Interfaith Coalition for Community Service

Creation of a local interfaith day of service.

Community Contact Information:
Congregation Keneseth Israel
Allentown, PA


  • Promote interfaith interaction and relationships in the local community
  • Provide service to needy families, organizations, neighborhoods
  • Promote Jewish ideals of social justice and social action

Keneseth Israel expanded the scope of their annual Social Action Mitzvah Day by reaching out to the community to create an Interfaith Community Service Day.

An interfaith steering committee of clergy and laypeople was assembled, including Jewish, Muslim, and Christian members, as well as the Interfaith Assistant to the Mayor and the Ecumenical Director of the Conference of Churches. The steering committee met monthly, leading up to the Interfaith Day of Community Service. The Social Action committee orchestrated the meetings and planning, designed the logo, made up all the forms, and hosted the pot luck dinner. With no money for advertising, they pursued newpaper, TV and radio coverage to publicize the event. They also publicized through email.

Project Implementation:
An online clearinghouse of activities, congregations, and needy organizations made the process very orderly and organized. Agencies posted requests on the website to match up projects with faith-based groups. The various projects were accomplished in a 2 to 4 hour time frame on the day of the event. The day ended with a come-as-you-are volunteer gathering at the synagogue with a brief concluding program and a potluck dinner, featuring an address by the mayor.

Interfaith bridges and relationships were built among participants, both during planning stages of various projects as well as during the of service activities themselves. There was a total of 27 different projects, including one comprised of several work teams headed by one church on a massive city clean up requested by the mayor. 21 congregations participated, as well as some individuals with no affiliation at all. In total, there were 437 volunteers, including approximately 45 blood donors.

This program received a Fain Honorable Mention in 2009.