Social Justice/Tikkun Olam
Social Justice at SAJ
“You are not required to finish the work. Nor are you free to turn from it.” This well-known saying from the Pirke Avot captures the struggle with tikkun olam (repair of the world) that contemporary Jews face — what to do? how much? for whom? At the SAJ, we have several ways of answering those questions.
Tikkun Olam Action Network (TOAN)
The Tikkun Olam Action Network is a group of SAJ members who conduct social justice projects and distribute social action information to a mailing list of TOAN members.
In late February 2013, TOAN launched a petition drive urging our elected officials to support comprehensive, common sense gun control legislation including, in addition to background checks, a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and a national buyback program. We are pleased to report that we gathered hundreds of signatures in just a few weeks and sent them to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand in mid-March.
In 2005-2006, TOAN raised more than $23,000 from fellow SAJers to provide malaria-prevention bed nets to villagers in Malawi.
In 2007, TOAN, working with American Jewish World Service and The Stephen Lewis Foundation, raised funds to support community-driven responses to the African AIDS pandemic, especially organizations run by women and people living with AIDS that use innovative approaches to providing home care for severely ill people and help support grandmothers and extended families caring for orphans and vulnerable children.
More recently, TOAN has teamed up with the Social Concerns Committee to encourage an ongoing relationship between the SAJ and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger.
Social Justice Action Committee (formerly Social concerns committee)
The Social Justice Action Committee sponsors a variety of activities through the year designed both to raise awareness of issues of social concern in the SAJ community, and to do what we can to alleviate these issues.
Past initiatives have included collections for Katrina victims, annual winter coat drives (in conjunction with New York Cares), launching the Maimonides Fund for Microcredit (through the Tzedec Fund of the Jewish Funds for Justice), and Yom Kippur food pantry drives for the benefit of The Food Bank for New York City. The committee prepares an annual Mitzvah Sheet listing worthy organizations for volunteer opportunities and donations. You can download the SAJ SoJAC Mitzvah sheet here.
Global Synagogue Partnership with the AJWS
The SAJ became the first synagogue to participate in the American Jewish World Service's new program of “global congregations.”
This association affirms our commitment to be global citizens; that is, our concern reaches across the world to those in need anywhere.
Genocide in Darfur continues. For years, the SAJ has joined other synagogues and churches in our area that have hung banners proclaiming “A call to conscience / Save Darfur.org.” The banner refers people to a website with more information.
For more information and specific suggestions on how to take action on Darfur, visit www.savedarfur.org.
“Who Knows One?”
This Passover reflection by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, "Who Knows One," will be of interest to everyone concerned about this Darfur, and all Darfurs.
The SAJ is a member of Manhattan Together (formerly Upper Manhattan Together), an organization composed by Manhattan synagogues, churches and nonprofit institutions. Manhattan Together is involved in maintaining and building affordable housing, improving public school education and helping new immigrants. SAJers attend meetings and participate in actions and advocacy on behalf of Manhattan residents.
SAJ Greening Committee works to raise members’ awareness of steps each person can take to help fight climate change. We also make changes in the synagogue to lessen our carbon footprint, such as composting.
DOROT’s mission is to enhance the lives of Jewish and other elderly in the greater New York metropolitan area through a dynamic partnership of volunteers, professionals, and elders; to foster mutually beneficial interaction between the generations; and to provide education, guidance, and leadership in developing volunteer-based programs for the elderly, nationally and internationally.
The SAJ is a partner of MAZON, an organization that allocates donations from the Jewish community to prevent and alleviate hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds. For more information, contact www.mazon.org.