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


To engage the Kehillah community in activities that reach out to those in need and advance social and economic justice at the local, national and global levels.


  • “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

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

The Social Action Committee meetings in 2018-2019 will be held on:

  • September 9th

  • October 14th

  • November 11th

  • December 9th

  • January 13th

  • February 10th

  • March 10th

  • April 14th

  • May 20th

All meetings are at 9:30am or 10:00am at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Check the Kehillah calendar for exact meeting times. Everyone is welcome!

Hot Topics


Join Team Kehillah at the 32nd 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 2019 walk is scheduled for Sunday, March 24, at 2:30pm at Carrboro Town Commons.

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.

Habitat For Humanity Build

Seeking to put love and faith into action, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County brings people together to build homes, community, and hope.

Last year, we participated in Habitat’s “Building on Faith” inter-faith effort to build affordable housing in Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood, near downtown Chapel Hill. Several Kehillah members have already participated and report that it is hard work, great fun, and rewarding.

The final Sunday Interfaith Habitat for Humanity build is April 14th, from 8:15 to noon. The build is at 301 College Park Rd in Hillsborough, near the UNC Hospital. This is a new senior (65+) community of town homes being developed by Habitat. Information about the community is in the attached file. 

Please join me in the fun and satisfaction of working with others to provide affordable, quality housing for seniors in our community. Others from Judea Reform and possibly Hillel will be there, too. 

While this build is open to all members of the Interfaith community, Habitat has implemented Sunday builds specifically to meet the needs of the Jewish community for weekend builds not on Shabbat. It is important that we staff these builds so that Habitat can continue holding them. 

Seven open slots remain. Let’s help fill them! You can sign up to volunteer at

Please email Lee Nackman if you have any questions.

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.

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

learn more
Refugee Assistance

A new Syrian refugee family has just arrived and Church World Service (CWS) has settled them in our community. The Refugee Center Support Center in Carrboro has asked if our congregation can help in the following ways:

1. Right now they need some household and kitchen items including: 

  • silverware
  • plates, cups/mugs, glasses
  • cooking pots and oven pans
  • frying pans 
  • sharp knives
  • wall clock and batteries
  • kettle
  • drying towels
  • garlic press
  • clothing iron 
  • TV (biggest request of all)
  • sheets (will get sizes later if you decide you can assist)
  • pillows (they have two thread bare pillows)
  • blankets
  • lamps
  • bath towels 

2. For the next two weeks CWS will provide transportation for the family but after that it would be helpful to have volunteers provide transportation for appointments and grocery shopping.

If you are interested in donating or helping with transportation please email Kathleen Rounds. She is willing to pick up from you directly or you can drop off your items at Kehillah. 


While Kehillah does not offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, in Spring of 2018 the board passed a motion to support our neighbor sanctuary congregation. The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist provides shelter, food, tutoring, and other resources to support and protect our community members threatened with deportation. To get involved email Kathleen Rounds.

Other Projects

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 2019 dinner is on Sunday, April 28, at 1pm at McDougle Schools Cafetorium. 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.

Furniture Project

We are happy to co-sponsor this community-wide, volunteer based charitable outreach. The ecumenical project collects gently used furniture, provides a Tax Donation Receipt, and delivers to the family in need that has been referred by an advocate or service organization. Over 2000 donors have helped since May 2012, and over 850 families and individuals have been furnished. To get involved email Jane Hathaway.

learn more
Medicaid Expansion

The NC General Assembly has declined to accept Federal funding to expand Medicaid, the health insurance program for poor North Carolinians, leaving hundreds of thousands without medical coverage, threatening the viability of some of our rural hospitals, and losing thousands of medical care jobs throughout the state. We work with Carolina Jews for Justice and others to advocate for expansion of Medicaid in NC.  For more information, please email Jonathan Kotch.

The Kehillah Synagogue Board approved a resolution in March 2016 advocating for the expansion of Medicaid.

MLK Banquet and Interfaith Service

The 2019 annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Banquet was held on Sunday, January 20. 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 11am.

learn more
Orange County Justice United

Orange County Justice United (JU) is a broad based community power organization that develops civil sector leaders with the capacity to organize and win. You can be a part of their social action efforts by attending JU assemblies and participating in local issues such as a affordable housing, immigrant rights, environmental justice, and living wages.

Parking for Good

Last year we raised about $8,000 to distribute to our local partner charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Justice United (JU), and the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC) by parking cars in our lot during UNC men’s basketball games. The job entails collecting fees as people enter the lot and ensuring that people park in proper spaces (you do not park anyone’s car.) We need 3-4 fee collectors per game, with at least one collector, preferably two, who can stay until 15 minutes after the game start time, and one collector who can deliver the funds to our Kehillah office. To sign up for volunteer slots click here. For more information email Ava Nackman.

Project Solarize Kehillah

In 2015 we completed our project to help fight global climate change by installing solar panels to generate about 75% of our electricity use. You can also monitor our power production by clicking here.

learn more
Reduction of Gun Violence

Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns, including seven children and teens. Americans are 20 times more likely than people in other developed countries to be murdered with a gun. We know too well the toll that gun violence has taken in North Carolina and even in Chapel Hill. If you’d like to participate in efforts to reduce gun violence, please email Judy Panitch.