Social Justice


Tzedek Council

The Congregation Emanu-El Tzedek Council is a congregant, board, and clergy run committee charged with the task of raising our participation and impact in the social justice arena.

This Council will work toward:

- Formalizing a social justice/social action mechanism that allows for multiple methods of engagement (e.g.,   direct service, education, advocacy efforts, financial contributions, etc.).           

- Ensuring that social justice/social action is a pillar of our Temple, on par with Education and Worship, and seamlessly integrated with ongoing education, worship, and congregational activities.

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


Learn More about the Tzedek Council Members

Read up on the Tzedek Council FAQs

Review the Tzedek Council Charter


Social Justice Request Form

Emanu-El and its congregants have a long history of Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World. We wish to share your good works with others. If you know of a congregant using their free time to make the world a better place, please fill out our form. This congregant could be one of our upcoming spotlights.

Volunteer Opportunities


Donate Toothbrushes and Toothpaste

September 30 - December 31, Temple Foyer

Next time you visit your dentist, please ask for a donation of supplies to help the homeless with their daily hygiene. Drop off donations in the bin in the Temple foyer.

All donations will be distributed during the Homeless Interfaith Shelter Dinners in January. Ask your dentist, orthodontist and periodontist to donate today!

San Francisco Interfaith Council Events

11th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service - Thursday, November 26, 10:00 am

World AIDS Day Service - Sunday, November 29, 6:00 pm

Holiday Dinner Drive

Send back your Turkey Envelopes! Please make all checks payable to the San Francisco & Marin Food Bank and mail to: Congregation Emanu-El, Two Lake Street, San Francisco, CA, 94118 or Donate online here and choose the Emanu-El Holiday Dinner Drive from the dropdown menu.

For the past nine years, Congregation Emanu-El has come together to support the San Francisco Food Bank and its mission to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin.

Please remember our appeal for the annual Holiday Dinner Drive (formerly the “Turkey Drive”) to benefit the clients of the San Francisco& Marin Food Bank by providing clients of food pantries a holiday dinner for Thanksgiving.

Institute on Aging Seeks New Volunteers

The Institute on Aging (IOA) is one of Northern California’s largest community-based nonprofit organization providing comprehensive health, social, and psychological services for seniors and adults with disabilities. IOA depends on volunteers to enhance its various programs. There are many diverse and flexible volunteer opportunities with IOA and we are currently seeking new volunteers across our program areas.

Volunteering with IOA’s Adult Day Programs is perfect for those individuals who enjoy socializing in a creative atmosphere. With operation Monday through Friday, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm, volunteers can come in for a full day or three hour shifts. Our program utilizes direct service with an older adult population afflicted by dementia to enhance the quality of life through engagement. Volunteers converse with participants and actively participate in the day’s activities. We are actively seeking friendly visitors that are looking to connect with others. IOA is also very interested in volunteers with creative talents you wish to share with the center (music, art, etc.).

If you would like to explore the possibility of volunteering with the Institute on Aging, please contact Susanne Revutsky, IOA Volunteer Coordinator, 415-750-4102,

The Friendship Line at Institute on Aging is the nation’s only accredited 24-hour toll-free hotline for older adults and adults with disabilities. Trained volunteers at The Friendship Line make and receive calls to and from individuals who are either in crisis or just in need of a compassionate voice. For many individuals, the Friendship Line is the only connection they have. Help us be that lifeline of hope for those who are often forgotten.

Upcoming training dates for Friendship Line volunteers are:
November 7th 9-6pm
November 8th 9-6pm

NOTE: before attending a training, a one on one interview is required with Volunteer Coordinator, Tim Riel,

Become a JCL Tutor - A Window of Hope: The Jewish Coalition for Literacy

Today in America, more than 40 million adults have low literacy rates. Many individuals can sign their names, but they might not be able to fill out an application, understand the labels on their prescription medications or locate an intersection on a map. Just imagine how lives are affected by a skill we all take for granted. Furthermore, they are also likely to have children with low literacy skills, because they are not able to act as models for their own sons and daughters. And these children are twice as likely to drop out of school.

Sign up for a JCL Tutor Trainining in your area:

San Francisco
Congregation Beth Sholom, 301 14th Avenue
Wednesday, Dec 2, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

JCCSF, 3200 California Street
Tuesday, January 5, 2016, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Temple Beth El, 1700 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Monday, January 18, 2016, 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills
Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Research confirms what is intuitively obvious: working with children early in their lives will help them overcome struggles in literacy. Even the simple act of reading to a child can have a great impact on future learning.

In this context, you can open a window of hope for a public school child experiencing difficulty in learning to read. The Jewish Coalition for Literacy, a joint project of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma, trains volunteers to tutor reading to children in kindergarten through third grade. The commitment is one hour a week for the academic year at a time and a school site convenient for you. Many members of Temple Emanu-El are current JCL tutors. 

In the words of one volunteer: "My tutoring provides a 'window of hope', a glimpse not only of our better selves but of a potentially better society, one built on individual acts of kindness."

Questions? Contact Bay Area Director and Emanu-El Congregant Randi Dodick Fields (415) 369-9978 x102,

beach in HagbahInterfaith Shelter Dinners
Monday, January 25, 2016 - Monday, February 1, 2017

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco

Volunteer to cook during our winter Interfaith Shelter Dinners. Each January Congregation Emanu-El joins in the mitzvah of feeding the hungry by providing volunteers to shop, cook and serve dinner to more than 100 homeless men for eight consecutive nights. These clients are extremely grateful to receive home-cooked meals served by people who look them in the eye and let them know they care. Under the coordination of long-time congregant Shabana Siegel, every constituent group from the Congregation particpates (more than 150 volunteers every year)! Each Temple group brings a unique flavor to the evening and takes home unforgettable memories. 
Sign up by contacting Shabana at:
Cooking And Serving Groups:

Beyachad - Monday, January 25

Tribe and Preschool - Tuesday, January 26

Adolescent Education - Wednesday, January 27

Men's Group - Thursday, January 28

Congregant Night - Friday, January 29

Interfaith - Saturday, January 30

Young Adult Community - Sunday, January 31

Congregant Night - Monday, February 1 

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 2015 marks the twenty-fifth 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.

JCRC Seeks Pro-Bono Attorneys and Translators

We have seen harrowing news about thousands of unaccompanied minors fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Children of all ages, including toddlers,  who endure horrific experiences on their journey to the United States. They come in hopes of finding their families and searching for a life without fear and violence. Once in the United States they need legal assistance as they go through the scary and confusing process of trying to get refugee status in order to stay in the United States.

As Jews, our own legacy as immigrants, frequently as refugees, coupled with our values of tikkun olam and welcoming the stranger propel us to take action. Hundreds of kids right here in the Bay Area need our help as they await deportation hearings in court.

Our partners at Legal Services for Children need pro bono attorneys and translators. Please email for more details.

Provide Respite Care at the Star Community Home in the Richmond District!

Tuesdays 7:00-8:00 pm

The Star Community Home is an 18-month project to address the critical community need of providing housing and services to homeless single mothers with children at the former convent at Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco. Spend quality time with the Children of Star Community Home while allowing mothers some time for themselves. If you are experienced and willing to work with infants, toddlers and young children, then this is the volunteer opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Contact Diana Contreras at (415) 379-8690.

Learn More

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 



© 2012 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511