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

Pledge to Vote Today with the World Zionist Organization - January 15 - April 30

Jewish Coalition for Literacy Seeks Volunteer Reading Tutors - November 18 - January 19

Volunteers Needed for Senior Community Chanukah Celebration! - December 22

Adopt-a-Family for Chanukah - November 19 - December 19

10 Things Food Banks Need But Won't Ask For - ongoing

Helping Others During the Holiday Season: Volunteer at Glide - ongoing

JCRC Seeks Pro-Bono Attorneys and Translators - ongoing

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


World Zionist Organization Elections

WZO elections are coming. We need all the ARZA votes we can get. Want to know more? Are you afraid you will forget to vite in January? Pledge to vote and ARZA will remind you.

Right now, Israel and the Jewish people are at a crucial moment in history. Our political and spiritual leaders in Israel need our help to determine the future of the Jewish State and the soul of the Jewish people.

Learn more here

Jewish Coalition for Literacy Seeks Volunteer Reading Tutors

In just one hour a week you can help a student learn to love reading. Take part in this rewarding tikkun olam program and help a child succeed. Find a free tutor training workshop near you or call one of the numbers below to register:

San Francisco: 415-369-9978 x105
Thursday, December 11, 1:00 - 4:00 pm, Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St.
Thursday, January 8, 5:30 - 8:30 pm, JCCSF, 3200 California St.

Peninsula: 415-369-9978 x107
Wednesday, December 10, 1:00 - 4:00 pm, Peninsula Temple Sholom, 1655 Sebastian Drive, Burligame
Monday, January 19, 10:00 - 1:00 pm, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

Volunteers Needed for Senior Community Chanukah Celebration, a program of Jewish Family and Children's Service

Monday, December 22, 11:30 - 2:30 pm, 2150 Post Street
Join Rabbi Carla Fenves, Jewish Family and Children's Services and the Emanu-El community to help seniors who live in and around the Tenderloin area of San Francisco celebrate Chanukah.

Volunteers are needed to help set up, serve lunch, schmooze with the guests, and clean up. Musical entertainment for all as well as lunch for volunteers is included. RSVP to Rabbi Daniel Isaacson at DanielI@JFCS.ORG

Free parking in garage (enter on Sutter Street) for all guests.

Adopt-a-Family for Chanukah

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. 

During Chanukah, please consider setting aside 1 night that goes to a family in need. Call or email Diana Contreras, Activity Coordinator at or call (415) 379-8690 to receive a family/child’s name electronically with their gift wish. This a a fabulous mitzvah to model with your children! 

All gifts must be purchased and dropped off to Star Community at 4350 Geary Blvd. at 8th Avenue (unwrapped and with the gift assignment attached) by Friday, December 19th? Contact Community Engagement Director, Sandy Rechtschaffen at or (415) 751-2541 x 177


10 Things Food Banks Need But Won't Ask For

Food Banks across the country are in need of certain items that you may not realize because they aren't essential items. Some of the items that food banks need are: spices, feminine products, chocolate, toiletries, canned meats, crackers and tortilla, soup packets, socks, and canned fruits. Please support your local food bank this winter season and bring your items to the food bins at Congregation Emanu-El. 


Helping Others During the Holiday Season: Volunteer at Glide

Nov 27-30: Thanksgiving Day/Weekend
Dec 25-Jan 1: Winter Break/New Year's
Many Emanu-El congregants seek volunteer opportunities during the holidays but unfortunately these available slots are the very first to be filled. On November 1, at 9:00am, Glide opens sign up to volunteer over the holidays for one of these coveted spots.

Visit the meals calendar at:

Age restrictions: During all meals and prep shifts, the minimum age to serve is 12. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the volunteer team at or (415) 674-6081

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.

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

And please note that the Temple has bins for clothing and household goods for St. Anthony's year-round, in the foyer near the Temple office.  St. Anthony's distributes donated goods free of charge to those in need. Receipts are available in the Temple office.

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:

December 6, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
December 13, 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:

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:

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