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

Get Your Hands Dirty at Alemany Farm - August

Surfrider Beach Cleanups - July and August

American Red Cross' Interfaith Community Blood Drive - July 26

Special Tour of JFCS' L'Chaim Adult Day Health Center - August 25

Back to School Supply Drive - August 1 - September 30

Alcatraz Swim for Sight - September 28

Volunteer to Save a Life and be Inscribed in the Book of Life -October 4

Get Involved with Star Community Home -ongoing

Tutoring with Back on Track - ongoing

Experience Corps: Your Experience Matters - ongoing

Hebrew Free Loan - ongoing




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.

August 3 & 17

Learn More

Surfrider FoundationSurfrider Beach Cleanups

Summer 2014 at Ocean Beach and Baker Beach

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!

Beach clean-up 10am-12pm. Gloves, buckets, and grabbers are provided. No advance registration required. Come on down and help save the beach! Note: rain cancels clean-ups.

August 3 & 17, 10:00 am – noon
Ocean Beach -  Meet at stairwell 17, across the street from Beach Chalet Restaurant
July 26, and August 30, 10:00 am – noon
Baker Beach - Meet at picnic table near beach entrance

Learn More and see full calendar of dates at Surfrider

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 

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.

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.

Volunteer to Save a Life and be Inscribed in the Book of Life!

Volunteer for a two-hour shift on Saturday, October 4 between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm in the Temple Courtyard. Please register to volunteer at  Help congregants register for the National Bone Marrow Registry.Questions? Contact Community Engagement Director, Sandy Rechtschaffen at


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

Experience Corps Bay Area

Experience Corps, one of the nation’s most highly regarded service programs, engages older adult volunteers to help improve K-3 literacy in underserved schools. Experience Corps taps into the experience and dedication of older Americans who want to give back to their communities by volunteering to tutor or mentor youth.

Your Experience Matters
As a mature adult age 55 or over, you have much to offer your community—an open heart, a life full of rich experiences, and the willingness to make a difference in a child’s life. Experience Corps offers you the opportunity to connect, inspire, and encourage the well-being of young people through an intergenerational network designed to help students struggling with literacy. No previous experience necessary!

Questions? Contact Angela Kite, Recruitment/Intake Coordinator and Literacy Specialist at (415) 937-2485 or

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