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Social Action

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

– Rabbi Hillel

In keeping with Rabbi Hillel’s iconic statement and the spirit of Tikkun Olam, we strive to repair the world by helping our local and global communities, to work against injustice in all its forms, and to care for the natural environment that supports us all.

At TI, tikkun olam has traditionally meant a hands-on approach and for more than twenty years our Social Action Committee has sponsored a wide spectrum of thriving projects.  Our commitment to tikkun olam – healing and repairing the world – is a natural outgrowth of Tifereth Israel’s progressive concern for both the local community and world around us. While we emphasize directly helping those in need, we also support social justice activism and activities to protect the environment.

We welcome you to join us for a one-time event, a more regular activity and to our monthly Social Action committee meetings. Upcoming events are listed regularly in the Menorah, and our monthly meetings are on the TI calendar and announced via the TI listserv approximately one week prior. Current activities are listed below, and anyone can always reach out to for further information. We welcome your ideas and energy for new social action projects!

Starting in 2023 through New Neighbors Interfaith Alliance (NNIA) Tifereth Israel members have been supporting a family from Afghanistan who have settled in Montgomery County, MD. Support has included babysitting, driving family members to doctor and other appointments, finding childcare and summer activities for children, and more. In addition, the Social Action Committee has earmarked funds to support the family and other families helped by NNIA as needs arise. If you would like to donate money to the Marvin Caplan Fund specifically to help immigrant families, please make sure to specify this when donating. Learn more about TI's refugee resettlement work.

Tifereth Israel members deliver holiday groceries to 70 or more members of the Jewish community in need just prior to Rosh Hashana and Pesach. The Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) runs this program, including buying the groceries and identifying families and individuals to receive them. In addition to delivering groceries, the Tifereth Israel Social Action Committee donates money to JSSA annually from the Marvin Caplan fund to support this program.

Every year at Kol Nidre, Tifereth Israel congregants empty the money from their pockets before entering the sanctuary, and we donate the money to a worthy cause. This year’s recipient is Mosaic Visions. The mission of Mosaic Visions is to form an inclusive space that generates visibility for marginalized and underrepresented Jews of Color (JOCs) within the Global Jewish community through advocacy, awareness, and education. By facilitating diversity, inclusion, racial equity, and social action, both within the Jewish community and beyond, Mosaic Visions also seeks to strengthen the bonds and alliances between the Jewish People and other impacted communities of Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC), forever advancing towards shared Visions of socially just and tolerant societies.

For over 20 years, adults and teenagers from Tifereth Israel have tutored students from our local public elementary school, Shepherd Elementary. Each tutor is paired with a young student (grade K-6), with oversight by the program coordinators. Tutoring takes place for an hour on Sunday evenings at Tifereth Israel, and includes reading, practicing math skills, and help with homework. This weekly hour can make a tremendous difference in the academic performance of participating students by reinforcing skills learned in school. Students in grades 6-12 as well as adults can volunteer to be tutors.

The Tifereth Israel Gun Violence Prevention group focuses on engaging Tifereth Israel members in activities that would help decrease or eliminate gun use and violence in our community. In collaboration with the local Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention Network (IGVN), activities include supporting legislation such as Jaelynn’s Law (passed 2023) in Maryland which requires secure storage of all guns locked and unloaded with high penalties if the guns are accessible to those l8 or younger; Maryland legislation that would ensure gun manufacturer accountability; and stopping advertisements of real guns for kids by gun manufacturers; products. In DC, there has been an effort to oppose proposed budget cuts from the two DC offices charged with fighting gun violence. The IGVN also connects with activities of Moms Demand Action. Join us for the monthly IGVN online meetings or other activities.

Join the Tifereth Israel community on 16th Street every Friday evening from 5-6pm to stand in solidarity with Black lives. Bring yourself and a sign or get a sign from one of the organizers when you get there. Vigils began in June 2020 and have continued every week since. Read more about this vigil in the Washington Jewish Week here.

Each year, on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, the Social Action Committee organizes a Social Justice Shabbaton program. These programs are dedicated to MLK and his lifelong pursuit of social justice.

Join Tifereth Israel’s SEAChange and work alongside other area shuls to advance social justice! In the summer of 2022, Tifereth Israel joined several other Montgomery County synagogues (Washington Hebrew, Tikvat Israel, Adat Shalom, Shaarei Torah) and one Baltimore based congregation (Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom) as part of the second SEAChange cohort in the Washington region. SEAChange is a program of the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network (JOIN) which commits participating congregations to Study, Engage and Act (hence SEA + Change) to combat racial inequity through the combined strength of our communities.

Through a process of study, conversation, and interview, the synagogues collectively selected Action in Montgomery (AIM) and Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) as organizational partners to help guide the work of the congregations. In 2023, the congregations have gone to AIM advocacy trainings, attended an interfaith action with Montgomery County Councilmembers and the County Executive, worked with AIM and IPL to lobby our legislators in Annapolis on climate justice, supported the Montgomery County rent stabilization bill (which capped rent increases at a maximum of 6% to ensure that no landlord could impose precipitous rent hikes) and joined with IPL in testing for gas leaks in some members’ homes and in hosting a solar energy workshop to introduce options for purchasing solar, including a buying co-op.

We invite you to participate in setting our agenda for the coming year!

Tue, May 28 2024 20 Iyyar 5784