• Social Justice

Healing The World

The Jewish value of tikkun olam, healing the world, is at the heart of CBE’s identity. From our rapid response to Hurricane Sandy, which spurred our CBE Feeds program, to our study series on systemic racism in America, which led to our Dismantling Racism Team, to our partnership with Council member Brad Lander that led to the #GetOrganizedBK initiative, which has led thousands of our Brooklyn neighbors to work to protect human rights, stand with vulnerable communities, and defend democracy.

If you would like opportunities to do good and create change in the world, from acts of kindness to service, from giving to mitzvot, from advocacy to community organizing, CBE is a place to get involved. We welcome you to bring your skills, commitments, and heart to any or all of our social justice initiatives.

Neutrality when life is at risk is not a Jewish value. Silence in the face of injustice is not a Jewish value. The Jewish thing to do is to take a stand, to speak, to act. -Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Rosh Hashanah sermon

Ongoing Initiatives


CBE Dayenu Circle

The COVID-19 crisis has pulled back the curtain, revealing how global crises affect us all and how interconnected we always were. It has also reminded us that, by working together, we have the power to protect and support each other and to make long-needed changes. As the current crisis continues to impact us in ways large and small, it also can prepare us for the looming climate crisis that is already taxing our fragile systems and impacting the most vulnerable among us. The muscles of collective, cross-border collaboration, communal effort for the greater good, and shared purpose that we are strengthening during this pandemic can be put to good use to fight what will undoubtedly be this century’s greatest challenge: curbing climate change.

We are thrilled to announce the launch of CBE’s Dayenu Circle, the first chapter of a new organization: Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Action. CBE’s Dayenu Circle is joining the Stop the Money Pipeline to demand that the financial sector stop funding, insuring, and investing in the climate crisis.

Stopping this money pipeline is one of the most important ways we can address the climate emergency. To this end, we are working to engage 100 CBE members in the campaign between today, Earth Day, and Shavuot. If you’re interested in getting involved or learning more, sign up here and our CBE Dayenu team will be in touch.

Poor People's Campaign

About the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

(From Souls of Poor Folk)
“In 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the Poor People’s Campaign. It was an evolution of his work leading the Civil Right Movement. He connected those affected by the interfunctioning evils of poverty, race, and the war economy. He was killed while organizing a mass mobilization and encampment in Washington DC for the summer of 1968. Still, that summer, a “’freedom church of the poor’ gathered by the thousands in Washington. They erected “Resurrection City,” their encampment on the National Mall, to demand that their government address bitter poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world. They confronted fundamental questions about America’s moral and Constitutional vision for all of its people, regardless of their wealth, race, gender or national origin. They demanded attention to the hungry children and inadequate schools from Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta to the devastated inner cities across America. They made moral witness against America’s long, pointless, and immoral war in Vietnam, and tried hard to be heard as they carried their testimony forward into public life. The hard history that compelled them to “pray with their feet,” as Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, also compelled many Americans to ask whether the republic for which they stood would ever stand for them.”

In 2018, the Campaign was relaunched by Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis. It calls us to understand now five interfunctioning evils: deepening poverty, ecological devastation, systemic racism, and an economy harnessed to seemingly endless war, and the perpetuation of false moral narratives.

“The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Every major religious tradition places challenging oppression and criticizing systems of injustice at the center of its moral considerations.”

Click here to read a d’var Torah Rabbi Timoner wrote for the RAC about the Poor People’s Campaign in 2018.

Click here for a video from the URJ about the Poor People’s Campaign.

Dismantling Racism

The Dismantling Racism Team (DRT) grew out of CBE’s 2016 Race in America book discussions and has been working on criminal legal reform. Two years ago, we participated in the Raise the Age coalition that got New York State to sharply curtail prosecution of teenagers as adults. In 2018, we helped pass laws eliminating cash bail for most offenses and requiring prosecutors to disclose their evidence earlier in their cases.

More recently, we have been working on several efforts including:
-Spearheading CBE’s antiracism initiative
-Advocating for police reforms to end police brutality in light of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and other people of color
Advocating for decreased police presence in schools
-Co-leading the Brooklyn Justice Advocacy Coalition (BJAC) with several interfaith partners
Advocating for a bill to reform school disciplinary systems that discriminate against students of color.

Please join us at one of our upcoming meetings every other Monday at 7 PM. Note that the group is open to both CBE members and non-members. If you are interested in learning more and/or attending, please email: cbedismantlingracismteam@cbebk.org

Refugee Task Force

As Jews, we remember that we were once refugees who needed the world to take notice. It is our duty now to help other refugees. The Refugee Task Force builds coalitions with other New York City synagogues to educate the community and to push our legislators to protect refugees. We also directly support refugees who have settled in the U.S. and those in refugee camps abroad.

Visit our website: https://cberefugeetaskforce.org/

Over the next year we will focus on political advocacy issues involving the removal of Temporary Protected Status, refugee resettlement restrictions, and DACA repeal; direct action projects including a cell phone/laptop drive for unaccompanied minors in Greece; community educational film events, and much more.

Family Social Justice Committee
Families with young children (ages 4-8) engage in service and learning through age-appropriate community service activities that include an educational element and time to socialize with other CBE community members. Past projects have included decorating and packaging supplies for CHIPS Women’s Shelter, wrapping gifts for families at Bronx Defenders, and supplying hope boxes for children in refugee camps.

Want to get involved today? Please email tikkunalliance@cbebk.org.

CBE Respite Shelter

The Respite Bed Shelter at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE), in partnership with CAMBA provides meals and a safe space for male guests to sleep. The shelter operates for five weeks each May and June. Last year, 120 volunteers provided food and shelter to homeless guests each night. CBE is planning another successful year with your help. Volunteering at the CBE shelter provides an opportunity to give back to the Brooklyn community in a much-needed service. Volunteers may sign up to prepare and serve dinner or stay overnight. Individuals, families, or groups may also sign up to provide desserts. Volunteers will be met by an Evening Coordinator to assist them. This is also an opportunity for teens to do community service and we are glad to provide a letter for schools.

Dinner: Volunteers may sign up to prepare dinner for 14 people (Dinner must be prepared outside CBE. We have no ovens, just a small microwave.) Volunteers prepare a nutritious, protein-based meal and arrive no later than 6:30 PM to serve guests. Volunteers should plan to stay to serve dinner and speak with the guests until around 8 PM. At least one person or family should sign up (two families can work together) and children may assist parents.

Overnight: Volunteers (both men & women) may sign up to sleep overnight at the shelter. There will be cots and clean linens on site. Plan to arrive by 7 PM and depart by 7 AM the next morning after the guests leave. At least two adults must be present and teens over age 12 may stay overnight, as long as a parent is with them.

Dessert: Individuals, families, or groups may sign up to provide dessert for shelter guests. Please deliver the dessert by 6:30 PM and give it to the Evening Coordinator. There is no need to stay.

If you sign up to volunteer and need to cancel, please provide at least 48 hours notice to the coordinator, Carol Shuchman, who can be reached at 917-589-8972. Thank you.

Take on a larger role: The shelter has an Evening Coordinator for each night who is responsible for ensuring that everything goes smoothly. We also have a pantry coordinator (who makes sure that supplies are in place every week) and a laundry coordinator. If you’re interested in helping with any of these roles, please contact shelter@cbebk.org.

CBE also supports CAMBA shelters at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in the winter and at the Old First Reformed Church in the summer by providing meals and overnight volunteers.

Get In Touch


For more information about social justice at CBE or or to get involved, please contact: