Category Archives: Social Action/Tikkun Olam

URJ on Hurricane Sandy Relief

Donate Now

Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the United States, doing billions of dollars in damage, causing dozens of deaths, and leaving more than 7.5 million people without power. As the storm was downgraded to a low pressure system, it continued to wreak havoc as far west as Cleveland, Ohio, and as far north as Toronto, Ontario.

Even as we work to determine the specific impact to URJ congregations and families, and to our larger communities, it is already clear – too clear – that this storm will require a long-term, coordinated recovery effort. The URJ is in the process of reaching out to all our congregations on the east coast and throughout the Midwest to determine what the most immediate needs are in impacted communities.

With your support the URJ will provide relief to congregations, families and communities, just as we have done for victims of natural disasters around the world. Together we can provide hope and help to those in need.U.S. Donations can be made online to the URJ Hurricane Relief Fund or by mail:

Hurricane Relief Fund
Union for Reform Judaism
633 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Travel Justly

The work of tikkun olam does not just happen at home. When we travel, we can help build a more just, more sustainable world, rather than make travel choices that tread heavily on our environment and our fellow human beings.

Learn more about the impact travel has on others and the world around us and help us all make more just travel choices.

Next time you travel, we hope you will find ways to travel justly, as we are commanded: Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue. You can start today by taking action to support carbon reductionand offsetting in your own community and in Israel by contributing to a clean future fueled by green jobs and sustainable products and practices.

Rabbi Miri Gold Recognized as the first non-Orthodox Congregational Rabbi in History of Israel

News from Israel this morning brings word of victory for Progressive Judaism in the Jewish State. Here’s the post from the newsletter of the Israel Religious Action Center…

May 29, 2012
Rabbi Miri Gold

Dear Partners,

We won! The attorney general has just released his consent to recognize Rabbi Miri Gold as the first Rabbi of a non-Orthodox congregation in the history of the Israel. Drink L’Chayim. Congratulate every Rabbi in our movement. Sound the shofar. Say She’hecheyanu. We won recognition for the first Reform Rabbi in Israel.

Over seven years you have played an invaluable part in this struggle. You stood with Miri every step of the way and we would not have reached this joyous day without your pressure from all corners of the Jewish world. The Israeli Attorney General accepted the request of the court and committed to equal pay for Rabbi Miri Gold for her work at Congregation Birkat Shalom. The State will give her the title “Rabbi”.

The decision today paves the way for dozens of other Reform and Conservative Rabbis in Israel to receive a salary from the government for their holy work, in the same way that 4000 Orthodox rabbis do.

This historic victory is another step in leveling the playing field. This allows the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism to build on the success achieved so far by our congregational Rabbis, and deepen our work for the Israeli public.

Rabbi Gold said, “What joy! Finally there’s more than one way to be a Rabbi in Israel!”

A few weeks ago, you sent over 5000 emails to Minister Margi telling him that stalling on this issue would fail. Your voice was heard. It is just as important to thank the government for doing the right thing as it is to pressure them when they are not. In that spirit, let’s write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and tell him that we are grateful that our Rabbi, Miri Gold, is finally able to perform her important work as an equal.

Action Alert: Thank the PM

Use this link to email Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express your graduated that Rabbi Miri Gold is finally recognized. This is an important milestone on the road to a fully pluralistic Israel.

Help this Year’s Confirmation Class Do Some Good

As Jews, we are commanded to perform mitzvot. Among them is God’s instruction to do works of “Tikkun Olam”, or repairing the world. As the 2012 TSTI Conformation takes to the bimah next Shabbat 1 in every 5 New Jerseyan families will be going to bed hungry.

As part of Confirmation we are collecting food to support to the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges, an interfaith effort across the country with a branch at TSTI. When we take to the bimah next Friday night for Confirmation we hope to be surrounded by cans of food to remind us that our Mitzvah is not over and we must continue to help.

Please donate whatever you can, but a bag full of goods on the attached list would directly impact the lives of at least 1 of the over 80 families that come to the food pantry every week. Just remember; “if you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one”.


1 can soup
1 can of beans

1 can pasta meal, protein meal (pasta and beef, stew, etc)
1 can of tuna or other protein item

1 box pasta
1 jar pasta sauce

1 can green vegetables
1 can red/orange/yellow vegetable
1 can starchy vegetable (corn/potatoes)

1 jar peanut butter
1 jar jelly
1 box of cereal
1 packet dried milk

1 can fruit

TSTIkkun Olam- Habitat for Humanity

TSTIkkun Olam- Habitat for Humanity

Our team of TSTI volunteers spent a fine day yesterday painting the newest Habitat house at 157 Pennington Street in Newark.


Thanks to Elise and Leilani Joy, Bonnie Jaffe, Judy Alter, Deborah and Hannah Kaplan, Mark Winkler, and Dennis Percher.

And thanks to all of you for your support of Habitat Newark!



TSTI in Action: Michael Brick leads the call for us to switch off the lights


This year, Earth Hour, will be observed on Saturday, March 31 between 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Hundreds of millions of people in thousands of cities and towns around the world are expected to turn off their lights in observation of the largest environmental event in history. More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide participated in 2011, sending a powerful message for action on climate change.

Co-chair of the West Orange Energy Commission Michael Brick led the call for state residents to switch their lights off on March 31.

“The inventive genius of individuals like Thomas Edison pushes the frontiers of science with breakthroughs like the incandescent bulb that enhance our quality of life. We call upon the same inventive genius in each of us to fight climate change,” Brick said. “Participating in Earth Hour is a powerful symbol of our commitment to help heal the planet and an important step in making that a reality.”

The Township of West Orange is a participating member in Earth Hour. The town’s mayor, Robert Parisi called for greater participation by residents and commended the Commission for its initiative in raising awareness of the global event.

“Thomas Edison was one of the most influential figures of the millennium because he provided light and power to the masses,” said Parisi. “Turning out the lights at Edison’s West Orange laboratories is a monumental symbol that shows the world West Orange is committed to fighting climate change and the future health of our planet.”

“This one symbolic act, of switching off one’s light for only 60 minutes, connects millions of people from around the world,” said Councilwoman Susan McCartney who also serves as the Energy Commission’s liaison to the Township.

AIPAC Policy Conference Thoughts: Deborah Green Taffet


After attending AIPAC I understand that the organization and its conferences raise awareness of the most pressing issues affecting Israel and focuses on raising funds to influence our elected representatives to support Israel.

I witnessed how the media twists what our leaders say, interpreting their statements with bias rather than fact. The reporting of President Obama’s speech varied depending on a reporter’s bias on the issue(s) of the US support for Israel and Israel’s thoughts and actions regarding Iraq. Takeaway: I have no doubt that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are working together to resolve these issues with full understanding of the stakes involved both in potential human and political casualties and judgment in the court of world opinion.

Deborah Green Taffet

AIPAC Policy Conference Thoughts: Mark Taffet

The conference demonstrated that Jews have a voice in American politics that is heard and responded to towards the betterment of both Israel and the US. With turbulence the norm in the Middle East, it must be reassuring to us, as Americans and Jews, that the relationship between the two countries remains rock solid.

Mark Taffet

AIPAC Policy Conference Thoughts: Pam Keen

My experience at the AIPAC Policy Conference was inspiring. I learned so much from the break-out sessions I attended- such as the importance of lobbying our elected officials, becoming educated on various issues in order to share with others a supportive and positive view of Israel, and advocate for an unbiased representation of Israel in the media.

I met amazing people from across the country, and became more aware of how important it is to stand together with the thousands in attendance to lobby on behalf of Israel, and make a difference. What better way to stand up for Israel than to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference. It is certainly a good starting point as we return to our communities and make plans to communicate with our Temple members to become more proactive supporters of Israel.

It was an unforgettable experience! Looking forward to next year’s conference.

Pam Keen

AIPAC Policy Conference Thoughts: Robert Brenner

My son and I had the opportunity to attend the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. It was inspirational to be one of 13,000 people who while very different in many ways shared a sincere passion about the alliance between Israel and the US. While you/Rabbi Cohen have been consistent in your message about the importance of the US-Israel relationship, it is nevertheless awe inspiring to hear that same message from people who deal with the consequences all day, every day. In particular, hearing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not have been more stark in bringing home the serious threats confronted by Israel. Whether you agree or disagree with his philosophies or strategies, one cannot dispute the facts he portrayed about the precariousness of life and security in Israel. The Prime Minister was one of the most powerful speakers I have ever heard and while he emphasized the importance of US-Israeli alliances, he also emphasized his view that Israel must sometimes forge its own way as, for example, in military action in Iran. I walked away from the conference thinking that it is not a matter of if we must use force to stop Iran from achieving its nuclear aspirations but when that force will strike.

Unfortunately, another observation from the AIPAC conference was its obvious use as a political platform for many of our own U.S. politicians to promote their own personal or parties political positions. As I understand it, AIPAC is apolitical in terms of political party affiliation so, to me, it was unfortunate to dilute the U.S.-Israel discussion with partisan politics. Perhaps this was unavoidable in an election year but it did detract from the true issues at hand and appeared very shallow in the context of such deep issues. It also made me question the sincerity of our politicians’ commitment to Israel, which concerned me about what would happen if it ever become politically unpopular to support Israel. I suppose that is why we, as Jews, must continue to stay active and let our leaders know where we stand on this important issue.

Another disappointing realizations was the extent to which the Media distorts the facts. Almost in real-time we heard speakers on one day and the next read reports that were grossly inaccurate, especially with regards to President Obama’s speech.

Overall, this was a tremendous and enlightening experience. It was particularly special for me as I was able to share it with my son, who will, hopefully, continue AIPAC’s mission. A number of speakers commented on the several thousands of students who were also participants. They are our future and it is up to us to set a model for them to follow.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to join other TSTI members in an unforgettable experience!

Robert Brenner