Kehillat Wise at Stephen S. Wise Temple is an initiative empowering congregants to help other congregants during this current economic crisis. The most severe economic recession since the Great Depression has created various levels of distress for almost everyone. Some already bear the brunt of home foreclosures, unemployment and loss of savings. Others anticipate the ripple effect of a downward spiral and worry whether they and their families will be next. The worst effects of this economic crisis are not material (though none of us are dismissive of that reality); rather, the most profound effects involve feelings of insecurity; the loss of trust and hope; the emotional experience of isolation; and rising anxiety about the future. As personal loss of home, job or savings is internalized, sadly, many people also experience an unwarranted sense of shame.
The Stephen S. Wise Temple Kehillat Wise project takes its name from the Kehillah, which was the name of the medieval Jewish community which existed in Christian Europe and was semi-autonomous in its self-regulation. The Kehillah was the community and everyone in it was responsible for everyone else. Sometimes, a helping hand was extended, but with the understanding that the helping hand was to get people back on their feet. So too, the Kehillat Wise Project here at Stephen S. Wise Temple is an opportunity for us to help each other, congregant to congregant, neighbor to neighbor and friend to friend.
Kehillat Wise consists of seven sub-groups which include mental health, career, finance, law, real estate, volunteerism and physical health & fitness. Each group has a public resource list (refereed to as Directory of Communal Resources) as well as a list of congregants who specialize in their field and are offering their services either pro bono or at a drastically reduced cost (referred to as Congregants Helping Congregants). These materials are posted on our website for anyone to directly contact congregants or obtain the resource information anonymously. We also post relevant news and current events under each sub-group.
In addition, we hold events, panel discussions, and workshops most applicable to our congregants. For example, in our Real Estate division, we hold panel discussions with industry experts. With our Career division, we have had very successful panel discussions that have led us to conduct a variety of career-oriented workshops through the year as well as a follow-up career panel discussion upgraded for the next level.
The vision for our Kehillat Wise initiative is "community helping community", and that is exactly what is happening here at Stephen S. Wise Temple. It is inspiring that even as the economy continues to struggle, our congregants increasingly band together. We are constantly providing high-level programs and resources that evolve with our Congregant's needs. Our main page can be found at http://www.wisela.org/temple/kehillat.aspx On the left side navigation panel are the sub-groups including our Pastoral Care. Each sub-group web page contains all the events, news, one-on-one directories and public resource list in the "Highlights" section.