Tikkun Olam Tuesday: Oklahoma

The pictures coming out of Oklahoma following yesterday afternoon’s tornado are overwhelming. I have lived in the South my entire life, so I have no first-hand experience with tornadoes. The idea of a tornado really strikes fear into my heart like nothing else. I have lived through more hurricanes and nor’easters than I can count and they certainly can leave a lot of substantial devastation in their wake. That being said, tornadoes seem to choose their victims with a humbling randomness and they come with little to no warning; it’s like nothing that I’ve ever known with a hurricane. As I look at this picture, I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel for your house to be full intact while the house next door is leveled (or vice versa). All I can think is, there but for the Grace of G-d go I.

So I’m going to publish the same list of charities that you can find elsewhere on the internet, because beyond donating and praying, I don’t know what else to do. 

Salvation Army
Supporters are encouraged to give online at http://www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a team to Moore, Oklahoma and will respond to the current needs in any way they can.

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, in partnership with Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, is asking that the public support all rescue, recovery and disaster relief efforts with donations of cash to your favorite responding charity. Financial donations will allow disaster relief agencies to purchase whatever items are deemed necessary without resulting in the additional burden of securing warehouse space and volunteers to work donated product.
To make a tax deductible donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, go to http://www.regionalfoodbank.org or call 604-7111 or text FOOD to 32333 to give $10 to relief efforts.

Feeding America
Feeding America will deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to impacted areas through its network of more than 200 food banks and 61,000 agencies. The organization’s food banks will also set up additional dropoff sites.

American Red Cross
People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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Tikkun Olam Tuesday 4/16/13

It seems significant (in my little corner of the world) that Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) should fall on Tuesday, which (in my little corner of the world) is now Tikkun Olam Tuesday. There is much to say about Israel. I don’t necessarily envision this blog as a place to say those things. I think of this blog as a place to talk about what it means to be Jewish in the South. But I suppose that it’s not possible to fully discuss what it’s like to be Jewish anywhere without discussing Israel. That being said, I’m going to have to think a LOT longer before I put all of my thoughts and feelings about Israel onto the internet. And that’s not going to happen today.

Yesterday, I watched the news, filled with stories about bombings and earthquakes and death and tragedy. Today, I listen to Hatikvah and I am filled with hope. Hope for a world repaired. 

Tikkun Olam Tuesday

This is a difficult post for me to write, because it’s hard for me to talk about “ugly” topics. It feels … impolite. My mother didn’t raise me to be impolite. So this is where my Southern upbringing differentiates me and other Southern Jews from our Northern counterparts. My Long Island family members would have no trouble talking openly and loudly about such an unpleasant topic. However this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Remember those two little bunnies from Sunday’s post, well here’s another picture of them:

Sally & Linus

When I look at their sweet faces, it helps me remember why I must speak out against animal testing in cosmetics and beauty products. And that, friends, is what today’s post is about. I am still being a little cowardly, in that this post is not about the horrors of animal testing, but instead, it’s an excuse for me to share good news. You may not know this, but 2013 has been a good year for the fight against animal testing in beauty products!

In the first half of March, the EU law banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals officially went into effect. While there are still some lingering questions about how the Cosmetics Regulation will be interpreted and executed, this is still a wonderful step forward.

I want to believe that government regulation isn’t necessary to stop animal testing on beauty products. I wish the free market could take care of this on its own, but sadly, there is already government regulation in some countries, for example China, that requires brands to test on animals. That’s right, the Chinese government requires brands to test on animals in order to retail in China. Many companies that had been historically cruelty-free began testing their products on animals or paying for 3rd party testing in order to have access to the sizable Chinese market. See this list of beauty brands selling in China. With some governments institutionalizing cruelty, it is necessary that other governmental bodies regulate against this same cruelty.

While I applaud the EU, I also applaud companies that refuse to abide by China’s animal testing mandate and leave the market. There is much to be celebrated here. I eagerly look forward to the day when China approves non-animal cosmetic tests.

I wish I could say that I understand how hard it is to only buy cruelty-free. Many cruelty-free products are not as good as X Brand or more expensive than X Brand or harder to find than X Brand. But you know what, buying only cruelty-free products is not hard. You know what’s hard: being a slave is hard. And we Jews have spent the past 8 days remembering when we were slaves and celebrating that we are no longer slaves. At our Seders we say, “Once we were slaves in Egypt, and now we are free.” The language is clear – the Passover story didn’t just happen to our ancestors, it happened to us. That we who were once slaves would financially support a system that enslaves defenseless bunnies so that we can have better, cheaper, and more readily available mascara, is absurd, inexcusable, and – dare I say – not Jewish. We can do better. It’s really not hard. PETA has done a phenomenal job compiling lists of cruelty-free brands. I understand that many of us, and I include myself in this category, take issue with some of PETA’s methods. If you feel like some of their methods are objectionable, I’m not asking you to give PETA any money, but please take advantage of the information they make freely available. This isn’t about any one organization. It’s about Tikkun Olam.

Ok, maybe I’m not as polite as I like to think I am. But, you know what, I think my mother will forgive me for this lapse in etiquette. After all, she really loves her grandbunnies.