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Social Action/Social Justice

B’nai Sholom is a Brit Olam congregation with the Union for Reform Judaism. The Brit Olam is a “Covenant with our World because we see the world we want, not the world as it is… a World of Compassion, Justice and Wholeness.” This commitment makes B’nai Sholom part of a network of more than 150 congregations from Maine to California working in concert in meeting an “urgency of now” through moral leadership and congregational and community-based action.

The Social Action/Social Justice Committee engages and informs the congregation and community about social justice issues and provides opportunities to participate in activities to make our immediate communities and our world a better place.  We choose projects that reflect the Reform Jewish perspective and that represent our congregation in the community.  In  these ongoing extraordinary times, we continue to plan meaningful programs to actively engage all of us, while helping to nourish minds and souls.

Community Mitzvah Day provides us with the opportunity to engage with our fellow Jews from around the region.

The annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival brings out a large representation of both congregants and friends of B’nai Sholom.  It is an uplifting event for congregants to consider participating in each year.

The Committee will continue to foster the congregation’s work in the areas of racial justice, climate awareness, voting rights, and the many other goals for helping to achieve racial justice and equality for all.

Learn more about our Social Action Projects:

On the recommendation of the Social Action Committee, the Board of Trustees signed the Brit Olam from the Religious Action Center (RAC) of the Reform Jewish Movement. BSRC President, Libby Liebschutz delivered the contract at the URJ Biennial the first week of December, 2017.

The Brit Olam is a “Covenant with our World because we see the world we want, not the world as it is.” It is a contract to help create “a World of Compassion, Justice and Wholeness.”

RAC was hoping that 100 Reform Jewish congregations would sign because: Across North America and around the world, vulnerable populations face profound challenges.  As the Reform Jewish Movement, we are committed to meeting the urgency of now with moral leadership through congregational and community based action.

While our congregation did not have to commit to every point in the Brit or have programming for every item, B’nai Sholom has met many of the parameters.  Below is the Brit Olam. The contract check list is in bold and descriptions of our pertinent activities follows each parameter.

WE SIGN THIS BRIT OLAM on behalf of B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany, NY.

We, the clergy and lay leaders of B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation commit to form a team (or designate an existing team) with at least one clergy member (if our community has one) and two lay leaders to lead our community in one or more of the following: (check all that apply)

Acting in solidarity with vulnerable communities – BSRC/SAC works with these vulnerable communities:

  • THE FOOD INSECURE through participation:
    • Collecting food for Regional Food Bank
    • Working at the Sunday Soup Kitchen
    • Membership in Hunger Action Network of New York State (HANNYS)
    • Participation in Empty Bowls fundraising event for HANNYS
  • THE HOMELESS
    • Support congregation for Family Promise of the Capital Region
  • REFUGEES AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES
    • Iftar Friendship Dinner with the Turkish Cultural Center
    • Sponsored Refugee Shabbat
    • SA Shabbat to focus on Palestinian-Israel high school students “Through Others’ Eyes”

Building relationships across lines of difference in our local community – BSRC/SAC has sponsored programs about:

  • REFUGEES AND RELIGIOUS MINORITIES (see activities listed above)
  • PRISON POPULATION AND RACIAL MINORITIES
  • SA Shabbat focused on the “New Jim Crow” and prison system

Acting at the local, state/provincial, and/or federal levels to address the root causes of injustice through advocacy and/or congregational or broad-based community organizing – BSRC/SAC has sought to act by:

  • Providing a “hunger unit” for the religious school which included education and advocacy
  • Participation in Reform Jewish Voice advocacy days
  • Year-long focus on advocacy and education about critical issues
  • SA Shabbat with speaker from NYCLU

Participating in one of the Religious Action Center’s current Urgency of Now Campaigns to act at the local, state/provincial, and/or federal levels – BSRC has been active in Reform Jewish Voice (RJV) which advocates on many of these  issues:

  • Protecting the rights of transgender students in our school district 
  • Defending the rights of immigrants at risk of deportation 
  • Reforming the criminal justice system to end mass incarceration

Participating in a future Urgency of Now Campaign 

  • The Social Action Committee would be willing to undertake education re: topics and would consider taking action with BSRC Board approval

Participating in a state-wide campaign with the Religious Action Center’s state affiliate

  • Rabbi, congregants and SAC members participate in RJV Advocacy Days
  • With BSRC Board approval would consider future participation on specific issues

Fostering a culture of sacred and civil dialogue in our congregation where all opinions are heard.

The contract was signed by Rabbi Cashman, Libby Liebschutz (President) and Becky Marvin (Social Action Committee Co-chairperson)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK TO BETTER OUR WORLD, PLEASE CONTACT THE SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE! THERE IS MUCH TO BE DONE!

The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism has made climate change their top issue for the coming two to three years. RAC-New York asks all congregants to be on the lookout for requests for action on their Climate Covenant. This could take the form of letters, postcards, emails, or other direct actions RAC-NY initiates.  Join us and help reverse climate change. Here are some resources to help you get started.

We participate in the Capital Region Interfaith Creation Care Coalition (CRICCC) that works to mitigate and reverse global warming by focusing on renewable energy, Zero Waste, communication, and advocacy.

We produce a monthly summary of current environmental news, actions, and upcoming events.

  • Family Promise of the Capital Region — B’nai Sholom is a support congregation for this interfaith, grassroots program supporting shelter and services to homeless children and their families.  We are always looking for congregants to support us in this rewarding work. Learn more about this wonderful organization at https://www.familypromisecr.org/
  • We hold yearly food drives to stock Little Free Food Pantries in Albany and Schenectady.
  • Free Food Fridges Albany — Shopping for and stocking with fresh food refrigerators in Albany neighborhoods where food insecurity is abundant.
  • Providing volunteers to the Sister Maureen Joyce Soup Kitchen in Albany.
  • Twice-yearly clothing drives (spring and fall)

Through our affiliation with both the national and state Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement (RAC and RAC-NY) and other community organizations, we support legislation that fulfills the idea of tikun olam, healing the world, including campaigns to secure voting rights.

  • Books for Babies –Partnering with The Baby Institute and the Koinonia Primary Care Center in Albany to provide new books and accompanying literature to encourage a life-long love of reading in families where reading is not a strong tradition.
  • Provision of funds or books in memory of Vera Propp to purchase books for the:
    1. Whitney Young Well Child program
    2. Schuyler Inn Family Shelter in Menands
    3. Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY’s Jewish Coalition for Literacy reading program in the Albany city schools.
  • Book collections for the RED (Read Each Day) Bookshelf, which distributes free books to children and adults to encourage reading.

Our congregation is the founder of Capital District Alliance for Universal Healthcare (CDAUH) and continues to support efforts to achieve “Medicare for All” single payer health care.

Social Action/Social Justice Committee Meetings

We welcome creative ideas and new members. Join us on Zoom for good work, lively conversation, and camaraderie the fourth Monday of every month at 7:00 pm.

Our sages said a little light expels a lot of darkness

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420 Whitehall Road, Albany, NY 12208
518-482-5283|Email Us

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