Social Justice

"It's never too late, too early, or too often to give back and make the world a better place."
                                                                                                                           - Helen Diller 

We invite you to explore ways you can enrich your life and deepen your connection to Judaism and the Emanu-El community through the mitzvah of helping others.

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


bike to worshipBike To Worship 2015

Saturday, May 30
As part of Bike Month in May, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members are working in partnership with the San Francisco Interfaith Council and California Interfaith Power & Light to create a Bike to Worship Week from May 24 to 31, 2015. 

This event gives our congregation and community members the opportunity to raise visibility of biking to worship and to make our communities safer and more pleasant places to live.  


A True Communal Sukkah at Emanu-El

This Fall, we’ll come together to celebrate the high holidays and conclude with Sukkot, our most joyous of all the festivals. Sukkot affirms our willingness to rejoice in the face of daily uncertainties and we make this real by building and dwelling in an impermanent shelter, the sukkah.

We are charged with the mitzvah to build a fragile, temporary home where we eat, sleep, study and dance together for eight festive days. We are beginning to prepare for our autumnal joy now and we need your help to do this. A congregation-based team of designers, architects and artists has convened to design a simple yet elegant, versatile dwelling that we can raise to the strength and splendor of the Lake Street courtyard.

If you wish to share your ideas and interest in building and decorating the Emanu-El sukkah or have professional or lay skills in structural engineering, carpentry, building or decorating, and want to support the effort, please contact Sandy Rechtschaffen, Community Engagement Director at or (415) 751-2541 x 177.

Volunteer to serve on the SF Civil Grand Jury

Application deadline, May 22, 2015

San Francisco Superior Court is seeking volunteers for the Civil Grand Jury. The Civil Grand Jury is the "watchdog" for the City and Country of San Francisco. The Civil Grand Jury investigates the operations of City government, including officials, departments and agencies. Each year, the Civil Grand Jury issues reports based on its findings. Those reports are heard before the Board of Supervisors. 

The Civil Grand Jury will serve from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

Learn more

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

Thursday, June 4, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

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.

Attend an upcoming training at the Temple led by fellow Emanu-El congregant, and JCL Reading Specialist, Joan Green. After the training you may select which local school works best for you. 

Sign up for a JCL Tutor Trainining in your area:

San Francisco
Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street
Thursday, June 4, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Kehillah Jewish Day School, 3900 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 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,

Become an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy

Exciting opportunity to serve with the Jewish Coalition for Literacy as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA anti-poverty program, and help advance childhood literacy in the Bay Area. Position is for a one-year service term beginning mid-July 2015 through mid-July 2016. VISTA members receive a monthly stipend are also eligible to receive either a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or an end-of-service cash stipend. Gain experience in non-profit management, make countless connections with community organizations and education professionals, and have the chance to live and serve in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most fascinating places in America to aim a critical eye at poverty.

Applicants must be college graduates.

For more information, visit the AmeriCorps VISTA website.

Join ‘Team Emanu-El' for the 2015 San Francisco AIDS Walk

Sunday, July 19, 10:00 AM
Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park

Since 1987, AIDS Walk San Francisco has raised $84 million for HIV programs and services in the Bay Area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in Northern California. In 2014, 20,000 participants, many of whom were members of nearly 700 corporate and community teams, raised more than $2.2 million for Bay Area AIDS service organizations. In 2015, AIDS Walk San Francisco will benefit Project Inform and dozens of other organizations that work to stop new infections and support people living with HIV/AIDS.

Can’t walk? Consider supporting an Emanu-El team walker with a donation!

Questions? Contact for more details.

Register today to join our team

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

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 2014 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 Regina Herbert, Membership Coordinator, at or call (415) 346-9316.

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.

Hebrew Free Loan

Need a little help? Hebrew Free Loan provides interest-free loans to Jewish residents in Northern California needing assistance or pursuing life-long dreams. Loan categories include: student, adoption, business, first-time home buyer, unemployment, emergency, debt consolidation, and more. Since 1897, Hebrew Free Loan has provided vital assistance to more than 100,000 people. By offering loans rather than charity, Hebrew Free Loan helps people become, and remain, self-sufficient.

Learn More  


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