month.

The Prophet Isaiah teaches powerfully, “Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, clothe him and do not ignore your own kin.” Let us do our part to bring comfort and dignity to our neighbors in need.