Social Justice

Tzedek Council

Mission of the Tzedek Council

The Congregation Emanu-El Tzedek Council was launched in August 2015 as a congregant, board, and clergy run group, charged with the task of raising our participation and impact in the social justice arena. The five main priorities of the Tzedek Council are to:

  1. Ensure that social justice is a pillar of Congregation Emanu-El on par with Education and Worship, and seamlessly integrated with ongoing activities.
  2. Define, prioritize, and focus all social justice activity for Emanu-El.
  3. Formalize a social justice mechanism that allows for multiple methods of engagement (e.g., direct service, education, advocacy efforts, financial contributions, short term, long term, etc.) to ensure congregants have many options to participate in social justice activities and also have a way to bring ideas to Emanu-El for consideration.
  4. Increase meaningful participation for all Congregants.
  5. Maximize the impact of these efforts, to make a significant, positive, and hopefully lasting difference in the lives of others, and in the healing of the world.


Learn More about the Tzedek Council Members


Tzedek Council Members:
Pictured Above, Left to Right, First Row: Gail Nebenzahl, Rabbi Beth Singer, Susan Cole, Alana Zavett Green (Council Vice-Chair), Lara Ettenson (Council Chair), Sandy Rechtschaffen. Second Row: Nancy Levine, Laura Mosson, Stacey Scott, Rabbi Jason Rodich, Corey Smith, Michelle Green, Laura Gross, Paul Zarefsky. Back Row: Ben Gold-Matejka, Melissa Koeingsberg, Alan Ovson, Michael Colvin, David Shostak. Not Pictured: Anthony Witte, Margeaux Wolberg, Stuart Oppenheim.

How to get involved

The Tzedek Council has established five working groups that will initially cover the following topics. Additional topics may be added by the working group co-chairs and members depending on interest and number of participants. To get involved, please fill out the Tzedek Council Volunteer Form.

  1. Homelessness/Poverty/Hunger - Co-Chaired by Tzedek Council member Melissa Koenigsberg and Congregant Anne Quaintance
  2. Education: Both in the greater community and integrating social justice learning within Emanu-El’s education curriculum - Co-Chaired by Tzedek Council member Susan Cole and Congregant Amy Kassiola
  3. Environment: Both in the greater community and greening our Temple facilities - Co-Chaired by Tzedek Council member Michael Colvin and Congregant Joel Kassiola
  4. Human Rights: Including racial injustice, LGBTQ, refugees, ending gun violence, and ending death penalty - Co-Chaired by Tzedek Council member Nancy Levine and Congregant TBD
  5. Well-Being: Including intimate partner violence, mental health, physical health, and aging- Co-Chaired by Tzedek Council member Gail Nebenzahl and Congregant Sara Isaacs

If you have an issue that you would like the Tzedek Council members to consider, please fill out the Social Justice Request Form.

Additional Information

Read more about the Tzedek Council in the November and December Chronicle

Read up on the Tzedek Council FAQs

Review the Tzedek Council Charter

Are you interested in helping refugees? Please fill our the Refugee Initiative Volunteer Form.

Volunteer Opportunities


back on trackTutor with Back on Track

Monday – Thursday 3:30 – 5:30 pm OR Tuesday – Thursday 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Third Baptist Church, 1399 McAllister Street


The year 2016 marks the twenty-eighth anniversary of Back on Track, a partnership that originated when Rabbi Robert Kirschner of Congregation Emanu-El and Rev. Amos C. Brown of Third Baptist Church, met during a 1987 civil rights march in Alabama against racial violence and the Klu Klux Klan.  Inspired by the march, they agreed to form a unique partnership and build bridges of opportunity and academic enrichment for students in San Francisco. Brown and Kirschner recognized that a disproportionate number of African American students were performing below grade level in San Francisco's public schools.  The partnership they created was the genesis of the first pulpit exchange and of Back On Track, a tutoring program that promotes both academic achievement on a one‐on‐one basis for students who are otherwise not well served and a mentoring relationship.

The unique partnership has crossed religious and cultural differences to build bridges of opportunity for K-12 students. As a non-denominational community based program, Back on Track has served over 3,000 young people from diverse multicultural populations throughout San Francisco.

Email Tiffini Jones, Executive Director, at or call (415) 346-9316.

Learn More

Volunteer to Shop at the San Francisco Food Bank

Commit to shopping once every month on Friday mornings from approximately 8:00 am - 9:00 am at the SFFB warehouse, 900 Pennsylvania Ave in Potrero Hill

Over 350 partner agencies visit the Food Bank’s warehouse on a regular basis to select fresh produce, packaged food, bread, and dairy or meat items for their clients. This range of choice allows agencies to meet the varied nutritional needs and cultural preferences of the client communities they serve. Each Friday morning, Emanu-El volunteers shop for food, which is then distributed at our Healthy Children Pantry at Roosevelt Middle School.

Contact Donna Neumark with questions or to sign up.

Volunteer to Cook Sunday Dinners at G-House 

Sundays, 5:00 – 7:00 pm

This Larkin Street Youth Services site in the Richmond District, helps former foster youth and homeless youth between the ages of 18 and 24 to make successful transitions into adulthood and into living independently. Each Sunday, congregants from Emanu-El plan, cook, serve, and eat dinner for and with the G-House residents. 

Contact Sandy Rechtschaffen to sign up.

Search Site:

Rabbi Beth Singer's Kol Nidre Sermon on Social Justice and Racial Inequality


Rabbi Ryan Bauer's Yom Kippur Sermon on the Refugee Crisis


Hear From our Congregants 



© 2015 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511