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.
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 Hallie Isquith at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Brain Games is a program put on by the AHRC intended to help adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or traumatic brain injuries improve their short-term memory and cognitive ability. These games help build self-esteem and self-confidence through friendly competition and structured socialization. Brain Games is intended as a group activity rather than a contest among individuals. Volunteers and participants are encouraged to try their best and have fun! Members and non-members are welcome.
If you have any questions, please contact Tim Flynt and Sandra Rumayor at email@example.com.
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.
Once again, it is time to take action! Last year, during our Raise the Age campaign, we learned about the urgent need for bail reform in our state. We heard the tragic story of Kalief Browder, arrested at age 16 for stealing a backpack and detained on Rikers Island for three years without a trial because his family could not afford to pay $3,000 in bail.
Kalief’s story is not an uncommon one. There are thousands of people in our city and state accused of misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies who end up in jail each year because they cannot afford to pay bail amounts of as low as $500 or $1,000. These people are in a jail cell not because they are a public safety threat or because they have been convicted of a crime, but because they are poor.
Governor Cuomo recently announced a bail reform proposal; the State Legislature will vote on it before April 1. To play a vital role in improving this proposal and ensuring its passage, we need to act now and we need you with us. In partnership with faith communities throughout New York, we will raise our voices toward decriminalizing poverty and reducing mass incarceration.
Join us to learn more about bail reform and the Governor’s proposal. You will also have the opportunity to sign up to participate in this campaign. Together we can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. The Talmud teaches us that the mitzvah of “redeeming the captive” is among the greatest of Torah principles, teaching us that a person’s liberty is a profoundly sacred thing.
Come join Central Volunteers as we prepare and serve meals together at the St. Francis Xavier Mission Soup Kitchen in Chelsea. St Xavier-Mission does great work serving low-income, working, and homeless individuals. Each month we will meet on a Sunday from 11:45am to 3:30pm 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. Join your Central community as we engage in this important work. RSVP to email@example.com .