Social motion at Rodef Shalom takes it to the subsequent stage

Salem Leaman knows a thing or two about Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of fixing the world. And that is exactly the modus operandi of his work as chairman of the new Committee for Community Action and Social Action of the Rodef Shalom Congregation, better known as COSA.

“One of the main goals – and it’s hard to achieve in a pandemic – is to bring people together and create boots on the ground,” said Leaman, a Boston-bred department store worker who first moved to Pittsburgh in 1984. “It comes from the Torah: ‘Take care of the stranger, take care of the stranger in your midst. ‘

“When you join a faith,” he added, “be it Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, those commitments are found in the scriptures of all major Western faiths. It is humanity. ”

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COSA has achieved a lot in Pittsburgh since its inception in October. Its members ran a winter coat ride for Gisele Fetterman’s Pennsylvania Free Store, Bradisock, and managed to collect more than 200 coats and related merchandise, including members hand-knitted hats. Afterward, members ran a toy drive on vacation with Holy Cross Church, an episcopal ward in Homewood, picking up around $ 1,000 worth of toys and gift cards for the season.

When the committee failed to focus on these two actions – both exceeded original expectations, Leaman said – it also recruited members from Rodef Shalom to volunteer for the Jewish Family Refugee Aid Program and community services.

“That had to be done for us to do it,” Leaman told the Chronicle.

A collaborative “summary” of the group’s existence provides even more context.

“Rodef Shalom has a good reputation and a presence in our city. We should do more, both as a church and as individual members of that church, to live up to that call, ”the summary says. “Our members should be in the ward seeking peace under the RSC banner. We should be seriously committed to the black, Latin American and poor white communities. “

Particularly after the Tree of Life building massacre, the community is determined to have an ongoing program to thank and help the greater Pittsburgh gentile community in “meaningful ways,” the summary reads.

The next act in the group? A food drive with the East End Cooperative Ministry. In the synagogue, COSA will – with dates yet to be confirmed – accept donations of non-perishable food and canned goods or funds in the form of VISA or MasterCard gift cards, Leaman said.

Rodef Shalom Rabbi Aaron Bisno said he was incredibly proud of how COSA is taking the Tikkun Olam message to a new level.

“Tikkun Olam, repairing our world, is central to understanding what it means to be Jewish,” Bisno told the Chronicle. “All the more so, at this time when we all feel so isolated from one another, the meaning of Tikkun Olam brings us together and brings our world back to its entirety.” PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh.

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