If you see a large, paper menorah at your synagogue, it’s probably part of the “Giving Chanukkiah” program of Tikkun Ha-Ir, the local social justice organization.
You can pluck a candle from the Chanukkiah – at most, but not all participating synagogues, they’re in a nearby pouch – and the candle will have a note on it describing what kind of gift to buy.
You can then purchase the gift, bring it in and voila – you’ve helped!
“People in these situations don’t think that they are thought of very much,” said Tikkun Ha-Ir Executive Director Sami Stein Avner. “We want them to know that we are thinking of them, that they are worthy of having gifts at holiday times.”
Tikkun Ha-Ir requests that the donated gifts be new and unwrapped. Tikkun Ha-Ir used to wrap the gifts, but that’s no longer what partnering agencies are looking for. They need unwrapped gifts for their “free” stores, so that gifts can be picked out. Avner said this provides “more dignity for the family.”
Eight synagogues are participating with “giving” chanukkiahs – Congregation Anshai Lebowitz, Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid, Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun, Congregation Shalom, Congregation Shir Hadash, Congregation Sinai, Lake Park Synagogue and Temple Menorah. “We try to put it in a prominent spot,” Avner said.
At each synagogue, there’s typically a bin next to the paper Chanukkiah for gifts purchased – you can put your gift there.
You can also give financially, knit scarves or hats, or otherwise support Tikkun Ha-Ir’s efforts. Visit Thi-Milwaukee.org for more information.