At Temple Emanu-El, a central tenet of our faith involves the commitment to social action. We believe that our Torah commands us to provide food for the hungry and seek justice for the oppressed, and that our prophets compel us to look beyond ourselves and care for the community. Truly, by serving our fellow human beings, we also serve God.
The Social Action committee of Temple Emanu-El concerns itself with local, national and world issues, according to the teachings of Judaism. It promotes social justice and friendly relations in our community and is sensitive to the needy of our population. It reacts to activities of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attacks as they occur.
Below are examples of just some of the recent activities organized by our Social Action committee:
Food Drives - Our annual Yom Kippur food drive is a tremendous undertaking. Bags are distributed to the entire congregation on Rosh Hashanah and returned filled with food on Yom Kippur. In 2013, 3,673 pounds of food were sent to All Faiths Food Bank. In addition, donations of $2,415 provided a total of 6,605 meals. In addition to assisting All Faiths, we have also instituted an ongoing food drive to support the Jewish Family and Children's Service kosher food pantry to help meet ongoing needs.
Mitzvah Day - This is our annual day of community service, with dozens of different projects both at temple and within the local community. All generations participate, with participation exceeding 300 volunteers. On this one day, teams of members visit the elderly, pick up trash, repair cemeteries, collect clothing and other goods for those in need, give blood, write letters to soldiers, make sandwiches for the local women's shelter, care for animals in area shelters, and organize a carnival for homeless families with children. Even our youngest tots get involved by decorating cookies and delivering them to firefighters.
Tutorial Program - Temple volunteers tutor kindergarten, first and second-grade students with reading needs every week at Tuttle Elementary School.
Chanukah in December and July - Children’s clothing and toys are purchased and delivered two times a year to help needy families served by Jewish Family and Children’s Service.
Helping the Homeless - Donations are collected to help clients of Resurrection House. Most useful items include clothing, toiletries, sleeping bags, tents and bicycles.
Community Forums - We host several speakers each year on matters of political interest. Recent topics have included Israel, the environment, and a discussion of the proposed new baseball stadium with the mayor of Sarasota. The temple also has a long history of candidate forums prior to elections.
Tzedakah Box - The Social Action committee maintains the tzedakah box in the lobby and makes contributions to local shelters for abused women and children, and to assist with disaster resonse.