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Social Action


National Refugee Shabbat 2018

Congregation B’nai Jacob joined over 300 synagogues throughout the United States on Friday October 19 to celebrate National Refugee Shabbat, a program organized by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).  Founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, today HIAS helps refugees of all faiths and ethnicities.

Kabbalat Shabbat services at B’nai Jacob included a brief talk by Chris George, Executive Director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), the principal refugee resettlement agency in Connecticut.  George spoke about the challenges of refugee resettlement today, and the contributions made by co-sponsor groups such as JCARR, the Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement.  Rabbi Shapiro highlighted the Jewish value of caring for the stranger, and shared Jewish activist Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” whose words of welcome are inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.  Cantor Kanfer sang the poem’s most well known verse, set to music by Irving Berlin in the song “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.”

Congregants enjoyed a delicious vegetarian dinner catered by Aminah Alsaleh, a Syrian refugee whose family has been co-sponsored by JCARR.  About a dozen B’nai Jacob women assisted Aminah in the kitchen, chopping vegetables, stuffing grape leaves, and sharing stories.  During dinner, Caryl Kligfeld, a former national board member and chair of overseas operations for HIAS, spoke about the important work that HIAS has done for Jews and non-Jews over its almost 140 year history. Caryl introduced Dr. Barry Zaret, who spoke movingly about the refugee experience of his father, Irving Zaret z”l, who as a young boy survived a Russian pogrom and was resettled in the U.S. by HIAS.

During an evening of stories, song, poetry, good food, laughter and tears, we remembered the refugee and immigrant journeys of our ancestors, and connected more deeply with the experiences of refugees today.


Sukkah on the Green

On September 30, 2018 Congregation B’nai Jacob hosted Sukkah on the New Haven Green as part of Chapel on the Green, a regular Sunday event that provides food and community to people in need, sponsored by Trinity Church and other participating faith organizations.  More than forty-five CBJ members participated. Some helped set up the sukkah behind Trinity Church and others cooked and served a mid-day meal of pasta, meatballs, salad, bread, cookies and brownies. After a short interfaith service led by Rabbi Shapiro, about 200 people enjoyed the meal.

Rabbi Shapiro has said, “It is a special mitzvah to feed the hungry on Sukkot. It is our custom on Sukkot to invite special guests - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc - to the sukkah on each night. They are called ushpizin. According to the Zohar, because our ‘special guests’ do not eat, it is our obligation to feed what they would eat to people who need it.” Sukkah on the Green was a beautiful and meaningful way to share the bounty of our food and our traditions with others.




Mitzvah Garden

Mitzvah day 2012 was the kick off day to start a new garden at B'nai Jacob to help feed the hungry in Connecticut. Since then, many families have been volunteering their time to maintain the garden and bring food to the food bank.

This garden is part of a greater project called Harvest Now. Organizations throughout Connecticut participate with their own gardens. The produce is weighed and delivered to various food banks in the state.

This is a great way to get involved, its easy and rewarding...a great family project.

It is a great mitzvah to be able to grow fresh, healthy food for the hungry.

If you would like to help with the garden please email Andrea Fleischman at


Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen

Volunteer to help serve the homeless.

Second Sundays of every month are B’nai Jacob’s days to volunteer at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.  This is easy and rewarding work for older kids, teens, and adults.
4:15pm - 6:30pm

Contact Kal Watsky with questions or to sign up to volunteer at 203-393-2991 or

The Soup Kitchen is located at 311 Temple Street, New Haven. 


Jewish Alliance for Refuge Resettlement (JCARR)


Abraham's Tent


Mon, October 26 2020 8 Cheshvan 5781