Nearly two thousand years ago Rabbi Tarfon said, "You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to absent yourself from it."
There is so much brokenness in our world that the task of repairing it seems nearly overwhelming. Nonetheless, we are called to take responsibility for the society in which we live. Though the task is great, the opportunity to make an impact is limitless. One need only take the first step.
Social justice is a core value of Judaism. Our community’s commitment to social justice in the world is an integral part of who we are at Central Synagogue. It is truly a way of life for our community and throughout the year we pursue justice in all its forms.
Scroll down in the window below for local service volunteer opportunities with UJA network agencies.
Please Note: You will need to create a Time for Good account to register.
Monday mornings new and experienced knitters are busy creating beautiful pieces of clothing that are donated to New Yorkers in need. Extra hands are always welcome. Don’t know how to knit? This is also a great way to learn!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Make sandwiches for the Breakfast Program, where along with serving a hot meal, clients are also offered a freshly prepared bag lunch. Please RSVP to volunteer. All ages welcome to participate; children must be accompanied by an adult.
The Breakfast Program, formerly known as the Caring Committee Feeding Program, is among Central Synagogue’s longest ongoing social justice projects. Originally conceived and implemented by longtime congregant Nat Shapiro in 1983, the Breakfast Program was started in response to Mayor Koch’s outcry for New York City’s religious institutions to respond to an exploding homeless and hungry problem. Today, many clients of the Breakfast Program are working poor who greatly appreciate and regularly rely on the warm, nutritious start to their day. Volunteers assemble every Thursday and Friday morning in Lese Lobby (Community House) to prepare and serve the most important meal of the day. A bag lunch is also handed out to clients. These lunches are prepared the prior evening as part of Central Synagogue’s Sandwich Making Program. Volunteers must be in the 6th grade or older; those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Volunteer tutors meet one-on-one each week with their assigned student for two hours of self-directed conversation. Those who are tutored may be students here for graduate studies, or spouses of UN or corporate employees, as well as immigrants hoping to obtain American citizenship. The tutors learn as much about their students’ countries and cultures as the students learn about the US. Lasting bonds are often formed between tutors and students. This program is put on in coordination with the English-Speaking Union, which helps foreigners in New York City feel at home with our language and culture. If you are interested in learning more, please email Carolyn Roesler at email@example.com or (212) 838-5122 Ext. 3043 and she’ll put you in touch with the program’s lay leaders. English in Action is not currently accepting new volunteers, but they are always happy to talk to people about the program and add to their list of prospective volunteers.
Join Rabbi Stephanie Kolin in a training with the New Sanctuary Coalition that will make it possible for you to help immigrants who have been identified by ICE for possible deportation, must appear in Immigration Court, or check-in with ICE officials regularly. These meetings are extremely vulnerable moments for undocumented immigrants and having someone accompany them through this often intimidating process, makes an enormous difference. The expert trainers have worked with Central members in the past. Twenty Central members have been trained thus far and have shared powerful stories of their experiences.
The evening will begin with dinner at 6:30 PM, followed by a one-time training session beginning at 7 PM.
For additional ways to take action on behalf of immigrants, please visit our Community Organizing page.
Join us for our first Central in Action event this year. On Monday, December 10, at 7:00 pm, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Yale Law School professor James Forman Jr. will explore the complex relationship between race, class, and the American criminal justice system, and discuss and sign his best-selling and critically acclaimed book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. Sharing his experience as a former public defender, he’ll address how we can help end this era of mass incarceration, its disproportionate impact on people of color, and how our community can impact bail reform in New York state.
The first 100 Central members to register will receive a free copy of Professor Forman Jr.’s book the night of the event. Reviewers have called Locking Up Our Own “superb and shattering” (New York Times), “honest and balanced” (Wall Street Journal), “eloquent” and “sobering” (London Review of Books), and “moving, nuanced, and candid” (New York Review of Books). You can also purchase the book here.