December 22, 2014 · 30 Kislev

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Kick-Off Programs for the High Holidays

The Yamim Noraim are the perfect time to “kick off” long term social action programs at your congregation. The programs below cover a wide range of themes and topics and we encourage you to use these programs or adapt them to work within your individual congregational setting.


  • Congregation Micah, Brentwood, TN asked congregants to commit to buying one extra can of food each time they went grocery-shopping for a three month period. DTo help the participants, once a week an email reminder was sent with a list of the food bank's most needed items.

  • Look for creative and new ways to continue the annual food drive beyond Yom Kippur: monthly food drives for different area pantries, different themes or types of food (e.g. fresh produce, baby items) each month, or set a year-long goalfor a specific amount of food to be collected. Be sure to educate your community about local issues of hunger with statistics, speakers and trips to area food banks. Be sure to check with your local food pantries and shelters to ensure that you are filling their needs.

  • Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA asked all of its members to commit to 18 hours of community service. Each congregant was given a piece of a large puzzle at the start of the program. Once they had finished their 18 hours of volunteering, their piece of the puzzle was added to the puzzle being put together at the congregation. As congregants completed their 18 hours, the picture on the puzzle began to take shape. The congregation website has a “Tikkun Olam Counter” to track the number of hours of service completed along with information about the service project.

  • Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL also focused an entire year on social action, during which each committee at the synagogue looked at its programming through the lens of social action. This demonstrated that the entire community has a commitment to tikkun olam and t’shuvah beyond the High Holiday season.

  • Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation in Saint Paul, MN  designed 'A Year of Tzedek' to bring the congregation together to work on ten tzedek (justice) projects. The program began with a Rosh HaShanah sermon followed by a tzedek testimonial featuring one congregant each month in the temple bulletin. In addition, each project highlighted from the bimah, within the religious school and through adult programs. each of the ten projects.  Projects included: adult literacy, child advocacy, Habitat for Humanity, disaster relief, gun control, affordable housing and immigration.

  • Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD runs 'To Bring About,' a family social action recruitment program. 'To Bring About' provides opportunities and suggestions for families to take action and volunteer locally. A brochure is printed and provides volunteer opportunity details as well as roots those issues in Jewish texts and traditions.

  • Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, CA gives congregants a social action brochure prior to the Yamim Noraim. On Yom Kippur members return cards that were inserted into the brochures, checked off with their areas of interest.

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