Sinai Seeks To Help in Pakistan

For all my Western Mass. friends, relatives and readers, Sinai Temple is looking to help out in Pakistan via the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts. A letter from Rabbi Shapiro:


Dear Sinai –

The floods that have struck Pakistan constitute what we at Sinai have always defined as a “world crisis.” Lives lost; homes and villages swept away; shortages of food, water, and clothing. Pakistan is a disaster.


After reading about Pakistan’s plight over a number of days, I suddenly realized that some of our friends here in the Springfield area are involved. I am referring to the members of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts. Sinai has dialogued with members of the Islamic Society. We have visited their mosque; they have visited us for our worship. I myself meet with leaders of the mosque on a monthly basis at the Interfaith Council of Massachusetts.

And members of the mosque are taking the Pakistan flooding personally.

Some have relatives in the affected areas; others simply feel a sense of solidarity the way we Jews feel solidarity with other Jews around the world.

A final ingredient:
Many of you have probably read about the controversy surrounding the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan. I am totally in favor of this initiative. I’ve read about the leader of the mosque. He is a gentleman of impeccable reputation. He has a special interest in interfaith activities.

What’s more, since this is America, it seems incredible that religious freedom would not be extended to those who choose to build a house of worship wherever they wish.

I have to imagine that our friends at the mosque here in Springfield feel horrible when they hear some of the talk against the mosque in New York City. Add that to their concern for their fellow Moslems in Pakistan. And I am feeling that we at Sinai must respond to the flooding.

I’ve spoken to Dr. Bajwa, who is one of the mosque’s leaders, and he tells me that they would welcome contributions for flood relief. (I’ve also checked the charities he mentions and it seems to me that they are bona fide charities to which we would feel comfortable giving.)




I thank you for helping Sinai reach out to the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts. I will send our relief check to the Society next week.

Please act quickly.

Thank you,
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro

Say Yes seeks volunteers

Cross-posted from 40 Below Civic Engagement.

Please help us celebrate; it's time to highlight the many positive ways young people are impacting our community!

Approximately 1800 "Say Yes to Education" summer camp students will demonstrate new skills they have learned, talents they have developed and creativity they have unleashed throughout their 2010 "Say Yes" summer camp experiences at the Say Yes Summer Festival Wednesday, July 28th at Thornden Park.

We have a tremendous need for many volunteers to ensure a fun, safe, and successful event for our campers and their families!

Whether it's set up or break down, assisting in the information tent, or helping with an activity, we could use whatever time and effort you have available. Set up will begin at 7 AM, event will run from 9-2 and break down of the event will promptly follow.

We are specifically looking for corporate, community based organizations and other not-for-profit volunteer teams!

For more information contact Monica Richardson of Prevention Network at 315-471-1359, or log onto and follow the Summer Festival Link.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

American Diabetes Association Seeks Board Member

This is cross-posted from the 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force blog. What strikes me about this board position is that the metrics are well-defined. You don't just have to show up to meetings and generally support and promote the organization. If you can't raise $1,500, you're responsible for donating it, etc.


Position Name: Leadership Board – at large member
Job Summary: The Leadership Board–Corporate Development member provides access to resources or constituents important to accomplishment of ADA’s mission
Reporting Line: Position reports to Chair/President of the Board
Time Commitment: 4 hours per month from Sept. 1, 2010 – Dec. 31, 2010; Two year term, repeatable for up to 2 years
Corp Recruitment member is responsible for:

  • Understanding the American Diabetes Association’s mission and programs
  • Attending the local Leadership Board, which meets 4 per year
  • Securing financial and/or volunteer support from the community and/or own company
  • Utilize community contacts to support priority events

Raising Dollar Commitment:

  • Market's financial goal for the fiscal year is $.5 million
  • Raise or personally contribute $1,500 or locate a corporate sponsor(s) of equal value
  • Generate support from own company or organization for priority fund-raising events; i.e., Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes and The Tour de Cure.
  • Participate in at least one fund-raising event and serve on one Executive Committee

Recruiting Volunteers Commitment:

  • Recommending an assisting in recruitment of potential event or committee member throughout the year
  • Use existing relationships to leverage opportunities and open doors to support ADA in reaching its market's goals
  • Identify at least one non-participating company and create access for ADA

Reaching People Commitment:

  • Participate in at least one program/advocacy event
  • Work to create relationships with new corporations

Candidate Profile:

  • Lives or works in the board area
  • Possesses resources and contacts that can help impact the success of the local ADA

Staff Resources:

Director: Tom Czajak (315) 438-8687 x3666,

Some Facts About Diabetes

» Total: 23.6 million children and adults in the United States—7.8% of the population—have diabetes.
» Diagnosed: 17.9 million people
» Undiagnosed: 5.7 million people
» Pre-diabetes: 57 million people
» New Cases: 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older each year.

Involvement Fair 4 heads downtown May 27


40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force Brings Fourth Involvement Fair Downtown
Event to bring together non-profit organizations and volunteers across Central New York

Syracuse, NY — The 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force is pleased to announce the fourth Central New York Involvement Fair, Thursday, May 27 from 4 until 7:30 p.m. at SUNY Oswego Metro Center, 2 Clinton Square, Syracuse. The fair will be followed by a networking event hosted by Syracuse First at Al's Wine & Whiskey, 321 S. Clinton St., Syracuse..

The Involvement Fair is a place for local volunteers to find non-profits to become involved with. Picture a job fair, but instead of company recruiters sitting behind tables collecting resumes from nervous students, the tables are staffed by passionate non-profit volunteers or employees, and the people walking around are local residents looking to engage in their communities.

The first three involvement fairs, held at Drivers Village, Le Moyne College and Pensabene's, have been hugely successful for area agencies and organizations, and bringing the event downtown will only mean easier access for more area residents.

There is a nominal table charge for non-profits (RSVP required), and the event is free to attend for anyone looking for volunteer opportunities (no RSVP needed).

The networking event at Al's, hosted by local non-profit organization Syracuse First, will feature food and drink specials for Involvement Fair vendors and attendees with name badges. The event is free to attend.

Local media outlets, non-profit organizations and anyone wishing to attend are invited to contact Civic Engagement Task Force co-chairs Kelly Bayne and Josh Shear at the information below. The task force website is

Kelly Bayne:
Josh Shear:

Beardless thank yous

It was early February, and the beard had grown out of control. People told me I looked homeless. If I chewed my food, I chewed it with hair. If I drank anything, a layer stayed behind on my mustache. The sports editor at the newspaper never missed a chance to ask when I was getting rid of it. And co-workers at my new company were wondering if I actually did have a face under there.

OK, so that's a little melodramatic. I grew a beard. And the reason I grew a beard, to help cure childhood cancer? Yeah, those kids have a lot more to worry about than I ever did. All I did was get up in the morning and not shave.

As of the shave date, the Josh's Beard project had raised $2,679 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation (some donations and t-shirt sales are still outstanding). The Kitty Hoynes event on Sunday drew over $300,000 for the foundation.

It was amazing.

For my part, I have some thank yous to make for some individual fundraisers.

» The #Syracuse/#CNY Twitter community
» Jen at She Takes The Cake
» Chris K for #100Tweets100Bucks
» Tracy T and Matt T for #NutellaFest and #SHUTITDOWN
» Data Key Communications LLC for a large cash donation
» Assault City Roller Derby, Palace Theatre and Jeffrey Meyer/Brew & View

And everybody who donated, said, "That's awesome!" and ran a hand through the beard, even if you were just looking for Jimmy Hoffa.

Cupcakes for Cancer

Note: We have eliminated the cake donation not-an-auction.

Hey, want a cupcake? Yes, you really do. Because they're from Jen at She Takes The Cake. And they help beat the snot out of cancer.

Here's the deal: $2.50 per cupcake (order online), you pick 'em up, Jen puts the proceeds toward St. Baldrick's, which makes grants to help fight cancer in children. You can get more info, including a link to order cupcakes via Paypal, on Jen's blog.

Do it. Now.

Eating your words: NutellaFest 2010 raises money for St. Baldrick’s

It started off innocently enough.

He of course meant the Italian hazelnut spread Nutella, but you get the picture. Thing is, Matt said that while drinking Nutella hot chocolate, a pretty mild combination.

Frank called him on it.

Well, we'll see.

So Frank offered to put up $10 for the Josh's Beard project (fighting childhood cancer) if Matt ate meatballs (plural) with Nutella on them.

Matt was thinking sure, we'll have spaghetti and meatballs and I'll put some Nutella on a couple. But then Todd upped the ante.

Tracy, Amanda and Dan also jumped on board for donations.

Here are Tracy's posts:

» The preview
» The proof

And here's the video:

The first $1,000

New Year's Eve saw a windfall for the Josh's Beard project, thanks largely to the efforts of Chris Kirkegaard. Chris reached out to me on Twitter in the morning and said he wanted to try some sort of challenge, so we came up with the 100tweets100bucks challenge, and asked people to post a message to their Twitter accounts.

Bottom line: We started the day at $578 to fund research into childhood cancer, and by the time I woke up in 2010, we had $1,207 – that's $629 in one day.

In case you're not aware of the project, I'm raising money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. They make grants to fund research into cancer in children, and their signature event is called a shave-a-thon. People donate money for their friends to shave their heads.

Since nobody's going to spend money to see me shave the little bit of hair I have, I've decided to grow a beard. I am posting a photo a day and a video a week to show my beard's progress, and, while nobody's taken me up on it, for a larger donation I'll happily wear your t-shirt or hold up your book, do crazy things to my beard (including sticking a business card in it or simply dying it), and generally tell people how wonderful you are, like I'm doing with Chris.

There's also a Facebook page, in case you have photos, videos or things to say about my beard (unless you're the sports editor of the local paper – you're not allowed to tell people how scary my beard is).

So we've hit $1,000. Pretty darn awesome. We're still a long way off from my $25,000 goal, but the momentum is growing. We have a fundraiser scheduled for March, and one in the works for February. I hope you'll get involved by giving if you're able and definitely by spreading the word.

And if you have ideas for getting more money to the organization, email me.

» The first $100
» Introduction to the project

The first $100

Not quite a week after announcing the Josh's Beard project to help raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, we crossed the $100 mark.

That's a long way from my $25,000 goal, but it feels like a milestone. I had been ramping up the project for three weeks, and had been telling friends and family members about it, but talking about the vision is a lot different from getting it implemented.

There are two things I learned right away about getting people to give. The first is you have to make it easy. I managed to filter people to the photo/video blog, but people didn't get that you had to click the text that says "St. Baldrick's Foundation" on the right. That brings you to a page, and then you click donate from there.

So I added a big red "Donate Now" link in the upper right, which actually takes you to the page where you donate. Much easier.

The second is that people love this project. They will tell everybody about it, and in multiple channels. That doesn't mean they have the inclination – or ability – to give. So that's going to be the bigger challenge, I think.

I recorded a new video yesterday asking people to give $18 (it will go on the tumblelog tomorrow). It's the amount represented by the Hebrew word for life. And several people did give.

Another challenge I'm going to face is actually a positive one. I have friends who are going to do it as well. My friend Kim did the event last year; I don't know if she plans to do it again. My friends Lorelei and (another) Kim are also going bald in 2010. So, donations are going to be split. Which is OK with me. I wound up just giving at the event last year, since I had so many friends who were having their heads shaved I couldn't afford to give to everyone's.

What can you do to help?

Well, the obvious answer is donate. But spreading the word is important. I don't need page views or thumbs-up (though it's always nice to hear that what you're doing is appreciated); I need to get in front of eyes that will donate. Send people to; get them to be fans of the Facebook page (and become one yourself).

If you know business owners, authors, musicians, what have you – I'm totally willing to work out an "advertising exchange" – they make an agreed-upon minimum donation, I'll hold up a copy of their book or CD, or flyer, or mention their business in a video. Have them email me.

And of course, follow me on Twitter, I mention it a lot there, and there's always a link to that day's photo.