“Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice. Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow.” -- Isaiah 1:17
At Beth Am, we congregate to make meaningful change in the world. Inspired and guided by the values of Jewish tradition, we work together to care for those in need, defend the vulnerable, uphold civil and human rights, protect our natural resources for future generations, seek peace, and build a more just and equitable society. Dedicated to the concept of k’lal Yisrael – our shared responsibility for the Jewish people – we work on behalf of a strong, peaceful and democratic State of Israel, and lend our support to endangered Jewish communities around the world. We use our collective strength to build a more just world through strategic tzedek projects and in collaboration with community partners.
We envision a Beth Am community in which all aspects of synagogue life promote the work of social justice. Sermons and worship services highlight Jewish teachings about tzedek (justice) and tikkun olam (our duty to repair the world), as well as Jewish perspectives on contemporary social and political issues. Education for youth and adults inspires students to live by the highest Jewish values and provides them with tools and opportunities for meaningful social action. Holiday celebrations and other community gatherings provide regular mitzvah opportunities for our members, including giving tzedakah and caring for the needy. Lay leaders ground their decisions in a concern for tikkun olam. The majority of Beth Am members are involved in the work of social justice through advocacy, volunteer activities or financial contributions. Creating a powerful intergenerational community focused on social justice, we seek to inspire young menschen who will engage in a lifetime of tzedek work, following the example of their elders.
Our work is guided by the prophetic traditions of the Reform movement, which emphasize our Jewish responsibility for repairing what is broken in the world, protecting the most vulnerable, and acting in the face of injustice. These teachings challenge us to create a more equitable society where all have access to food, clothing, housing, education and health care, to a safe environment, and to opportunities for advancement. In addition to working for justice and equity in our own country, we provide support to the needy in Israel and advocate for civil and human rights for all its citizens.
We are strategic in our pursuit of justice. Recognizing the many good causes that demand our attention, we adopt a thoughtful process of decision-making, focusing on activities that will allow us to make a meaningful difference in addressing the injustices we see around us, and causes where we may have a unique role to play. We find ways to increase our impact by joining with others in coalitions, with a special focus on interfaith and inter-cultural cooperative efforts. We assess our work frequently to evaluate its effectiveness, its responsiveness to the interests of Beth Am members, and the needs of our state and local community, as well as the larger world.
We provide a variety of different ways for congregants of all ages, abilities and financial levels to engage in the work of social justice. We focus on both hands-on direct service projects and advocacy efforts that address larger structural injustice in our society. Recognizing that we can have maximal impact by joining forces in shared activities, we continually seek ways to deploy the talents, resources, and wisdom of our congregants to advance our tikkun olam efforts.
Conscious of our duty to serve as positive role models in the Jewish world and the larger community, we take a leadership role in advancing the work of justice. We invest sustained effort in a limited number of large-scale, long-term “signature” projects that will involve many members and have a significant impact on our community. At the same time, we see to respond to crises and emergencies whenever possible, and to maintain a number of smaller-scale programs that will educate and inspire our members.
We use a wide range of organizing tools to motivate Jewish activism and to advance our congregational mission, first expressed by the prophet Micah: We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to “do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).