Social Justice at CBE
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
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 advocate for legislation to protect refugees, directly support refugees who have settled in the U.S. and in refugee camps abroad, and educate the community.
Over the next year we will focus on political advocacy involving relief to excluded workers, the release of detainees, the end of family separation, refugee resettlement restrictions, and DACA repeal; direct action projects including supporting families who have settled in NYC and supply drives for refugees abroad; and community education including film and book events.
To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dismantling Racism Team (DRT) is part of CBE’s larger history and commitment to pursuing social justice for all. We have two main working groups that we warmly welcome all interested members of the congregation to become part of. The group is open to non-members as well. If you are interested in learning more and/or attending please email: email@example.com
-The Antiracism Working Group focuses on CBE’s own congregational norms, practices, and policies, with the goal of making CBE an antiracist congregation and a more inclusive community for all, including congregants, worshipers, family members, guests, and students.
-The Advocacy Working Group is actively engaged in advocacy, in alliance with more directly impacted groups, for reforms of the state and local criminal legal system. The group’s efforts have included participating in the Raise the Age coalition to sharply curtail the prosecution of teenagers as adults, helping pass laws eliminating cash bail, and more recently, advocating for police reforms to end police brutality.
On March 1, 2021 as part of CBE’s speaker series “Member Mondays”, the DRT presented “#LessIsMoreNY: A Conversation on Combating Racism Through Parole Reform”. Click here to watch our presentation.
The CBE Dayenu Circle works on climate action—and is a vehicle to make powerful, positive change with a Jewish voice. Whether you have more questions than answers, or have spent years advocating for climate action, our Dayenu Circle is a way to channel your passion and concern together with others. Working in concert with other Dayenu Circles across the country (as part of dayenu.org) we participate in both national and local actions, as well as learning together.
We do this work together not only to take effective action to confront the climate crisis, but to sustain ourselves and our spirits as we act. We hope that rooting in community and drawing on Jewish wisdom and experience supports us as we move from fear and anxiety to courageous action.
To get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CBE’s Democracy Team takes nonpartisan steps to encourage and facilitate civic engagement and promote voting rights. We participate in efforts–including postcarding, phonebanking, and voter registration campaigns–that fight against the suppression of the right to vote. We work closely with Reclaim Our Vote and other relevant organizations. Please let us know if you’d like to help. We’d love to have you!
To get involved, email email@example.com.
Reclaim Our Vote (ROV) is a volunteer-driven, nonpartisan voter-outreach campaign led by the not-for-profit Center for Common Ground of Virginia. The Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center is a national partner with the Reclaim Our Vote campaign. ROV is dedicated to empowering under-represented voters in communities of color by increasing voter registration and reducing the barriers to voting. Campaigns involve direct outreach to voters of color in 8 voter suppression states. Over 100 CBE and Brooklyn Jews members have sent over 10,000 postcards through ROV. For additional information, email Gale Kaufman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Organized BK was jointly established by Rabbi Timoner and Councilmember Brad Lander after the November 2016 election GOBK is a diverse community of empowered, active people working to advance social, racial, gender and economic justice at the local, national and global levels. CBE collaborates with GOBK on joint programming and action of a non-partisan nature. GOBK works with resource-partners and allies to: stand up to racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny; to fight against corporate greed and for consumer protections; to preserve the social safety net; to protect our planet from the devastation of climate change; to defend freedom of the press and voting rights; to strengthen our democracy. Groups within GOBK include Racial Justice BK (taking action against systemic and institutional racism); and Welcome to the Table (fundraising efforts to help cover the cost of immigration-related application fees).
To get involved, email@example.com.
As we look to perform acts of kindness and Tikkun Olam in our small part of the world, the Respite Bed Shelter at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE), in partnership with the social service agency CAMBA, provides meals and a safe space for male guests to sleep. We operate the shelter for six weeks each May and June. Every year, over 120 volunteers provide food and shelter to homeless guests each night. Volunteers may sign up to prepare and serve dinner or stay overnight. Families or groups may sign up. Volunteers are 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 (individuals, families or groups) may sign up to prepare dinner or dessert 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
In the coming year, the Poor People’s Campaign is focused on their MORE Campaign: mobilizing, organizing, registering, and educating voters as fundamental to combating the inter-functioning evils of poverty, racism, etc. At CBE, we will be working with members participating in other social justice efforts to build connections and support for all this critical work.
Click the button below to stay in touch with the Tikkun Alliance and learn more about social justice opportunities with CBE.
Are you interested in becoming a member of CBE? Click here to learn more about membership.