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. 

Phone: 212-838-5122, ext. 5009

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

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.

Summer Sandwich Making

Thursdays, Jun 5 – Sep 11, 12:30–1:30 p.m. | Atrium (Pavilion)

Help make sandwiches for Central’s Breakfast Program, where along with serving a hot meal, clients are also sent away with a freshly prepared bag lunch. These sandwiches are made in advance by dedicated groups of volunteers.

Contact Tess Chanoch.


Mitzvah Day

Sunday, November 9, 2014 | Various locations

Each November, Central Synagogue partners with a number of charitable organizations throughout the city to host Mitzvah Day. Started in 1997 through a generous donation by the Eric Wasserman Fund for Community Outreach, Mitzvah Day has become a family tradition for many members of Central Synagogue. There are more than a dozen on-site and off-site projects for volunteers of all ages including baking, knitting, garden clean-up, spending time with the elderly and visiting a women’s shelter. More information to come!

Contact for Upcoming Dates

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).

Semiannual Blood Drive

Summer and Winter

Twice a 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

Opportunities This Week