840 Vernon Avenue
Glencoe, Illinois 60022
Am Shalom's Social Action committee receives its Fain Award for focusing an entire year on social action.
Once the Year of Social Action was set by the Board of Directors, an agenda for the year of social action was developed and every committee began to look at its programming through the lens of social action. For example, the Education Committee chose scholars in residence based on the theme. The Library Committee chose displays based on the theme. The Administrative Committee looked at recycling of office paper in a new light. The agenda includes the purpose of each program and questions that the committee addressed during their planning of the programs. The Social Action Committee looked at areas of concern in the congregation including: aging, caring community, environment, inclusion, Israel and world affairs, general mitzvot, study for the sake of action, poverty, legislative issues and tzedakah. The core agenda includes questions to consider as programs were developed in each area.
A handbook for Social Action Committee members was developed so that members would understand their responsibilities if they chose to bring particular expertise or motivation for certain projects. (Most of those people remained on the committee after the year ended.) They also needed to understand the scope of the work of the congregation in relationship to social action.
Task forces were also chosen to lead the congregation in particular programs such as "Mitzvah Day" or "Tolerance Day." All meetings during the year were set so the task force chairs would help plan, execute and evaluate the programs of the year and to ensure that all of the committees would be integrated in major programs.
One of the congregants built a unique collection box with multiple compartments that is 10 ft. long and 4 ft. high. Collections continue today in every area from toiletries, to books, to clothes, to eyeglasses, to ritual items for the congregation's adopted town in Russia, etc. A different grade each month took on the responsibility for the congregation's adopted town spearheading a particular collection.
Is your congregation looking for more ways to reach out to the community? Check out the Religious Action Center Program Bank.