Social Action/Social Justice

We root our action in the social justice values of our Jewish tradition and text.

We engage meaningfully with our neighbors of all faiths in New York City.

We learn from one another and honor our diverse stories and experiences.

We build relationships through individual and community dialogue and conversation.

We concern ourselves with the needs of the B’nai Jeshurun community, the Jewish community, and the city at large.

Religious freedom and political equality, broadminded neighborliness and economic opportunity, these ideals which have become American traditions are ingredients which have gone into the building of B’nai Jeshurun… – Rabbi Israel Goldstein

Part of the BJ contingent, including Roly, at the pre-March rally for marriage equality. Photo Credit: Ariel Schneider

We all long for a just and peaceful world. B’nai Jeshurun maintains an awareness of and a concern for the challenges and injustices we encounter in our society. We can contribute to change and deepen our Jewish practice through this action.

Everyday, many New Yorkers face real and immediate challenges that jeopardize their well-being. In our B’nai Jeshurun community, we face hardships as well. In order for us to begin to address all of these issues, B’nai Jeshurun looks for ways to work with diverse communities across race, class, and religious differences.

B’nai Jeshurun recognizes that there are countless examples of injustice on a global scale. Our community is focusing locally to produce tangible solutions that contribute to broader social justice efforts. As a community, we are called to action, and as Jews we are obligated to respond. Our work together inspires spiritual searching, lifts our souls, and challenges our minds. We strive to experience and express God’s presence as we serve together.

Responding to This Moment

As a faith community, we are called upon to hold ourselves, each other, and our elected leaders accountable for sustaining the core values of our nation, and to bring to bear the moral values of our Jewish tradition and teachings for the benefit of all Americans.

This is not a new focus for us. Grounded in our faith and in the belief that part of our work as members of a Jewish community is to answer the divine call for justice, BJ has long been known for its profound commitment to social responsibility and activism. We have never shied away from asking: what does God demand of us? How to do we best act to champion the values of our tradition? Great spiritual leaders such as Rabbis Stephen S. Wise, Israel Goldstein, and Marshall T. Meyer served our community, reminding us that living up to our moral commitments by standing up for the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the poor, and the stranger in our midst can be risky. We will carry on the tradition of bold action and moral courage at BJ today.

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Ongoing and Upcoming Ways to Engage

Shelter Food Donors and Volunteers Needed

Mondays and Tuesdays | 88th Street Frankel Hall
Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays | 86th Street Social Hall
We are in extra need of food donors and volunteers at the BJ/SPSA Shelter. Signing up for just one meal can be a huge help. Getting involved is easy. For food donors: families, individuals or groups can get together to prepare a light meal for 10-12 people at the synagogue, the church, at home, or even order in a light meal for our guests. Set up shifts are from 7:00-9:00PM and sleepover shifts from 9:00PM-7:00AM. Perform a mitzvah all while sleeping through the night! To sign up or learn more, contact Larissa or call x272.

SPSA/BJ Racial Justice Meeting

Tuesday, March 20 | 7:00PM | BJ Community House 4th Floor

The SPSA/BJ Racial Justice Committee has met a number of times since the fall, and members have been exploring how we want to act together. We have decided upon a number of activities for us to undertake in the general areas of education, direct service, and advocacy.

At this meeting, we will hear reports from the study group, direct service volunteers, and also get further information about the two advocacy projects we have decided to undertake:

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Sustainability and Environmental Committee Kickoff Meeting

Wednesday, March 21 | 6:30-8:30PM | BJ Reception Room 

Join us for the launch of this new committee, which will bring together our environmental advocacy and sustainability work. We are looking for any members interested in environmental work, whether through diving more deeply into how our own community can become more sustainable, or through exploring how we can advocate for better policies in our city and state. All are welcome. Questions? Contact Larissa.

March For Our Lives NYC

Saturday, March 24 | During and following Shabbat morning services | Exact time and locations TBD

Mark your calendar to join BJ in protesting gun violence.

Check back soon for further details—we will update this page as soon as the official march route is publicized.

Combating Climate Change through Fossil Fuel Divestment

Saturday, April 21 | Following kiddush | BJ Chapel

Join BJ environmental advocates and Monica Weiss from NYC for a lunchtime discussion on the topic of divestment from fossil fuels. All are welcome. Questions? Contact Larissa.

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Come to Albany to Lobby for Farmworker Justice

Tuesday, May 15 6:30AM-6:30PM | Departing from Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Avenue
Your voice is important! Join with farmworkers and allies from across New York State to meet with elected officials and lobby on behalf of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act. There has been some movement with the bill and we hope this year we can get it passed.The group will be traveling by bus to Albany, departing from St. John the Divine at 6:30AM. To reserve your spot on the bus (lunch provided), register here. Cost is $20.
Email Paula Galowitz at for more information.

Give the Gift of Life at the BJ Blood Drive

Wednesday, May 16 | 3:00-9:00PM | BJ Sanctuary

Twice a year, we have the opportunity to provide this essential service to the community. Save a life and donate now at the BJ Blood Drive. Learn more about how you can prepare to donate, including any restrictions that may apply. Don’t forget to bring your donor ID card or number (if you have it). Registration coming soon.

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Service and Hospitality: Volunteer with the Judith Bernstein Lunch Program

Thursdays | 11:30AM-1:00PM | 88th Street Frankel Hall
Every Thursday at BJ we welcome guests into our synagogue for a delicious lunch, friendly companionship, and music performed by a BJ member every other week. Join our lunch program by volunteering and taking part in the warm and welcoming atmosphere we offer to our guests. To learn more about this opportunity or to volunteer contact Larissa Wohl or call x272.

Recycling and Composting at BJ: Find Out More Here

We are increasing our efforts to make it easier for our community to recycle. There are new recycling bins conveniently located on the 1st and 2nd floors for the community’s use. Please follow the labels and signs to appropriately discard of any waste or recyclables. Additionally, members are encouraged to collect and bring compost from home to 88th Street on Tuesdays from 4:30-7:30PM while the CSA is in operation. Questions? Contact Larissa at or call x272.