Beth David Congregation is a community. We share many happy moments and events. But what happens when a member of our community needs more than a mazel tov. Of course, our clergy are there to help. But did you know we also have a “caring community group”?
Whether it’s during a family illness or after a death in the family, nine times out of ten we are told, “No, we have everything we need.” We often suspect that help is needed, but don’t want to intrude.
Unfortunately, some things you learn by being there. So for those of us who have benefited from the caring community, we have a list of what we now know or suspect:
For those needing help:
- Figure out what you need. This sounds easy, but it’s not when you are faced with dozens of tasks and are sure you are the only one who can handle them. And they all need to be done RIGHT NOW. Make a list of errands, phone calls, chores. Sort and prioritize. What can be offloaded to someone else? What can be done later? What can be postponed indefinitely or really doesn’t have to be done at all?
- Let go of control. You have a management problem: you need to delegate. A neighbor offers to do grocery shopping. Well, you think, I need to pick out my own bananas so they are ripe enough so Joey will eat them, and green enough so they’ll keep a few days. Let it go! The fate of the world does not hang on the ripeness of your bananas.
- Escape the tyranny of the “should. ”You’ll find yourself saying, “I should be able to do this. I should be able to cope.” Well, you need help; so ask for it. And let us add that you don’t need to buy into the ideal of self-reliance. We think we must stand on our own two feet, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, etc. You know the clichés. But that’s what they are – clichés – and not reality.
- Don’t compare. You may have friends who managed just fine all by themselves. That doesn’t mean that you can or should when there are caring people who are offering to help. You are different people with different challenges, and your circumstances are not the same – even if they may look similar.
- Take care of yourself as much as you can. This is the advice most often given and hardest to follow. Do what you can. Don’t let this become another should. But if you can manage even a 5-minute nap or a ten-minute walk, do it.
- Finally, don’t feel you are imposing. The volunteers of Caring Community want to help. Let them do a mitzvah. It’s a blessing for both you and us.
For those offering help (whether through Caring Community or on your own):
- Don’t take it personally if your offer is turned down. It’s appreciated even if it’s not accepted.
- Be persistent but not intrusive. The person may not need help this week but may need it next week. Ask again.
- Be creative. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What kind of help would be meaningful? Could you take the kids for a couple of hours? Keep them company for an hour or two? Make phone calls? Listen and stay open to clues for what’s needed.
- You don’t have to do anything big to make a difference. A neighbor who calls and says, “I’m going to the (supermarket, drug store, drycleaners); do you need anything?” is worth his weight in gold.
In the past year, Beth David Caring Community has provided meals for the families of folks just out of the hospital and with the flu, sent meals and challahs to shiva homes for Friday night, and provided rides to and from doctor appointments.
While we see what needs to be done and could be done, Caring Community does not have enough resources to do it all. Can you help? We are asking congregation members to help us by being added to the Caring Community volunteer list, and by stating the kinds of services you might like to provide. We look forward to the usual gratifying response from you, our fellow congregants. We won’t call upon you often, and many of the “assignments” are small, but whatever you do will make a difference to make Beth David’s community a caring one. Thank you.
For more information contact Our Executive Director, Jill Cooper