Visit the RAC's Social Action Program Bank Economic Justice Page to find program ideas for congregations, youth groups and religious schools. Or, check out some of these great ideas:
- Temple Beth Am, Buffalo, NY conducts monthly Shabbat services and Passover seders at two area prisons. The Yamim Noraim are another good time of the year to reach out to the area prisons and provide a meaningful High Holiday experience. It is a perfect opportunity to truly reflect on the idea and concept of teshuvah (repentance) and forgiveness.In addition to the services, create a support or dialogue group between local inmates and congregants.
- Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX, ran a program called Crime, Punishment and Rehabilitation, which included discussions around modern crime and punishment with a forensic psychologist discussing the special conditions for a successful psychological approach to rehabilitation. A criminologist concluded the program with a discussion of criminal behavior, theories about genetics and environment, the role of society and police as well as the challenges of rehabilitation.
- Legal Aid: Organize attorneys in your congregation to provide pro bono or flexible-fee scale legal aid in your community. Working sessions could be located at the synagogue and teach individuals about basic rights, how to take care of legal needs that do not require an attorney, such as how to read and understand simple contracts, tenant rights, consumer rights, and handling small claims court cases.
- Advocacy Mock Trial: Youth run an advocacy mock trial to gain an understanding of the justice system. The preparation can take place prior to the Yamim Noraim and the trial can be put on during the Ten Days of Repentance or the afternoon break on Yom Kippur. www.hillel.org.
- Progressive Jewish Allianceruns the “Jewish Community Justice Project,” which facilitates t’shuvahbetween victims and offenders. Through this project, victim of an offense confront, forgive and recognize the humanity of the offender in order to relieve the burdens of anger, fear, and hatred. It provides at-risk youth with a second chance and an opportunity to change their lives.
- Sinai Temple, Springfield, MA, as part of its Justice for All Seasons program, gives congregants the names and shoe sizes of children from an inner-city community center during Rosh HaShanah. On Yom Kippur the congregants bring donated boxes of new shoes for the children. The congregation also invites the children to meet their “matched” families during the High Holiday season.