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Emergency Overflow Shelter

Synagogue works in tandem with a local church organization to provide assistance and resources for homeless families.

Community Contact Information:
Mt. Zion Temple
St. Paul, MN


  • Create lasting change in the community at-large.
  • Engage congregation in homeless and housing advocacy issues.
  • Allow congregants a sense of ownership of the process of tikkun olam.
  • Create opportunities for engagement in interfaith communal justice work.

The Emergency Overflow Shelter provided eighteen beds for homeless families for two months last year. Congregants volunteered to help with this program, partnering with a local church organization. To keep this effort going, the Social Action Committee led Project Sukkot, which it developed to educate, inform and activate the congregation around issues of homelessness.


Members of the social action committee should contact local churches with similar interests in community assistance, forming committees from both faith congregations. The new interfaith committee should contact local homeless shelters and homeless networks to learn more about the logistics of providing shelter to the needy, as well as the more specific needs of the community. The interfaith committee should choose an appropriate place for the shelter. Both congregations should advertise the program in their monthly bulletins, and begin assembling a database of interested congregants and a calendar to ensure regular volunteering throughout the span of the program.

Project Implementation:

Each time the shelter was open, over 110 congregational families participated in some way, including organizing all aspects of the shelter, as well as cooking meals and donating items.


Less fortunate members of the community were treated with warmth and provided with shelter and sustenance. Congregants had the opportunity to serve their community through personal interactions with the people they were helping and bonded with members of another faith through the shared experience of hospitality.

This project, which grew out of the Year of Tzedek initiative, won a Fain Award.