Shabbat Shalom: Extending Our Hands to Help

May 18, 2023 | Article, JCRC

Shabbat Shalom: Extending Our Hands to Help

May 18, 2023

By: Dan Leshem, PhD
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Director

This past winter the Colorado Jewish community did something amazing. Within two weeks of learning that Denver (and ultimately the entire state) was seeing dozens of migrants arriving daily with no warning and no systems in place capable of addressing the massive need for shelter, warm clothes, and other basic supplies, the JCRC, Temple Emanuel and the entire Jewish community galvanized around their cause. Over the following six weeks, over 1,000 volunteers from more than 60 diverse organizations sorted, packed and donated over 5,000 boxes of desperately needed supplies to the city to provide emergency support to these migrants and refugees. You can read more about those efforts here.

Tragically, today we find ourselves in a very similar situation. Over the past few weeks, thousands of additional migrants and refugees have found themselves stranded in our state without sufficient resources to house, feed, and support them. You can learn more about this through coverage in the Denver Post, here and here, and on 9News. Once again, our friends at the Denver Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships have turned to the Jewish community to help them provide desperately needed support. Whereas last January the biggest need was for winter clothing, this time around the primary needs are around food and water.

Once again, Temple Emanuel has stepped up to offer its space, staff, and lay leadership to lead this effort. We owe them a major debt of gratitude for helping us all perform the mitzvot of caring for the stranger, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked. We are asking each of you to help over the next few weeks and months in any or multiple of the following ways:

  • Donate your time and energy to staff the collection, sorting, and packaging work at Temple Emanuel
  • Purchase something off the Amazon wish list below that will go directly to these efforts
  • Donate food, drinks, and sanitary items from the below list and bring them to Temple on either Monday evenings from 5-8pm or at Friday night or Saturday morning services
  • Collect these items at the diverse Jewish and community organization you are connected to and make arrangements to have them delivered to Emanuel Mondays 5-8pm.
  • Please also consider supporting the Newcomers Fund managed by Rose Community Foundation in partnership with city and state leadership (linked below). 

None of us can fix this situation on our own, and together—as a unified community—we can.

It is no coincidence that this week we read the Torah portion Bamidbar, in which G-d commands Moses to conduct a census of the Jewish people as they wander through the desert. While ancient and modern censuses ideally function to ensure representation in decision-making and in the allocation of resources, any act of counting is also an act of selection: who gets counted and who is left out, certain people are seen, counted, and recorded while others are not. Each census challenges us to see the faces and hear the voices of those who are excluded, left unheard, and ignored. Who in our communities counts and who tends to be there but unseen? Who would like to come in and be a part but does not feel invited? Whose hunger do we respond to and whose do we tune out?

Over and over the Torah tells us to remember that we were slaves in Egypt. Why? One explanation is to remind us that no one makes it to where they are without help. Just like we were slaves, completely dependent and in need of help, so too can we, in G-d’s image, extend our hands and provide shelter under our wings to those who have been unseen: the outsiders knocking on our doors.

Volunteer opportunities:

Starting next Monday 5/22 Temple Emanuel will be hosting a donation gathering and sorting event. We are asking our entire community and Jewish community organizations to share this call for volunteers and participation. Please use this link to sign up for a shift.  

Amazon Wish List:

Purchase something off this Amazon wish list that will go directly to these efforts.


Nutrition/hydration kits
All items must be individually wrapped, single serving, and non-perishable

  • Bottled water   
  • Electrolyte powder packs  
  • Protein – Protein bars, Clif bars, tuna or chicken salad w/ crackers, meat sticks, jerky 
  • Salty – Nuts, seeds, trail mix, peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers 
  • Sweet – dried fruit, raisins, fruit pouches (e.g., applesauce)      

Hygiene kits
ll items must be travel-size, individually wrapped, new, and unopened 

  • Soap  
  • Deodorant  
  • Toothpaste  
  • Toothbrush  
  • Shampoo 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Lip balm 

Other items 

  • Diapers  (sizes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6)  
  • Baby wipes  
  • Underwear - New Only, Men’s, Size Small – boxers   
  • Underwear - New Only, Men’s, Size Small – briefs 
  • Underwear - New Only, Women’s, Size Small :  

Project support items 

  • Slider Ziplock bags, gallon size – 4500 
  • Moving boxes, Size Small only  - 500 

Monetary Donations

Please also consider supporting the Newcomers Fund managed by Rose Community Foundation in partnership with city and state leadership. The fund supports Colorado nonprofits providing essential services including emergency shelter, transitional housing, basic needs including food and clothing, and wraparound services including translation and interpretation services.

Please email Dan Leshem at with questions or comments.