“If I am not for myself, who is for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?”
—Hillel, Pirkei Avot, 1:14
The pursuit of social justice and social action is a cornerstone of Bethesda Jewish Congregation’s (BJC) philosophy. By working together as a community, we fulfill our mandate of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) and make a difference.
BJC’s Social Action Committee (SAC) channels energy into action. We are active in our local community, we support national initiatives, and we engage in efforts to make a difference in the lives of others around the world. At BJC, we fulfill this commitment in a unique way— by including a strong inter-congregational component in many of our social action projects. We often work in partnership with members of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church (BHPC); sometimes we are joined by our Muslim brothers and sisters from neighboring mosques.
With our dedicated project leaders, we offer volunteer experiences to meet your interests in a way that works best for you. Many of our projects happen once or twice a year, while others need our ongoing support year-round. Please join with us to make a difference.
Do you have an idea that could make a difference? The SAC is always looking for new ways to engage with our community and the world; let us know. We also welcome your involvement in any of our volunteer projects. For more information, please contact the SAC Chair Harri Kramer at [email@example.com]
BJC is involved:
In Our Community
- Stepping Stones: The Stepping Stone Shelter for women provides for those who are victims of domestic violence, services including 24/7 crisis lines and intervention, temporary shelter, clothing and food, transitional housing, counseling, support groups, and advocacy. BJC members join with many others to prepare meals for Stepping Stone residents. For more information contact Terri Reicher at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- National Center for Children and Families (NCCF): NCCF provides shelter, food, clothing, and counselling for homeless families in our community. One Sunday afternoon in the fall, members from BJC and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church come together to tackle a range of chores on the nearby NCCF campus, particularly landscaping, sorting, painting, etc. Both congregations conduct an annual school supply drive for NCCF residents, and at Thanksgiving we work together to build holiday baskets with homemade treats and the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal. For more information, contact [email@example.com]
- Habitat for Humanity: For many years, BJC members have participated in Habitat for Humanity projects in suburban Maryland and D.C., working on house construction and rehab projects, as well as in organizing Habitat’s ReStore that sells household furnishings and appliances. Generally, we have participated in these projects jointly with members from BHPC, the Idara-e-Jaferia mosque, and other houses of worship in interfaith build/volunteer days. No experience is necessary for these projects; Habitat provides experienced supervisors who provide all necessary instruction and all needed tools. For more information, contact Gary Sampliner at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- American Red Cross Blood Drive For more than 10 years, BJC has hosted American Red Cross blood drives. These blood drives help to address the persistent shortage of available blood for patients in our area and allow BJC members (and members of the larger community) an opportunity to donate in a comfortable and proximate environment. More importantly, giving blood to someone in need helps to fulfill the mitzvah of Pikuah Nefesh – the preservation of life. More information is available from Steve Turow at [email@example.com]
- Good Deeds Day: Bethesda Jewish Congregation joins with The Jewish Federation and the Greater Washington community, along with over half a million volunteers from around the world, for this fun and meaningful day of service. In 2017, participants with BJC created toys for dogs and cats that were donated to a local animal shelter. For more information, contact the director of congregational education at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Manna Food Drive: Manna Food’s mission is to end hunger in Montgomery County. Every High Holy Days, BJC members and the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church Nursery School fill grocery bags with healthy food for Manna Food. BJC Hebrew School students move the collected food to the Manna truck. In 2016, we collected over 2 tons of food. For more information, contact Sheila Wolpert at [email@example.com] or Phylly Satterfield at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
In Our Nation
- Gun Violence Prevention: Since March 2017, BJC has participated in an interfaith communications network of synagogues, churches, and mosques in the Washington, DC area, focused on the issue of gun violence prevention. The network facilitates sharing information on recent legislative developments and opportunities for action on gun violence prevention in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC with interested BJC members.
Examples of shared information are: meetings and programs, legislative action days, opportunities to act, significant court rulings, and bills under consideration in the Maryland and Virginia legislatures and in the DC City Council. If you would like to be added to the list receiving the information and updates, contact Barbara Faigin at [email@example.com]
In Our World
- March to End Genocide: BJC, along with BHPC, belong to a local interfaith network opposed to genocide and mass atrocities. Partnering with Jewish World Watch, as part of that network BJC participates in an annual Walk to End Genocide on the Mall on one Sunday in the spring. For more information, contact Marty Ganzglass at [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- Bottoms Up: supporting Cuban children: Bottoms Up was established in 2000 to provide for the needs of Cuban Jewish children ages 0-4. The children need essentials such as special formula, vitamins, diapers, medicine, clothes and small toys. Some of these things can be purchased in Cuba; others must be bought here and delivered. Donations go directly to the children and their families and you have the knowledge that you are making a difference in the life of a child. Gifts are tax deductible under 501(c)(3). To learn more, contact Judy Scott at [email@example.com]