“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.”
~Rabbi Eric Yoffie, speech to the UAHC Executive Committee, February 1998
Social justice is a unifying mandate of Reform Judaism, central to who we are and what we do as a community at Temple Sinai in contributing to Tikkun Olam, repair of the world. There are four ways in which we engage in social justice. While each category of focus has a different scope and purpose, together, these four approaches contribute to the repair of society, locally, nationally, in Israel and around the world. To learn more about any of the topic below, get involved, or bring an issue to our attention, please contact the Chair of the Social Action Committee.
“The world stands on three things: on Torah, Avodah (service or prayer) and gemillut chasadim (deeds of loving-kindness).”
~Pirkei Avot 1:2
Direct service, otherwise known as community service, is what one normally thinks of when one thinks of engaging in gemillut chasadim, “deeds of loving-kindness.” This may include volunteering at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, or a clean-up project at the Truckee River. Direct service can be very rewarding and often results in a personal connection with the people or organization one is serving. Thus, it can have the added benefit of building and reinforcing relationships with people with whom one would rarely interact otherwise.
For Volunteer Opportunities here at Temple Sinai, please go to our “Leadership” page.
“A person who runs to do just, good, and kind deeds attains Life, success, and honor.”
~ Proverbs 21:21
From time to time, we offer opportunities for people to contribute materially to a worthy tzedakah project, whether with money or physical objects, like used or new or clothing or donations of food. During the High Holy Day season, we run an annual Food Drive for the hungry. Contributions to people or organizations that help the needy or do good work for the benefit of society is called tzedakah, meaning “righteous giving.” It is different from charity in the sense that as Jews, we see these financial or in-kind contributions as obligatory.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
~ Elie Wiesel
The Social Action Committee of Temple Sinai often takes on advocacy campaigns to help actualize Reform Jewish values in the community. Advocacy as an approach to social justice emphasizes leveraging relationships with government officials to support the causes we lift up as important to us and our community as Reform Jews.
Rabbi Benjamin Zober serves on the Coordinating Council of NIA (Nevada Interfaith Association) and both Rabbi Sara Zober and Rabbi Benjamin Zober are active in LGBTQIA+ issues in our community.
To learn more about the current advocacy efforts of the Social Action Committee of Temple Sinai, please contact our Chair.