Jews for Social Action

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!  

Read the 2017 JSA Report


Aboriginal Support Group

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.

Asylum Seeker Support

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.

Read a recent Thank You letter received from the Asylum Seekers Centre

Scotts Creek Creekcare

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.

Kiva Micro-Credit Lending Team

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.

"I Speak My Mind" Talks

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. Stay tuned for information about upcoming events!

Biala Hostel Homework Program

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.

Livracha - A New NSTE Initiative

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.

Livracha for Purim

Our Livracha or "for a blessing” program continues with the Festival of Purim.  Many thanks to those who donated cooking oil for the Asylum Seekers Centre over Chanukah. It was greatly appreciated by those who use their Foodbank.

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.  This is particularly emphasised at Purim. While our texts speak of feasting and rejoicing at Purim due to our people’s survival (thanks to Esther), they also encourage matanot l’evyonim—"gifts to the poor.”

It is a time-honoured Purim tradition for children to have fun during the reading of the Megillah text, the Book of Esther.  As part of NSTE’s Livracha (“For a Blessing”) program, we are collecting: 

  • children’s activity books
  • colouring books (for children and adults) 
  • word search books 
  • books with puzzles and games
  • coloured pencils

Items placed in our Livracha basket in the foyer will be donated to WEAVE Youth & Community Services, which works with disadvantaged and vulnerable people, including indigenous families in the City of Sydney and South Sydney areas.  Please share the spirit of Purim by participating in our collection between now and mid-March.  All items must be new.

Todah Rabbah!  

For further information, please contact

Read more about the program here


Jews for Social Action has come of age 

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.