Social Justice & Community Organizing
Justice, Justice shall you pursue
Social Justice is important to our community. Over the last few years there has been a concerted effort to bring our community together around local concerns and wider social justice issues. Together, as a community, we have been identifying shared concerns and developing strategies for successful action in areas that affect us both directly and indirectly. These conversations have led to the development of a wide range of social action opportunities which you can find out about below.
Perhaps most importantly however, it has led to the re-formation of the social action committee - now known as the Tikkun Commitee. The Tikkun Committee helps to identify social justice issues of concern to the CBE community, and supports members in their efforts to “repair the world.” The committee promotes this pillar of Judaism through strategies of service, learning, advocacy, and giving, while connecting the community to its issues of concern. If you are interested in joining the Tikkun Committee please contact the Tikkun Chair Betty Leigh Hutcheson for more information.
During the High holidays and Sukkoth the Tikkun Commitee held a vote on what you would like to see as our community's main social justice priorities, and how you would like to get involved. Most respondents placed votes under the theme of economic justice and community care. The most voted-for projects under this category were supporting a homeless shelter and supporting Habitat for Humanity. Many also voted for projects related to the environment, most often for establishing a soup-kitchen vegetable garden. Under education and children the most votes were for supporting children of incarcerated parents and further education and advocacy efforts around LGBTQ inclusion.
CBE shows its care for the community through its actions in many areas with work done by volunteers, clergy, and staff. CBE has already realized many of the survey results by continued efforts in providing relief to the hurricane victims, the homeless, greening our building, and more. Please continue to volunteer; your time will not be wasted.
CBE’s Respite Shelter
We are very proud to announce that CBE is going to be hosting its own respite shelter here at CBE during May and June of this year. CBE will be joining Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Old First Church in providing this essential service to the homeless. Beginning May 19 for six weeks, CBE will host guests brought from a drop-in center operated by CAMBA, the largest social service agency in Brooklyn, from Sunday through Thursday nights. We will be providing a hot meal and a safe place to sleep for those in need. If you’re interested in supporting this program by giving your time to help organize now or to volunteer while the shelter is open, please contact Carol Shuchman or Betty Leigh Hutcheson.
Sandy Relief Work
The day after Superstorm Sandy, CBE received a call from our local councilmember asking that we prepare lunch for 600 residents of a temporary shelter in the neighborhood. In under four hours, a volunteer chef led hundreds of volunteers in preparing the 600 meals in a totally outdated kitchen. That was the beginning.
The work has continued, and CBE has enlisted and deployed more than 1650 volunteers and prepared and delivered more than 20,000 meals along with daily truckloads of supplies including winter coats, shoes, blankets, batteries, flashlights, protein bars, non-perishables, diapers, baby-formula, water and more.
We are still continuing this Sandy Relief work. We currently preparing food for our community partners in the Rockaways and we are working with Occupy Sandy who are linking us with communities in need in Staten Island. We still need volunteers every weekday morning to help with the food prep and to deliver the meals. Click here to sign up
Building with Habitat for Humanity
We regularly send volunteer teams to work with Habitat-NYC helping them to fulfill their mission of providing affordable housing to low income housing. Please contact Amanda Leath for information about upcoming opportunities.
Tutor at John Jay
Be part of this exciting partnership between the Park Slope community and the schools in John Jay. John Jay is the school building on 7th Avenue between 4th and 5th street that since 2004 has been the home to 3 high schools and one middle school. In September 2011 a new high school, Millennium, was added to the campus. These schools have truly diverse student populations, with children from all over Brooklyn and many ethnic backgrounds. Many of the students could really benefit from the academic support that a mature, caring adult can provide.
We had 15 volunteers working in the schools during the 2010-2011 academic year and we have 18 volunteers working in the schools during this academic year.
Join CBE’s Green Team!
Are you interested in helping to create sustainable communities? Are you interested in how CBE can become and greener and more sustainable organization? The come join our green team. We will come together every 3 to 6 weeks to set greening goals for the community and the institution!
Want to join or find out more? Contact Isabel Burton, CBE’s Greening Fellow (and Revson Fellow for Community Organizing) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will aim to hold our first meeting at the beginning of June.
Our Partnership with the Osborne Association
We have worked in partnership with the Osborne Association since September 2010, supporting children of incarcerated parents. There are a range of different on-going volunteer opportunities, ranging from mentoring kids around the college application process, to providing homework help, to chaperoning kids to visit their parents in prison. It is not too late to get involved in these opportunities. To find out more please contact Wesley Weissberg.
The LGBTQ group marched as CBE representatives in the Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade last year, and they are making information available at CBE’s January 26 blood drive about HIV activism and facts regarding blood donation and the LGBTQ community.
Heights and Hills
Some of our members volunteer with Heights and Hills, an organization that provides older adults and their caregivers with the services, support, and information needed to successfully age in place — in their own homes — in nineteen Brooklyn neighborhoods. All of their services are free. The Heights and Hills Volunteer Program plays an integral role in ensuring that homebound older adults stay healthy, happy, and connected in their communities. Volunteers can fulfill a range of different roles such as becoming a weekly Friendly Visitor; providing weekly telephone reassurance and escorting your elderly neighbors to medical appointments to name a few. Alongside these opportunities Heights and Hills is currently looking for a mature male volunteer to spend 1-2 hours a week with a married 87 year old gentleman living in his own home in Crown Heights. Volunteer must be patient, kind, observant and sensitive to holocaust survivor issues and history – Polish speaking a plus but not required. Day and time flexible but Fridays between 10am and 4pm would be ideal. Must be able to make a 6 month commitment to visit weekly.
Please contact Betsy Guttmacher at 718-596-8789 x329 or email@example.com for more information about becoming a volunteer or if you want to talk to a member who has been volunteering with Heights and Hills please contact Evelyn Dresler
Other ongoing Social Justice Work
In addition to the specific initiatives mentioned here we also have members who are working around guns control issues, around domestic workers rights, and on issues of environmental sustainability. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in this organizing work. Please do contact Isabel Burton to find out more.
Why Is This Important?
Rabbi Gamliel taught that the world stands on three things: justice, truth and peace. As a Jewish community, we have a responsibility to be fair and just. Even more so, we are commanded to follow the concepts ofTzedakah and Tikkun Olam, doing our best to assist those less fortunate and to fix what is wrong with the world.
If you have any questions, ideas about social justice, or concerns for discussion, please contact Isabel Burton, Revson Fellow for Community Organizing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-668-3814