Social Justice

At Central Synagogue

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.

Breakfast Program

Fridays, 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. | Lese Lobby

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. 

RSVP to Alan Herman:

Why Knot Knit Mondays

Alternate Mondays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Community House

Central’s knitters are busy creating beautiful pieces of clothing for New Yorkers in need. Extra hands are always welcome. Not sure how to knit? This is also a great way to learn!

Contact Michele Klausner at for more information.

Giving, Greed, Poverty, & Wealth

Wednesdays, December 2, 9, & 16, 2015 | 7-8:30pm | Community House
Presented by Rabbi Lori Koffman

The mitzvah of Tzedakah (doing good to ensure that the needs of others are met) is one of the most important aspects of Judaism, and the month of December usually brings charity to the forefronts of our minds. It’s wonderful to give, but what does Judaism say about receiving? Even Tevye, the protagonist from Fiddler on the Roof famously claimed against God, “So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”  Is it noble to be poor? Explore these and other issues and discover whether Jewish tradition would agree with Gordon Gekko that ‘greed is good.’



English in Action

Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Community House

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. Long-time congregant Ros Harber, the daughter of a Hungarian immigrant who struggled to learn English as a teenager, has coordinated this program at Central for the last three decades in coordination with the English-Speaking Union, which helps foreigners in New York City feel at home with our language and culture.

Contact Ros Harber at or (212) 677-5664

St. Xavier Soup Kitchen

Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 11:45am - 3:30pm | St. Francis Xavier Mission on 16th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues

Come join Central Volunteers as we prepare and serve meals together at the St. Francis Xavier Mission Soup Kitchen in Chelsea Each month we will meet on a Sunday from 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m and do vital work for the soup kitchen.  All volunteers must be at least 14 years old, and groups of teenagers under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.To RSVP e-mail us at

Ronald McDonald House

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm | Upper East Side

Come help cook and serve a meal for children and families at the Ronald McDonald House. Please remember you need to have received this year’s flu vaccine to participate.

Volunteers must be 18 and older.

Please RSVP to

Winter Coat Drive

Weekdays in December | 8am-8:30pm | Lese Lobby

In conjunction with New York Cares, Central Synagogue gives coats to help residents of our city stay warm during the winter. Please bring your gently worn coats to Lese Lobby during the month of December between 8am and 8:30pm. 

Sandwich Making

Thursdays, times vary

Clients of our weekly Breakfast Program are also sent away with a freshly prepared bag lunch. These sandwiches are made in advance by dedicated groups of volunteers including Nursery School parents, Religious School students, Young Professionals and Social Justice volunteers. Your commitment to this important project is needed on Thursdays (daytime and evening sessions planned).

Contact Sue Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (212) 838-5122 ext. 5009.

Central Volunteers at Pride

Contact for upcoming dates | Lower East Side

The Educational Alliance operates residential therapeutic communities on the Lower East Side for adults struggling with addictions. The goal is to provide clients with a safe, supportive, confidential and chemical-free environment for these extraordinary men as they work to change their lives. Join the Central Volunteers as we support these men in their efforts to create healthy, productive lives. Some visits are focused on fun and social opportunities for the clients while others focus on vocational training or specific projects. Come meet these inspiring men and connect with the Central and greater New York community. Your commitment to this important project is needed. Volunteers must be over 18.

Contact Laura Rothschild at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Blood Drive

Each year, during especially critical times for the local blood supply, Central Synagogue’s members and neighbors help to give the gift of strength, health and life to another and fulfill the essential Jewish mitzvah of pikuach nefesh – saving a life. Central Synagogue hosts drives with the New York Blood Center, which supplies blood to many New York City hospitals. In general, donors must be at least 17 years old (16 year olds can donate with a pre-signed parental consent form), and weigh at least 110 pounds. For more information about donating blood, including eligibility requirements and preparation guidelines, visit

Contact Pat Rich at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Social Justice Committee

Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: 212-838-5122, ext. 5009

Learn about Central Synagogue's CSA program

Central Synagogue's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program supports local, certified organic, and sustainable farmers.

Opportunities This Week