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Finding a Caring Community

March 18, 2013 By:
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The Werner family at Matthew's Bar Mitzvah

Mitzvah Hero: Tracy Werner, 46, has a caring heart, manifested in her involvement in Caring Community, a project created at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, where she is a member.

What It’s All About: K.I.’s Cantor Amy Levy “approached me about establishing Caring Community about three years ago,” with the program’s focus on “people helping people. Our message is to support our congregants’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs in a way that is caring, comfortable and confidential. We seek to match needs with those that can help.” The program includes supportive phone calls to bereaved and ill congregants; providing rides to services, synagogue activities and doctors’ appointments; connecting with families looking for a ‘Bubbe’ or ‘Zayde’ for intergenerational experiences; and providing financial resources,” among other services.

Not a One-Time Thing: Keeping track of Tracy translates into a fulltime job: The Elkins Park resident volunteers for the Jewish Family and Children’s Service; is a board member and diving representative at Springfield Aquatic Club, where her son is a junior Olympic diver; a board member/tournament director, Friends of Cheltenham Community Tennis, where her daughter plays the game; board member of the College Settlement Camp in Horsham; and a former board member of K.I., as well as a member of its Sacred Music Committee and King David Harp Society, among other commitments.

Good for Her: It’s all about reconnecting: “I became more disconnected from Judaism through my college years and early in my interfaith marriage.” (She and husband, Richard, have been wed for 21 years.) “I suspect I am not alone when I share that having children” — daughter Emma is 16; son Matthew, 14 — “brought the subject of my Jewish identity to  the forefront. K.I. has been wonderfully inclusive for my family; this feeling of acceptance has been amplified and expanded through my work with the Caring Community.” A role model on a roll? “I am ‘modeling mitzvot’ on a daily basis, showing my family and community that the mitzvah experience is an unparalleled way to connect with and perpetuate Judaism.”

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