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Mitzvot in Medford: Temple Shalom

By Paul Rowe

Each spring just before the holiday of Purim begins, the congregation of the Temple Shalom gathers to participate in a cherished tradition known as mishloach manot, the communal giving of gifts of food for friends and neighbors. This selflessness celebrated by a diverse population is an important ideal within Medford's rich cultural traditions. The Temple Shalom brings people together, no matter what they seem to lack in common.

"Temple Shalom is a diverse community that includes seniors, young families, empty-nesters, and single adults," says President Steve Gold. "We gather for ritual and social activities, including regular religious services for children and adults, family programs such as story-time and sing-alongs, adult education classes, a monthly women's discussion group, chess games, and community dinners."

Mishloach manot unites Medford citizens from ages six to eighty-six to bake over a thousand homemade hamentashen (triangular jelly-filled pastries), wrap dried fruit, chocolate, and nuts, and place it all into gift boxes. Synagogue volunteers then personally deliver these thoughtful gift boxes to the front door of every member of the synagogue.

Temple Shalom also organizes numerous community service projects each year. "Every Yom Kippur, we collect hundreds of pounds of food donations from our members and deliver it to local food pantries," says Gold. "At Thanksgiving, synagogue members spend a day in our kitchen making apple pies from scratch for the Medford Family Network to deliver to Medford families in need."

Temple Shalom's burgeoning Religious School provides education for grades pre-K through six. The diverse student body here learns the Hebrew language, Jewish values, Bible stories, and Jewish history, among many other topics.

"Several times a year, all of the classes join together with their teachers and parents for a fun-filled family learning day complete with discussion groups, stories, skits, and hands-on-activities," says Gold. "The students have made Challah to celebrate Shabbat, and hamentashen for Purim. For the holidays of Passover and Tu B'Shevat, our students participate in model seders (ceremonial meals) specific to each holiday's traditions."

The most important lessons children learn at the Religious School are perhaps taught once at year on an important day dedicated to learning about mitzvot, or good deeds.

"This year, we hosted a sorting day with Boston-based Cradles to Crayons," says Gold. "After collecting new and gently used children's items for 2 weeks, students and parents gathered one Sunday morning to inspect, sort, and prepare the donations for distribution."

Only through practicing mitzvot together could these Medford youths help serve over four hundred children in need.

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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