North Shore Temple Emanuel
a Progressive Jewish Congregation
Jews for Social Action (JSA) offers the opportunity to embody the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) by helping others and getting involved in social action. We take a hands-on approach and work towards social justice.
You are invited to join us in our projects, which are outlined below.
We meet on the fourth Monday of every month at 7.30pm at NSTE.
Please call the NSTE Office on 9419 7011 and let us know you're coming along!
JSA's Aboriginal Support Group runs several projects centered on education and literacy. Learn about the Early Support Aboriginal Literacy Project, the Remote Outback Reading Project, and the Aboriginal Experience here.
We honour the Jewish value of welcoming strangers by supporting the Asylum Seekers Centre, Settlement Services International, and Music for Refugees. Learn about these projects here.
Scotts Creek Creekcare is the environmental group of NSTE, and is part of the Willoughby Council Bushcare volunteer program. We meet once a month on a Sunday morning working along the banks of Scotts Creek, which flows past NSTE into Middle Harbour. Find out more here.
JSA supports Kiva, a micro-credit initiative, that helps to put lenders in touch with people in the developing world who can benefit from small loans. JSA formed a Kiva ‘lending team’ as a way of connecting with other people who are interested in doing something to fight poverty. Our team currently has over 30 members and has made over 850 loans, totaling around $30,000. Join the JSA lending team via the Kiva website.
JSA also runs a series of talks at NSTE where prominent people speak on social justice issues. Past speakers have included Julian Burnside, Bill Crews, Kerryn Phelps, Frank Brennan, Cate Faehrmann, and Lisa Jackson-Pulver. Themes have included racism, depression, Aboriginal disadvantage, population growth and refugees. The series includes an annual “The Aboriginal Experience”, which is part of the Guringai Festival.
Biala Hostel is for Aboriginal girls from the country to board during the school term so they can attend high school in Sydney. Volunteer tutors in this program visit the hostel in Allambie Heights on Sunday afternoons to help the girls with their school homework. We also organise outings for the girls so they can enjoy their time at Biala. It’s also a good chance for tutors to interact with the girls in a social setting.
This program is coordinated jointly with Stand Up. It’s been running since 2010 and we’ve had positive feedback from Biala about the impact on the girls’ schoolwork and grades.
Facilitated by JSA, NSTE has established a new social action initiative called Livracha (pronounced Leev-ra-KHAH) - meaning “for a blessing”. In conjunction with, and inspired by, each of the Jewish festivals we celebrate throughout the year, we will be collecting items at NSTE for people in need. We will continue, for instance, our Mazon food collection for the hungry, during the High Holy Days. If you have an idea for a collection in association with a certain festival, please let us know, so we can try to work it into the Livracha cycle.
Please think of our Livracha collections when you come to shul for services, committee meetings, Hebrew School, b’nei mitzvah lessons, Israeli dancing, or other reasons.
Our livracha or "for a blessing” program continues with the Festival of Pesach.
The Torah instructs us that in the midst of our most joyous times - our festival celebrations - we mustn't forget those in need, but share our abundance with them. Pesach reminds us that the Jewish people spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness without a home, so at this time we think of how we can assist the homeless among us in Sydney.
We welcome donations in the basket in the NSTE foyer of:
We will be donating these to the Salvation Army's Oasis Youth Support Network, who work with young people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds aged 16-25 years, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.
We look forward to sharing the celebration of Pesach with others less fortunate.
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Julia Selby
Last week was a busy week for tikkun olam at NSTE facilitated by our Jews for Social Action.
In addition to a team serving lunch at the Asylum Seekers Centre on Tuesday, over 50 people came to NSTE on Wednesday to hear an inspiring talk by Dorothy Hoddinott AO, (pictured) Principal of Holroyd High School under the "I Speak My Mind" banner.
Ms Hoddinott spoke about human rights in the classroom, drawing on her experiences with individual students at her school as well as describing the big picture.
On Friday, Lewis Klipin arranged for a group of clients from the Asylum Seekers Centre to visit the Australian Maritime Museum. Gerald and Anne Holder organised lunch and provided ice creams for the children, while Lewis took the adults on a tour of the museum collection.
On Sunday, as part of JSA’s CreekCare project, a team planted seedlings in the Scotts Creek area of Muston Park. Stormwater from NSTE flows into this area and the team has been working on regeneration for several years with the support of Willoughby Council. The livracha basket in the foyer continues to be available for donations of items such as toiletries, underwear and socks to be provided to the homeless through the Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Support Program, as we share our festival of Pesach with others less fortunate. Thank you to those who have already contributed.
By John Balint (November 2017)
Some 16 years ago when we formed the group Jews for Social Action (JSA) to carry out Tikkun Olam at the North Shore Temple Emanuel, we did not envisage the number and scale of successful social justice programs that would eventuate and also how these programs would assist in transforming the attitude of the congregation in regards to performing Tikkun Olam.
Interestingly, when JSA was initiated the two key social justice areas that the inaugural members were interested in were Aboriginal issues and asylum seeker issues, issues which now form the backbone of our activities.
The early intervention Aboriginal Literacy program now supports 18 children in seven primary schools in the northern areas of Sydney with the support of 18 volunteers. This program aims to ensure that young Aboriginal children do not fall by the wayside in their schooling due to a lack of reading skills. Alongside this we have developed a once a fortnight homework tutoring program for Aboriginal girls of high school age staying at the Biala hostel in Sydney, and another program that assists in Aboriginal children’s literacy by sending Australian Geographic magazines to schools in remote outback communities. We currently send these magazines to schools in the Kimberly, the Pilbara, Arnhem land, Central Australia, Torres Strait and northern New South Wales. (Any Australian Geographic magazines would be gratefully accepted as “the children just love them, they are their favourite reading material, reading about all the different animals”)
The asylum seeker support program has for over 10 years been making, taking and serving lunch at the Newtown Asylum Seekers Centre every Tuesday. This now involves some 25 volunteers in seven teams making lunch for over 30 asylum seekers. As well we also conduct outings for asylum seekers from the Centre to places such as the Zoo and the Maritime Museum. We also support refugee services provider SSI.
We decided that we should have an environmental arm as well, so for the last five years we have been running a Creekcare group under the auspices of the Willoughby Council Bushcare program, meeting once a month to rehabilitate the creek banks along Scotts Creek in Chatswood (a creek that commences at the North Shore Temple Emanuel).
More recently, we have introduced bar and bat mitzvah students to the Kiva micro credit loan scheme which helps people in developing countries around the world. This has opened their eyes to a world of people taking advantage of micro credit loans to better themselves, and they have discovered that a loan of just $25 can make a real difference.
But the real success of these programs has been the creation of so many opportunities for volunteers within and outside our NSTE community to get involved in Tikkun Olam, creating a real sense of empowerment and purpose in their lives. JSA has really come of age, but it is the volunteers that made it happen.
For more information, please contact Jews for Social Action.