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
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.
Ongoing and Upcoming Ways to Engage
Every individual can make a difference. Please join us and let us know how you want to be involved.
BJ Partnership with HIAS
There are more refugees and displaced persons in the world today than at any time since World War II. Conflict and persecution is driving millions from their homes, leaving them stateless and vulnerable.
On October 24, BJ hosted HIAS staff members Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President for Community Engagement, and Winnie Gacheru, Director of Psychosocial Programs at HIAS Kenya, who spoke about the global refugee crisis and how Jewish communities can respond to today’s pressing needs.
If you missed the HIAS speakers at services, you can hear Winnie Gacheru speak about her work here.
To get involved in BJ’s emerging partnership with HIAS, please contact Rabbi Shuli Passow, director of community engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 27 | 6:30-8:30PM | R.S.V.P. for Location
Attend a meeting to get involved in the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign with BJ. We are asking questions, having conversations, and educating the community to expand our collective understanding of ethical consumption. In doing so, we aim to acknowledge the predominately immigrant laborers who make New York’s multi-billion dollar agricultural economy possible. Through the passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, we hope to ensure that laborers who produce the food on which New Yorkers depend can have the dignity and equality they deserve. If you are interested in attending these meetings or have questions, please contact Lisa.
Thursday, March 30 | 10:45AM-12:00PM | New York City Hall
Join Rabbi Matalon and fellow BJ community members in supporting the dignity and rights of farm laborers. We will meet at 10:45AM in front of the City Hall steps near the Brooklyn Bridge. Let us know you’re coming here.
Click here for more information on the Justice for Farmworkers campaign and the work of Cesar Chavez.
Sunday, April 2 | 3:15-7:00PM (doors open at 3:00PM) | 88th Street Sanctuary
Earlier this year, BJ launched a racial justice initiative with the primary goal of exploring how issues of race, privilege, and power play out in our lives individually and within the BJ community. On April 2, we will take the next collective step in this work using the Pesah seder and its themes of liberation as a guide. Join us for singing, storytelling, and an in depth anti-racism workshop led by educator Diane Goodman.
The workshop is appropriate for adults and teens. During this portion of the event, separate programming will be available for children of all ages. We will conclude all together with dinner and song.
Monday, April 3 | 7:00-9:30PM | 88th Street Sanctuary
Join our Tze’irim 20s and 30s for a community Seder to hear stories from current refugees and to honor the stories of refugees throughout history. Enjoy a delicious meal while reflecting upon immigration and exile from the time of Egypt up through today, and on what we can do now to help those in need. Cost is $10. Register here.
Friday, April 28-Sunday, April 30 | Departure time TBD | Pickup Location TBD
Monday and Tuesday | 88th Street Frankel Hall
Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday | 86th Street Social Hall
Our shelter is always looking for new set up and sleepover volunteers and food donors. 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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call x272.