Temple Jeremiah, a Reform synagogue in Northfield, invites the North Shore community to partner with temple members to explore and fight hunger in our community for a three-day Hunger Summit Dec. 6-8. The temple will host activities throughout the weekend, culminating in a panel of U.S. and state legislators, including Representatives Brad Schneider and Jan Schakowsky.
The weekend will include a presentation on food insecurity in our community from the Northern Illinois Food Bank on Friday night during 8 p.m. Shabbat worship; a showing of the award-winning film “A Place at the Table,” followed by a discussion led by Feeding America on Saturday at 4 p.m.; and a legislative panel on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Sunday’s panel, moderated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, will discuss the issues of hunger nationally and locally. Panelists include Representatives Brad Schneider (10th) and Jan Schakowsky (9th), State Senators Daniel Biss and Julie Morrison, and State Representatives Laura Fine, Elaine Nekritz, and Scott Drury.
“The point of this weekend is for all of us to come together and communicate with our legislators and advocate for change,” said Barb Miller, co-chair of Temple Jeremiah’s social action committee. “It goes beyond religious lines – this is about helping our neighbors.”
Miller said the idea for the Hunger Summit came to her after she helped lead congregants to make about 6,000 lunches per year for 18 years through Feed the Homeless, a monthly program where adults and kids make lunches to donate to those in need.
“All of a sudden it clicked – this is terrible,” she said. “We’re feeding more people every day and this isn’t getting better. It continues to be important for us to provide these lunches, but we need to go one step further – we have to find our voice and work with the government to make a change, or at least bring awareness to the problem.”
Summit participants will be provided with a list of their local and federal legislators and how to contact them, as well as links to organizations and other resources.
“We fulfill the ethical mandate of Torah by caring for the needy in such a way they can sustain themselves,” said Rabbi Paul F. Cohen, senior rabbi at Temple Jeremiah and president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. “This weekend is designed to show how adding to the direct services we provide, our voice in local, state, and federal politics can shape a world where such direct services will no longer be necessary.”
“It’s a rare opportunity to have seven legislators from the state and federal levels in a face-to-face dialogue where you can talk to them and express your opinion,” Miller said. “The solution to the issue of hunger is all levels of government working in partnership with communities.”