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.
Sundays, February 19 and March 19 | 10:30AM-2:00PM | 89th Street Community House
What do you do when you witness racial, ethnic, religious or other forms of harassment? Bystander intervention and de-escalation involve a series of tools that can be consciously employed to defuse volatile situations. In this interactive workshop, these concepts will be presented in the context of self-defense and harm reduction. Students will identify verbal and non-verbal techniques to de-escalate conflict. Students will also learn the four Ds of bystander intervention – direct, distract, delay, and delegate. All of these tactics will be presented in tandem with the importance of larger scale community organizing and alternatives to policing. Sessions will be facilitated by Rachel Levy, a social worker and member of the BJ community trained by the Center for Anti-Violence Education. Spots are limited for each session. Register here.
Sunday, February 26 | 11:00AM-1:00PM | 88th Street Kitchen
Join us as we give back to the community by cooking a meal for the BJ/SPSA Homeless Shelter. No cooking experience is necessary. Members and non-members welcome! Contact Haley (email@example.com) for more information or R.S.V.P. here by February 22.
*Our homeless shelter is entirely volunteer-run, so if you sign up, we are counting on you! In order to help cover the cost of dinner for our shelter guests, we encourage participants to bring $8-10.
Monday, March 6 | 6:30-8:30PM | 89th Street Reception Room
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.
Tuesday, March 7 | 6:30-8:30PM | 89th Street Reception Room
Through a partnership with HIAS and emerging relationships with other organizations, we are educating our community about the refugee crisis and developing opportunities to volunteer, advocate, and raise our Jewish voice. Join us at our next meeting to get involved in this important work. R.S.V.P. to Sandy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call x272.