The Chesed committee is a key aspect of a well functioning Shul. Typical Chesed committee activities include helping families when there is a new baby, when there is a death in the family, and during other times when a family needs extra support. The main activity our Chesed committee provides is cooking meals for the family. When there is a new baby, the Chesed committee typically provides meals for one Shabbos. When there is a death in the family the committee provides dinner for the family for the entire week of Shiva if needed.
The first task is to find out what are the food requirements of the family. Are there any special diet requirements? What do the kids like to eat? Special kashrus requirements? This is usually done via a phone call by one of the Chesed committee heads.
The next task is to get the members of the Shul to cook the required meal. Typically people would provide a course of the meal, i.e. the main course, a salad or a side dish. The committee members call or are called by friends of the family to ask if they could participate. This is followed by calls to those members who were usually glad to cook for any family. The last step was to fill in the meal gaps. Some calls were made, but the committee heads usually took the role of filling in the gaps because it was easier then making calls.
About a year ago, it was suggested to the committee heads that they should use a Google Doc online spreadsheet to coordinate the meals. The suggestion was adopted and now the procedure is to create a spreadsheet with the date and meals that will be provided. An email is then sent with a link to the spreadsheet. The members then fill in the spreadsheet with the dishes they commit to preparing. As a result of this process, more people now participate in this important Chesed without the requirements of phone calls.
Thanks to the fine folks at and Google for providing this great resource and improving our Shul’s Chesed activities!
2 thoughts on “Google Shareable Spreadsheet Drives Chesed Uptick”
An online spreadsheet can make things easier. However, our committee found there was a potential breach of privacy for example by letting everyone see (a) which balabustas are cooking meals, (b) whose meal sheet is still empty, (c) how much help someone needs. Also a few of our members are not electronically connected so while it is a bit more work, we prefer the phone method. Within the chessed committee about 4 members share a different – private – spreadsheet which tracks when someone last made a meal, whether they prefer to cook for weekday or Shabbat and other preferences, and if they can make a same-day meal on short notice. We also only add them to the resource spreadsheet after specifically asking if they want to be called.
Good points Miriam. We’ve leaned towards the efficiency trade-off.
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