Last Sunday, November 10, Social Justice Chair Paul Rabinovitz held the first of what he hopes will be many conversations about social action and Temple Israel’s responsibility toward those in need.

“It was an opportunity for us to have a more philosophical discussion about why we do social justice and then transition to the how and what,” Rabinovitz said. “For so many people at Temple Israel, Social Justice means something different … so what I’m trying to do as Chair is … have a lot of vital and interesting efforts in the social justice arena.”

As URJ President Emeritus Rabbi Eric Yoffie said at an Union of American Hebrew Congregations meeting in 1998:

“Reform Jews are committed to social justice. Even as Reform Jews embrace ritual, prayer, and ceremony more than ever, we continue to see social justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish
crown. Like the prophets, we never forget that God is concerned about the everyday and that the blights of society take precedence over the mysteries of heaven. A Reform synagogue that does
not alleviate the anguish of the suffering is a contradiction in terms.”

Those who participated in this first conversation, including 13 members and the clergy, had a broad and wide-ranging discussion about what causes or policy issues Temple Israel should support.

“Each person wrote down what their passions are,” Rabinovitz said, “and from there we’re going to decide where we want to our focus some of our earliest efforts in the coming year.”

Topics that were brought up for consideration include poverty and homelessness, domestic violence, immigration, and health care.

The next meeting will be on Sunday, December 8 at 12:30 p.m.

“At that meeting we’re going to make the final decisions about what we’re going to focus on,” Rabinovitz said. “We’re going to try to incorporate a wider range of thinking about what a Social Justice program is. It’s not just collecting food for the Food Bank or donating money to the Food Bank. It’s about education. Our congregants need to understand the severity of the problem, and then we need to work with agencies dedicated to that issue to not just manage it or deal with the effect, but come up with ways to eliminate the problem.”