Our History and Vision
Vision looks inward and becomes duty. Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upward and becomes faith. – Rabbi Stephen S. Wise
We each hold a vision of how the world ought to be, and our synagogue inspires us to change the world as it is. BJ’s rabbis raise challenging issues of social justice from the bimah and teach that serving God begins before the prayer service starts and continues after it ends. We challenge each other by listening, building relationships, and telling our stories.
How We Respond
A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. [They are] asked to surpass [their] needs, to do more than [they understand] in order to understand more than [they do.]– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Our congregation maintains a lunch program, literacy programs in public schools, and, in cooperation with the Church of Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, a homeless shelter. We are intimately involved in direct service to those in need. These programs offer a variety of opportunities for our community to contribute as volunteers. In all these programs, we make an effort to foster an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
B’nai Jeshurun also mobilizes around advocacy work that can address the root causes of injustice by changing power structures, laws, policies, relationships, and practices. Our power to make change is developed through a congregation-based community-organizing model that emphasizes one-to-one relationships, community wide conversations, leadership development, and participatory decision-making.
At B’nai Jeshurun we call this organizing and advocacy work Panim el Panim, which in Hebrew means face-to-face, to remind us that communication happens between human beings. After these conversations, we develop campaigns that reflect community concerns in partnership with our neighbors and elected officials. Our membership in Manhattan Together, a broad-based coalition of diverse religious and secular institutions, allows us to magnify our power and voice in New York City.
B’nai Jeshurun never stops listening, and we are always ready to respond to calls to action in our local and global community that resonate with our members.