December 17, 2014 · 25 Kislev

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Racism and Economic Justice

Central Reform Congregation

77 Maryland Plaza
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
Central Reform Congregation's website

Central Reform, established in 1984, is the only Jewish congregation within the city of St. Louis. Its location is central to its mission, which focuses on "deepening our understanding of our Jewish values by incorporating Tikkun Olam into all aspects of our congregation's life and in our own individual lives." To that end, it is involved in a wide variety of partnerships and activities that emphasize the connection between - and the importance of dismantling - racism and economic injustice. Among them:

  • Central Reform partners with Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church, a primarily African-American congregation, in mentoring from kindergarten through middle school and in sponsoring a summer camp, book drives, an annual winter coat and clothing drive, and soon, the construction of a much-needed school/community park and educational garden. (The mentoring program has been replicated in eight city public schools, with 1,000 students and 2,000 mentors.)
  • The congregation is an active advocate for accessible health care, higher wages, an end to the death penalty, among others; it has expanded its own involvement (with Cote Brilliante) in Habitat for Humanity to include the 12 area congregations that are part of the regional Jewish Social Action Network; in partnership with Grace Hill Community Center, it seeks to rebuild an economically depressed community and provide needed support, including transitional housing, for abused and addicted women. A twice-yearly winterization program targets elderly residents of the community, and has so far improved some 500 homes; weekly meals are provided at the women's shelter; in the Time Dollar Store, residents "buy" donated clothing and household items with "time dollars" they have earned from their participation in various neighborhood programs.
  • The congregation has initiated an "internal outreach" program designed to identify and better support the needs of its members who are people of color or who have people of color in their families, and seeks to ensure that its own employment practices conform to its ideals.

The Fain Award is presented to Central Reform Synagogue in admiration of the restless energy, the intelligence, and the devotion it invests in an unusually broad array of projects and programs, in praise of the centrality of social responsibility in the life of the congregation, and in the belief that its exemplary commitment offers us all a model worthy of emulation.

Click here to return to the 1999 Fain Award winners

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