Social Justice

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

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

Seeking Volunteers for JFCS Community Seder

Wednesday, April 15, 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 2150 Post Street
Volunteer to help with a festive, traditional Passover Seder led by Rabbi Daniel Isaacson of Jewish Family and Children Services. Volunteers will help set-up seder, serve the lunch, help guests feel comfortable, and clean up.

Co-sponsored by B'nai B'rith Men and Congregation Emanu-El.

RSVP to Francine Bondell at (415)499-1258 or by Monday, April 6.

It's Walk to Work Day on April 9

Join the movement on Thursday, April 9 — walking just 15 minutes of your commute counts! Be a part of this fun and festive day of encouragement celebrating the most healthy, sustainable form of transportation: walking.

Follow Walk SF on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or sign up for our enewsletter for updates. When you do, you can enter to win one of the random drawing giveaways via postcard, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Exciting contest and drawing prizes from indosole, Public Bikes, Rickshaw Bagworks, Sports Basement, Whistle and Whole Foods Market.

Start your healthy walking habit and get rewarded at one of the Walk to Work Day “hubs” across the city. Stop by for a FREE Clipper Card, totes, coffee, or breakfast snack, and much more!

Learn more

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

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

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. 

To sign up please go to

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. 

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."

Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL)

JCL tutors provide one-on-one reading support for struggling readers (grades K-3) from low-income homes. To become a JCL tutor, you must attend an initial three-hour training and orientation session (see sign-up schedule below). No previous tutoring experience is necessary!

Volunteers typically work one-on-one with a child or provide read-aloud sessions for small groups. JCL tutors are asked to make a commitment of one-hour per week for the duration of the school year, but many find they wish to do much more!

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

Sign up for a JCL Tutor Training in your area:

San Francisco
Congregation Beth Israel Judea, 625 Brotherhood Way
Thursday, April 23, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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

East Bay
Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave, Berkeley
Monday, April 20, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Congregation B'nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Ln, Walnut Creek
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City
Tuesday, April 14, 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


Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California Advocacy Day

Monday May 11 - Tuesday May 12, 2015, Sacramento

Help us guarantee a vibrant civil society by standing up for those on the margins. We all have a desire to make the world a better place, and Advocacy Day is a rare opportunity to do so directly. Advocacy Day provides an organized and efficient way to meet multiple representatives and/or their staff at the State Capitol to discuss issues of critical importance to California's Jewish community. 


World Zionist Organization Elections

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.  Stand for a better Israel by casting your vote!

Voting in the WZO elections is now OPEN, and you can make your voice heard by voting right now! We need all the ARZA votes we can get. Want to know more? 

Learn more! 

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

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