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Neighborhood Report: Bayshore Gardens

Synagogue hopes to adopt Israeli family

Congregation Rodeph Sholom is in the process of raising money to personalize its support for Israelis.

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 17, 2003


Within a month, maybe two, Congregation Rodeph Sholom expects to send financial and emotional support to an Israeli family living with terrorism on a daily basis. They will be matched through a program called Adopt-a-Family.

Tomorrow, the Bayshore Boulevard synagogue will hear how the program works when Audrey Kadis, director of Adopt-a-Family, speaks during the 9:30 a.m. Sabbath services. Adopt-A-Family is part of the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund.

Organizer Doon Weinbren said the program has a dual purpose: to let Israelis know that people care about them and to personalize their daily living conditions for members of the Tampa congregation.

"It puts a face to the victim, instead of just hearing about a family of five on the news," said Weinbren. "Their picture will be in the lobby and everyone will know who they are. We'll arrange for flowers and bread to be delivered every Sabbath."

About 200 families have already been adopted. Arrangements are made by organizers of the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund.

"There's a three-year minimum commitment, and longer if we can afford it and they still need our help," said Weinbren.

A synagogue member who speaks Hebrew will be the primary contact person. Eventually, the religious school students will write letters and send cards. Congregants who travel to Israel may visit the family.

Rabbi Marc Sack heard about Adopt-a-Family from a rabbi in Nattick, Mass. He spoke of that community's response during his Yom Kippur sermon.

So far, the 550-member congregation has raised $1,300. It needs to raise at least $5,000 before it is assigned a family.

"Hope to pull on some heart strings," said Linda Wilson, the synagogue's director of development. "We're already 20 percent there."

Wilson has discussed a walk-a-thon and selling parking spaces during the High Holidays. Donors can designate the Adopt-a-Family Fund to make a contribute in memory or honor of a loved one.

Call Wilson at 837-1911 or visit the Adopt-A-Family Web site at www.walk4israel.org for information.

-- Amy Scherzer can be reached at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com .

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