As part of the Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, CMI opens its doors to our neighbors in need of temporary housing during the winter. This year, we again will be hosting clients of Columbus House’s homeless shelter in January, as part of our annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Volunteers cook a meal, work an evening or overnight shift and make these individuals’ cold nights a bit brighter with a warm word and a smile.
Annual High Holy Day Food Drive
Our high school youth group, MITYOR, conducts this food drive each year for Jewish Family Services’ Food Pantry. Bags are handed out on Rosh Hashanah and everyone is asked to return them on Yom Kippur with nonperishable food items. Over 2,700 pounds of food are collected.
Habitat for Humanity
Adults and teens from CMI participate in Habitat for Humanity builds in the greater New Haven area. Our last house with Sleeping Giant Build was completed in 2010.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Tribute
The tradition of CMI’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service began as a way of celebrating the contribution of Dr. King to our community and our nation, and as a way of honoring his memorable visit here as a guest speaker on October 20, 1961. Since then, a range of local clergy and activists, including Reverend Jerry Streets, Rev. Dr. Michael Christensen, Imam Abdul Majid Hasan, Professor Clarence Hardy, John Daniels (then Mayor-elect), Yale President Richard Levin, and Amistad Master William Pinkney, have come to speak about the interface of religion and civil rights. In 1998, rather than a speaker, CMI offered a musical tribute to Dr. King, featuring Jazz pianist Warren Byrd and CMI member and bassologist David Chevan, who presented a program fusing Jewish and African music.
The Mitzvah Mall is a longstanding annual tradition at CMI, co-sponsored by the Religious Education and Social Action Committees. In a 2 hour time period, thousands of dollars are raised for local and national charities, including Clifford Beers Health Clinic, Clearwater Initiative, Columbus House, Connecticut Food Bank, Friends of New Haven Animal Shelter, Integrative Refugee and Immigrant Services, Jewish Family Services, Jewish Home for the Aged, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, LEAP, The Diaper Bank, REMEDY, and Tower One/Tower East. The Mall gives congregants and members of the community the opportunity to experience the true meaning of tzedakah during the holidays. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn that they can help others, that there are people (and animals) in need, and that there are agencies in the area that help them and need our help to do so.
Peace & Justice
CMI hosts an annual Peace & Justice Service, a tradition started in 1967 by CMI’s Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, as a way to educate and challenge the community. Prolific notables such as Daniel Ellsberg, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Jay Lifton, Julian Bond, Howard Fast, Paul Robeson, Jr., Linda Greenhouse, Arthur Miller and William Sloane Coffin, Jr. have explored provocative issues such as the economic consequences of war, gay and lesbian rights, racial discrimination, governmental use of torture, and the rights of Palestinians.
Before the “simple foods” movement, there was the Pe’ah project! Started in 1990 and located behind the synagogue, the organic garden has 15 plots with half of the crops harvested for area soup kitchens and the other half for personal use. Over a ton of vegetables are donated each year. The CMI “farmers” are joined by fellow gardeners from the Unitarian Society and Presbyterian Church. They begin the planting season with study of the Biblical and Rabbinic laws of giving and implement these over the course of the summer. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet other synagogue families and contribute to a community mitzvah by supporting the soup kitchens over the summer and fall months.