Leo Baeck Temple
1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Target Groups: Multi-generational Social Action Program, Youth Group Programs
A centerpiece of Leo Baeck Temple’s work has always been social action, and an ethical imperative dominates the temple’s activities. This attitude compels the congregants, including the youth, to speak out and become involved. Presently, members work on the temple’s AIDS Lunch Program, repair homes in South Central Los Angeles, collect food and clothing, and participate in many other projects. In recent years, the Social Action Committee focused on the theme of Children in Need and has developed programs and institutional relationships with the American Jewish Committee, the Venice Family Clinic, Jewish Big Brothers, and the Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition.
In recognition of Leo Baeck Temple’s extensive involvement in the community, the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) has joined forces with the temple’s Social Action Committee. PJA is an organization of liberal Jews who draw from Jewish values to promote social and economic justice. When the leadership of both groups met, the issue of public education was at the top of their agenda. To begin their advocacy work, they invited educators and administrators to their meetings in order to learn about the situation of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The group then developed a three-part Social Action Shabbat Lecture Series, which helped inform over 600 people about public education issues. A state assemblywoman, a syndicated columnist, and a professor of sociology at Hebrew Union College spoke about empowering topics such as The Jewish Stake in Public Education, and A Vision for Change: Society’s Commitment to Education.
The Social Action Committee became a force of political advocacy by working with a liaison from the superintendent’s office. With the help of this liaison, the Committee began to lobby the local government for funds to repair the schools. The group highlighted the issues of public education and successfully mobilized support for school bonds, individual schools, and teachers. The group also supported the teachers union by gaining public support for their work through press conferences and community meetings. Leo Baeck Temple’s relationship with the PJA has involved hundreds of congregants in education and advocacy, and the group plans to continue and expand their efforts. In addition to addressing the issues of public education, the temple has built a coalition to address social and economic injustice throughout Los Angeles.