Temple Beit Shem Tov

Note: This page is still under construction. We shall soon be adding further information and links showing why our Board of Elders has chosen to sponsor the nonprofit organizations listed above and how you can help support the vital work they are doing to help feed, clothe and empower those who are in need because of institutionalized, structural poverty and social injustice.

If you are interested in working as a part of our efforts to support these worthy projects, or if you would like to serve on the Social Justice Committee, email Reb YaNYaL at: YaNYaL@beitshemtov.org with "Social Justice" in the subject line.

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"Reform Jews are committed to social justice. Even as Reform Jews embrace ritual, prayer, and ceremony more than ever, we continue to see social justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish crown. Like the prophets, we never forget that God is concerned about the everyday and that the blights of society take precedence over the mysteries of heaven. A Reform synagogue that does not alleviate the anguish of the suffering is a contradiction in terms."  - Rabbi Eric Yoffie, speech to the UAHC Executive Committee, February 1998

As Jews and righteous gentiles in the House of Israel we are commanded to engage in Tikkun Olam, "repair of the world."  Simply put, this means that over the course of our lifetimes, we must diligently work to make the world a better place.  In doing this we justify God's decision to grant us life here in this world.
Tzedakah, which is usually translated as "charity," actually means "righteousness."  It is derived from the same ancient root as the word "tzedek," which means "justice."  Therefore,  the concepts of charity, righteousness and justice are inextricably linked.

The Torah is explicit in its commandment.  " Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof!  Justice, justice shall you pursue!" (Deut.16:20).  But how do we go about this?  First, we develop in ourselves the divine middot (attributes) of Chesed (Loving-kindness) and Rachamim (Compassion), by engaging in G'milut chasidim - acts of kindness.  We simply cannot obey the commandment to "love our fellow as we love our self" (Lev. 19:18) at the same time we violate the prohibition against "standing idly by while he is in need" (Lev. 19:16)  We are required to share the burdens of others by feeding the hungry, clothing and housing the poor, finding jobs for the unemployed.  We must give not only our money, but our time.

But this is only one half of the equation. As Rabbi Yoffie said in the speech cited above,  "It is good and right that we reach into the river of despair and rescue people who are drowning. But, there comes a time when you need to move upstream and see who's throwing them in. Amos said: "Let justice roll down like the waters." [ Justice, he said, and not charity, and for good reason. Because while charity alleviates the effects of poverty, justice seeks to eliminate its cause." (Ibid.)
Scales of Righteousness
Worthy Causes
Compassionate Giving
Social Activism
But let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5.24