Social Justice

"Wake me up, God; ignite my passion, fill me with outrage. Remind me that I am responsible for Your world. Don't allow me to stand idly by. Inspire me to act. Teach me to believe that I can repair some corner of this world." - Rabbi Naomi Levy

Congregation Emanu-El is involved with many projects related to hunger, the environment, literacy, and poverty. Emanu-El received the Irving J. Fain Award for overall social action, 2007. Irving J. Fain was a passionate proponent of social justice and served for a decade as Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. The Fain Awards, established in 1983 in his honor and memory, are awarded every two years to congregations whose work in the area of social justice is exemplary.

Our congregation’s greening program earned a “Conservation Champion Award" (Union of Reform Judaism) and a Green Oscar from Interfaith Power and Light for energy efficiency improvements.

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

Volunteer Opportunities

Seeking Volunteers for an Quick, Yet Meaningful Mitzvah! - ongoing

10 Days. 10 Questions. Participate in 10Q - September 24

Alcatraz Swim for Sight - September 28

Back to School Supply Drive - August 1 - September 30

Gift of Life - October 4

One Warm Coat - ongoing

Candlestick Point Eco-Steward Volunteers - ongoing

Surfrider Beach Cleanups -ongoing

Get Your Hands Dirty at Alemany Farm -ongoing

Get Involved with Star Community Home - ongoing

Tutoring with Back on Track - ongoing

Hebrew Free Loan - ongoing




Seeking Volunteers for an Quick, Yet Meaningful Mitzvah!
For several years our congregants have been reaching out to others in our community with handwritten cards to let them know we are thinking of them. Volunteers receive a request from the Temple 1-2 each month with all the necessary information as well as a general template.

Write a Condolence Card: Hand write a condolence card to a fellow congregant upon notification of a death in the family. 1-2 times each month.  

Write a Birthday Card: Hand write a birthday card to a fellow congregant upon notification of a birthday for those 85 and older. 1-2 times each month. 

To volunteer, please email Community Engagement Director, Sandy Rechtschaffen at or call (415) 751-2541 x 177


10 Days. 10 Questions. Participate in 10Q.

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days for reflection. 10Q gives you the opportunity to reflect on this past year privately or publicly. Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It's your 10Q. When you're finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection. Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that too.

Sign up by September 24 to get started. 

AlcatrazJoin Rabbi Ryan Bauer in the 3rd Annual Alcatraz Swim for Sight

Sunday, September 28, 2014, 7:00 – 10:30 am

Congregants Ron and Lorie Hirson will host the 3rd Annual “Alcatraz Swim for Sight.” We invite courageous swimmers to conquer the 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz to the shores of San Francisco to help eliminate eye disease and blindness worldwide. Everyone is welcome to celebrate our efforts at a post swim breakfast at Temple Emanu-El, Two Lake Street at Arguello.

Read Lorie's story.

Register now

All funds raised will go to That Man May See (TMMS), the fundraising arm of University of California, San Francisco, Opthalmology Department. Learn more.

Back-to-School Supply Drive

August 1 - September 30, Temple Foyer

 "Do not let him slip until he falls completely, for then it will be difficult to raise him; rather, strengthen him as he begins to fall." - Rashi, Leviticus 25:35 Cf. Torat Kohanim, Sifre Behar, Chapter 5

Help all children get a stand tall with a fresh start in school! Drop off school supply donations by September 30 in the Temple Foyer. All supplies will be distributed to our community partner, Back on Track, at Third Baptist Church.

Supplies requested include, gender neutral backpacks, spiral notebooks, markers, pens, zippered pencil pouches, highlighters, #2 pencils, colored pencils, and glue sticks.

Questions? Contact Community Engagement Director, Sandy Rechtschaffen, at or call (415) 751-2541 x 177 

Swab a Cheek, Save a Life

Saturday, October 4, 2014, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Temple Courtyard

This year we will be running a bone marrow drive in conjunction with Gift of Life. For those suffering from blood cancers and genetic diseases a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is their only hope for a cure.


Surfrider FoundationOne Warm Coat - Donate a Coat this Winter

It looks like there's a cold winter ahead! The Farmers' Almanac forecast for this winter predicts below-normal temperatures for three-quarters of the country. That means that too many children and adults will be facing Fall and Winter without a warm coat.  Of course, you can help change that. Consider organizing your own One Warm Coat drive or simply donate coats to a drive this upcoming winter season. 

Learn more


Surfrider FoundationCandlestick Point Eco-Stewards

Volunteers like you make a tangible and lasting impact on the land and community, and are absolutely critical to advancing this restoration and community development. Standing work days at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area Native Plant Nursery and Community Garden are the first and second Saturday and fourth Friday of every month. Wear appropriate clothing; gloves and tools provided. All ages welcome. 

Upcoming dates:

September 13, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
September 26, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Learn more

Questions? Contact Anthony Khalil at or call (415) 240-0984.


Surfrider FoundationSurfrider Beach Cleanups

Ocean Beach and Baker Beach, 10:00 am - noon, unless otherwise noted

San Francisco Surfrider hosts multiple beach cleanups each month at Ocean Beach and Baker Beach. Volunteers are their greatest asset. And all you have to do is show up! Gloves, buckets, and grabbers are provided. No advance registration required. Come on down and help save the beach! Note: rain cancels clean-ups.

Upcoming dates:

Sept 20, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Sept 27, Baker Beach
Oct 5, Ocean Beach
Oct 19, Ocean Beach
Oct 25, Baker Beach
Nov 2, Ocean Beach
Nov 16, Ocean Beach
Nov 29, Baker Beach
Dec 7, Ocean Beach
Dec 21, Ocean Beach
Dec 27, Baker Beach

Learn More and see full calendar of dates at Surfrider

Alemany FarmGet Your Hands Dirty at Alemany Farm

700 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco
First and third Sundays of each month, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Wedged between the whir of traffic on Alemany Boulevard and the homes of Bernal Heights is a little-known, 4 1/2-acre plot of land on the forefront of the nation's urban farm movement called Alemany Farm. Everyone, young or old, experienced or still learning, is welcome to join these community workdays the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month.

Upcoming dates:

September 21
October 17
November 7
November 21
December 5
December 19

Learn More

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  

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