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2020 may have been one of the worst years on record, but so far 5781 has been a great year for Social Action at Congregation B’nai Jacob. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah a group of us met on Zoom. We vowed to do something to repair the world every month until next Rosh Hashanah, and so far we have honored our commitment. Due to the pandemic, most of our actions have involved financial donations rather than volunteering in person. Here is what we have accomplished so far:

· October: Get Out the Vote letter-writing campaign for the non-partisan group Vote Forward. We wrote over 500 letters encouraging people in swing states to vote.

· November: We collected frozen turkeys, boxed and canned foods, and money so that Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) could serve Thanksgiving Dinner to homeless people.

· December: We partnered with four other synagogues and the Unitarian Society to cater Christmas Dinner for homeless people at Columbus House (we raised more than our share, over $600). We began collecting coats and other cold weather gear for the clients of DESK. In addition, CBJ’s Hesed Committee distributed “Hanukits,” gift bags filled with Hanukah goodies, to everyone in our community.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to these projects. To better help you plan how you would like to participate in the coming months, and what projects you would like to contribute money to, here is list of what we have planned.

· January: We will raise money for Columbus House, which provides food, shelter, and other essential services to the homeless. We will do this in tandem with United Church on the Green, our partner for Abraham’s Tent, which is on hiatus due to COVID19. Our goal is to raise $2,500.

· February: We will use the funds leftover from our very successful underwear drive for Chapel on the Green to provide them with winter necessities. These items will be distributed to the clients of DESK at Sunday dinners. We will not be asking for any new donations.

· March: Our congregation will participate in HIAS Refugee Shabbat to raise awareness and reaffirm our commitment to welcoming refugees. We plan to have local speakers during Shabbat services, and the opportunity to join national events planned by HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), all on Zoom. This event is not planned as a fundraiser, but individuals may want to donate to HIAS, or local refugee resettlement groups such as IRIS or JCARR.

· April: We plan to raise money for The Diaper Bank of Connecticut, an organization that creates “change from the bottom up” by providing diapers to poor and low-income families. Although diapers are essential, they are also expensive, and they are not covered by SNAP or WIC. A baby in a poor family can spend an entire day in one diaper, leading to health and abuse risks.

Our Social Action projects for the months of May through September are still in the planning stages. There will surely be work to do in our Mitzvah Garden. We hope that sometime in the late spring or summer we will be able to volunteer in person again. When that happens, we can resume packing food for Food4Kids, serving meals at DESK, and perhaps even planning another Sukkot on the Green. COVID19 has increased the needs in our surrounding community, and has raised our awareness of structural inequities. We are living through a moment when the call to Social Action is stronger than ever. What would you like to do to repair the world? The Social Action committee at CBJ welcomes your ideas and energy to plan future projects.

Thank you for your support of our synagogue’s Social Action efforts. We could not do it without you. If you have ideas about future projects, or would like to become more involved, please contact me at

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Kate Ezra
Chair, Social Action Committee

Social Action


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


Fri, January 15 2021 2 Shevat 5781