Sign In Forgot Password

Social Action Annual Report




If you look at our mission statement, you will see that the 4th pillar is Shutafut, Partnership. This year has been very much a year of partnerships – partnerships between groups within the Social Action Committee, partnerships with other groups in the temple, partnerships with other organizations in the Jewish world, and partnerships with groups in the general community – and then, partnerships with partnerships.

Our Racial Justice Task Force worked with the Adult Education Committee in creating a number of programs many of which were funded by a grant from the UJA: Documentary and discussion about struggle of Ethiopian Jews to make Aliyah; discussion of I am Not Your Negro with help of Georgetown University Professor Terrence Johnson; watch party of the documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy, featuring Stacey Abrams, followed by a presentation and discussion with Katie Friel of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Lee Winkleman of the RAC; a program helping us identify our unconscious biases. The UJA grant also enabled us to purchase for the temple’s children’s library about 20 kids’ books related to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. And to promote the reading of books on this topic, Racial Justice ran 2 book swaps.

Our Hunger team collaborated with Kesher in collecting food for local pantries through the Mensch of the Month program. 

Our Civic Engagement task force teamed up with our Environmental task force and Racial Justice task force to join in on a 3-year RAC-NY campaign to fight climate change.

We started off the year, as we do each year, collecting school supplies and backpacks for the kindergarteners of the Lois Bronz Children’s Center in Greenburgh.

Even before the High Holy Days arrived, our congregants began putting together over 100 Crisis Care Kits to contribute to the campaign of our neighbor across the road, the First Community Church of the Nazarene, for victims of the hurricane in Haiti.

Although not one meeting of the Interfaith Caring Community of Greenburgh took place this year, we still participated significantly – organizing and hosting the Interfaith Thanksgiving service and coordinating Interfaith’s Sunday dinners for Children’s Village teen shelter in Valhalla and, with our own congregants, providing 4 of those dinners.

Speaking of Children’s Village, we provided the kids in one of their cottages with Christmas presents and we provided the teen shelter with desserts for a week each month. And our Confirmation kids prepared Thanksgiving dinner for the teens, as well.

Our Midnight Run Breakfast team did 4 breakfast runs – 2 in the fall and 2 in the spring – helping to provide folks with food, clothing, toiletries and dignity.

We worked with the Shames JCC on their MLK Day of Service project – packing Blizzard Boxes of food items for folks in Westchester who are food insecure and Toy Packs for Afghan refugee kids residing in army bases. And we served as a drop-off center for clothing and other items for Afghan refugees, working with the JCC, UJA and Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration.

Keeping on the subject of immigrants, we became a member of the Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration and we are partnering with 5 other synagogues and 1 church to form the Westchester Resettlement Coalition, which will sponsor an Afghan refugee family. We are just beginning. Some of you have already volunteered for this and you will all be hearing from us soon.

With donations of needed items and of our time and energy, we have supported AFYA, an organization that rescues medical and personal hygiene supplies and sends them where they are desperately needed – be it Ukraine, the Caribbean or Africa.

We have donated both items and energies to the Furniture Sharehouse, enabling folks of extremely limited resources to furnish a home.

Our Domestic Abuse Task Force has helped two families transition out of Hope’s Door shelter this year and into their own homes – a direct result of the generosity of our congregants. Our DATF also took kids and moms from the shelter for an afternoon of apple picking and, to help folks understand the importance of the work we are doing, the DATF hosted a screening of documentary Crime After Crime, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Yoav Potash, and with staff members of Hope’s Door.

Our Project Ezra team collected food last summer for Project Ezra’s food pantry and in the fall partnered with the Westchester Jewish Center of Mamaroneck to provide 150 Hanukkah gift bags for the Project Ezra seniors. And since we couldn’t do our usual Passover Food Collection, we collected money so they could do their own shopping - $3,000 worth!

Together with Peace Islands Institute of New York, our Bridges of Faith and Friendship team, our Racial Justice Task Force and Adult Education Committee, we sponsored a discussion on zoom with Sabeeha Rehman & Walter Ruby on their book, We Refuse to Be Enemies; How Muslims and Jews Can Make Peace One Friendship at a Time.

Our Coachman team, which normally brings our 8th and 9th graders for several afternoons of shared time with kids at the Coachman shelter, instead did one zoom session but ran a collection of toiletries for them, something they indicated they very much needed.

At our High Holy Day food drive, we collected food, supermarket gift cards and money for local food pantries.

We have begun working with the Shames JCC to find ways to collaborate or promote each other’s social action events.

Very much aware of what is happening across the Atlantic, we have assigned a congregant to be our point person on Ukraine as we search for ways to help the Ukrainian people. We are supporting AFYA’s collection of durable medical equipment for Ukraine and several congregants demonstrated in front of the Russian Federation consulate in NYC.

Our Knitting & Crocheting group has continued making blankets, hats, scarves, shawls and chemo caps for the Coachman, local hospitals, Hope’s Door, and others.

With the NY Blood Center, we ran a blood drive in the fall and we have one coming up on June 26.

Our Environmental Task Force is supporting the installation of a large pollinator demonstration garden near Anthony Veteran Park as well as a garden here at Woodlands.

Our Civic Engagement Task Force has been working closely with RAC-NY throughout the year. As part of this effort, we were able to participate in a conversation with Senator Schumer on voting rights legislation.

And so that you will all be able to keep up to date on our programs, we have restructured the Social Action pages of the temple website, making it easy for congregants to have timely details about them.

We have had a few disappointments – we were unable to do the Confirmation Class Christmas Eve Midnight Run; we didn’t have sufficient registration for a spring book read and had to cancel it; and, with Chesed, we were unsuccessful in finding sufficient seder hosts for several folks who had no place to go. But, overall, it’s been a pretty good year.

Looking ahead, in addition to our ongoing programs, we are planning a family-friendly dinner with the folks from Peace Islands Institute – so hold Sunday, September 18 (4:45 pm); we will be participating in RAC’s Every Voice, Every Vote Campaign to fight voter suppression (a project in which many of our congregants were very involved in 2020); we will be continuing to work on the Campaign to Fight Climate Change; we will be doing what we need to do to settle another Afghan family in Westchester; we will be doing an environmental audit; we will resume hosting seniors from Project Ezra for lunch (on December 5); and, of course, we will be standing ready to help when the next disaster or crisis occurs.

All that we have done this year has been thanks to the spectacular efforts of our task force and subcommittee leaders: Backpack Collection, Rabbi Lisa Izes; Blood Drive, Margie Berman, Jill Garland & Steve Sagner; Breakfast Run, Julie Fischer & Mike Silverman; Bridges to Faith & Friendship, Eric Katz; Civic Engagement, Andrea Olstein & Rochelle Stolzenberg; Children’s Village Gifts and CV Sanctuary Desserts, Jeanne Bodin & Natalie Werner – with Jenn Leff taking over Desserts; Coachman Program, Julie Stein & Rabbi Lisa Izes; Disaster Task Force/Ukraine, Olga Tenenbaum; Domestic Abuse Task Force, Judy Stiefel, Jennifer Trevor Hochman and Bill Woolis; Environmental Task Force, Kirsten Kleinman; Food Collection, Val Fox & Sandi Lieb; Gun Violence, Shelli Katz; Immigrant Friends at WCT, Steve Glusker; Knitting & Crocheting, Angela Adler & Elizabeth Barnhard; Project Ezra, Harriet Kohn, Elise Wagner Ballan & Janet Weinstein; Racial Justice Task Force, Linda Einfrank & Rebecca Mazin; Refugee Task Force, Leslie Litsky, along with Marge Glusker & Melanie Roher Schwartz; Shames JCC Liaison, Jamie Weiss-Yagoda; Shelter Dinners, Val Fox – and all the wonderful other volunteers on these projects – as well as our office staff and our staunch advocates, Rabbi Mara, Andy Farber and Pam Chernoff. 

Submitted by Rabbi Joan Farber and Roberta Roos, Co-chairs, Social Action Committee

Mon, March 20 2023 27 Adar 5783