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Going above and beyond to honor our vets

Those who have served in the United States armed forces have devoted their lives to going above and beyond for our country. Veterans Day is a time to acknowledge their service and to go above and beyond for them.

And JCCs and other organizations can be a big part of that. Through the #goaboveandbeyond initiative, they have a chance to show their appreciation for U.S. veterans, and make them feel welcome in the community.

“JCCs have such incredible reach, and can provide not only programming, but real substantial connections for our veterans and their families,” says Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky, deputy director for programming, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. “But this isn’t limited to JCCs. Any organization can be a part of go above and beyond, and we want to encourage them to do so.”

JCC Association is encouraging JCCs and other faith-based and community organizations to go beyond thanking troops for their service on Nov. 11, by participating in and hosting #goaboveandbeyond programming.

There are many ideas in the Project Welcome Home Veterans Day Programming Guide, which Sharofsky developed to assist JCCs in doing outreach to veterans and their families.

The booklet includes programming suggestions, resources and ideas tailored to different ages and requiring different levels of preparation and planning. Some ways organizations can participate include hosting a veteran for Shabbat dinner, having a local synagogue give a veteran an aliyah, participating in a service project for veterans, hearing veterans tell their story and then helping to share it on social media, or in other ways.

Whatever you do, be sure to share it using the #goaboveandbeyond.

Additionally #goaboveandbeyond will extend beyond Veterans Day, as part of a crowdfunding campaign to raise $10,000 for JWB endorsed chaplains who go above and beyond each day for our troops. Each chaplain has a $600 discretionary fund that allows him or her to pay for food for Shabbat dinners for Jews in the military, other expenses related to holiday and Shabbat programming and attending movement-specific conferences and educational programs. The campaign will launch on the Sunday following Veterans Day, and wind up on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29.

And as we celebrate the centennial of the JCC Movement, which began with the founding of the Jewish Welfare Board—and continues through JWB Jewish Chaplains Council today—look for ways that #goaboveandbeyond will crop up during the course of the year.

Meanwhile for Veterans Day, help spread the word.

“Wouldn’t it be great if every JCC was able to show our veterans how they matter,” Sharofsky says. “They can lead the way in their communities, and spread the message beyond the doors of the JCC.”

Ways to #goaboveandbeyond

You don’t have to have a full-blown event with a speaker to show how our veterans matter. Here are some quick ideas for JCCs and other organizations to take part. Don’t forget to post what you do to social media with #goaboveandbeyond. Let everyone in your community—and beyond—know why our vets matter:

  • Have kids in the JCC’s early childhood program either dress up in red, white and blue, or hold colored pieces of paper, to create a human American “flag” for a photo
  • Record a patriotic song like America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee), America the Beautiful, Star Spangled Banner (the national anthem), God Bless America, and record it
  • Make blue star banners for families with deployed family members
  • Bake challah and deliver it to the local VA, the Jewish War Veterans or other veterans group in the community
  • Offer free classes for vets during November
  • Quiz your staff on military ranks, and post to social media
  • Send thank you postcards to the troops. You can send them to:
    JWB Jewish Chaplains Council | c/o Rabbi Abbi Sharofsky
    520 Eighth Avenue, 4th floor
    New York, N.Y. 10018
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