Social action

Team Kehillah 2013No matter what your age, abilities, or interests, you can make a difference through our Kehillah Social Action Committee. The committee has numerous ongoing programs that address issues in our community such as affordable housing and combating homelessness, immigrant and refugee rights, environmental justice, food security, living wages, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Mission and Values

Mission

To engage the Kehillah community in activities that reach out to those in need and advance social and economic justice, primarily at the local level, but not excluding issues at the state, national and global levels.

Values

  • “Every human being is created in the image of God” | B’tzelem Elohim Bara Oto – As Jews, we must act in a way that affirms the fundamental sacredness and dignity of every human being. Respect for each human being is the foundation of Jewish ethics.
  • “To do what is just and right” | La’asot Tzedek u’Mishpat – As Jews, we must work to create a society that is fair, equitable, and just.
  • “Do not oppress the stranger, orphan, or widow” | Ger, Yatom, v’Almananah Al Tonu – As Jews, we must engage in creating a society that cares for the economic well-being of all of its members, especially those who are most vulnerable.
  • Hope | Tikvah – As Jews, we create a better future because we believe that progress is always possible and within our capacity to realize.
  • Abundance | Shefa – In the biblical laws of property ownership, debt remission, and the sabbatical and Jubilee years, the Torah states clearly that our wealth and prosperity is not solely our own, but a gift from the Source of All. With our abundance comes a responsibility to steward our prosperity to bring God’s justice and compassion into the world.
  • Community | Kehillah – We build relationships where people help each other because individuals have a profound responsibility for the well-being of the whole. We seek to build relationships within the Kehillah, between the Kehillah and other institutions, and among Kehillah members and those in need that will help to repair the world (tikkun olam).
Contact Us

All congregants are invited to get involved with any of the programs and the Social Action committee.

For more information or to get involved with any of our programs, contact our committee chair at socialaction@kehillahsynagogue.org. You can also lead your own initiative and let the Kehillah work with you.

The Social Action Committee meets the second Sunday of the month at 10:00 a.m. at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Everyone is welcome!

Ongoing Projects

Parking for Good

Volunteers collect parking fees before UNC basketball games that are not on Shabbat. Revenue raised from this volunteer effort averages $8,000 per year. Revenue is apportioned as determined annually by the Social Action Committee. This year proceeds will be divided between the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services, Justice United and Habitat for Humanity. Three to four volunteers are needed to take money and direct cars to their parking spots, with one volunteer taking revenue to the Kehillah office To volunteer, access the online sign-up sheet here. or send an email to Ava Nackman.

Orange County Justice United

The Synagogue is a founding member of Justice United, which is an organization of faith-based communities that pushes for winnable social justice issues in Orange County. For more information visit Orange County Justice United. Synagogue members are invited to attend meetings to learn about current issues and help advocate for change.

Kehillah Racial Equity Team (KRET)

The purpose of KRET, sub-committee of Social Action, is to advance racial equity through reflection, community education, and action. The group hosts discussion sessions on current events, books, and articles. We also provide a list of recommended books, films, plays, trainings, and community events. 

For more information email kret@kehillahsynagogue.org.

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Orange County Bail/Bond Justice Project

The Kehilah Racial Equity Team, part of Kehillah Social Action, has partnered with the Orange County Bail/Bond Justice Project to help change unjust bail practices and to provide assistance to people who cannot afford to pay their bail.

As part of a much larger community partnership, KRET raised $18,000 to help assist people who cannot afford their bail.

Useful Links:

  1. More Information
  2. OCBBJ Court Observation Findings and Recommendations Report
  3. OCBBJ Findings and Recommendations Press Release
  4. OCBBJ WCHL Interview
  5. OCBBJ FAQ

Refugee Assistance

The Social Action Committee and Synagogue members assist as needed with refugee settlement needs in the community. The committee coordinates with the Refugee Resettlement Center in Carrboro to meet these needs.

Asylum Assistance

The Synagogue is supporting the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist  in its efforts to offer sanctuary to asylum seekers threatened with deportation.For more information contact Kathleen Rounds.

Interfaith Council for Social Service (IFC)

The Interfaith Council for Social Service (IFC) was founded in 1963 to confront the causes and respond to the effects of poverty in our community.

We prepare and serve lunch at the IFC Community Kitchen on the first Tuesday of the month from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. The work is easy and it’s fun to do it with other Kehillah members. It is also satisfying to serve food to people who need it; they’re friendly and grateful. If you’d like to help, please email Lew Margolis.

We take food donations throughout the year, using a collection box in the Chapel. The donated food goes to the food bank at the IFC. Click here for the food bank’s current non-perishable food needs.

We also have a food drive on Yom Kippur and deliver several truckloads of donated food to the IFC to feed the hungry in our community.

Tikkun Olam Fund

In the last newsletter, the Social Action Committee (SAC) announced that a Tikkun Olam Fund had been established to complement the Kehillah’s organizational/budgeted commitments and to create opportunities to extend our commitment to tzedakah. We’d like to apprise you of the criteria used to determine how allocations were made this year, what organizations received those allocations, and how you can make a proposal to the SAC regarding organizations you feel may be worthy of consideration for such allocations going forward.

The following criteria were used in determining allocations:

1. Organization addresses critical needs and/or social justice

2. Organization has a tax-exempt status

3. Allocation will have a significant impact in terms of number of people reached/types of services provided, and financial need of the organization

4. Orange and Chatham Counties will be given highest priority (synagogues in Durham County support organizations in their county).

Based on the criteria above and the money available in the fund at the time of distribution, the following organizations each received $1,000:

In Orange County

• Refugee Support Center (broadly serves refugees)

• Porch (food for families)

• Table (food for kids and their families)

• El Centro Hispano (serves immigrant community with utility bills, rent, other assistance)

• Club Nova (serves individuals with mental health challenges)

In Chatham County

• Chatham Outreach Alliance (which is analogous to the Interfaith Council for Social Services in Orange)

• Diaper Bank, Triangle branch (provides diapers, hygiene, and adult incontinence supplies).

In addition, a small allocation ($250) was made to the Immigrant Justice Initiative (IJI). Although the IJI does not impact as many people as the organizations above, the Synagogue Board voted to support the IJI and believes that providing care for asylum seekers fulfills the Jewish mandate to welcome the stranger.

The SAC welcomes your direct donations to the Tikkun Olam Fund (https://kehillahsynagogue.org/get-involved/donations/) and encourages you to complete the proposal form if you would like to suggest a worthy organization that could benefit from the Fund.

Annual Events

CROP Walk

Join Team Kehillah at the annual Chapel Hill/Carrboro CROP Hunger Walk. 25% of funds raised will benefit the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) to provide nourishment for Carrboro and Chapel Hill residents that are food insecure and in need. Church World Service will use the remaining funds for emergency food supplies, agricultural training, livestock, wells and pumps, farm seeds, and farm equipment in both the U.S. and globally.

 

The walk consists of a four mile loop, yet also has shorter loops so you can find the path that suits you and your family’s comfort level. And if you’re not a big fan of walking, you can help contribute other ways. The IFC always welcomes donations and volunteers.

Community Dinner

The Community Dinner is an annual community-building event that brings together people from diverse communities and cultures for a shared evening of food and entertainment. The date of the dinner, which is traditionally on a Sunday at 1 p.m. at McDougle School Crematorium, will be posted when available. Over the years, Kehillah Synagogue members have baked and contributed kugel as an example of Jewish food.  If you’d like to bake (recipes available) and/or attend, please email Hannah Chase.

MLK Banquet and Interfaith Service

The 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Banquet, which raises money for scholarships, will be held on Sunday January 19, at the Friday Center for Continuing Education. The reception begins at 5:00 p.m. and dinner at 6:00 p.m. Information can be found, and tickets purchased here.

This is a major event in the life of the Chapel Hill community and is attended by many civic, religious and business leaders. We are proud that the Kehillah is a donor and a sponsor; our presence makes an important statement about the Jewish community’s stake in our community’s civic life and our commitment to civil rights. It’s also an engaging evening with good food and a chance to mingle with a diverse group of movers and shakers in our community! 

The MLK Interfaith Service is organized by the Religious Affairs Committee of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP. The Kehillah is an active member of the committee. The service is held every year on the Monday MLK holiday at First Baptist Church at 11 a.m.

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