Jewish Social Welfare Organizations

Resources for alleviating poverty.


In the past decade, there has been a surge in the number of Jewish social justice organizations, which mobilize Jews to work on local, national or global issues. Local groups include: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (New York), Jews United for Justice (Washington, D.C.), Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago), Jewish Community Action (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Tikkun Ha-Ir (Milwaukee), and the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (Boston). All of these organizations offer many opportunities for members to get involved in advocacy, activism, and educational efforts.

National Jewish organizations devoted to social justice include: Bend the Arc, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Repair the World, and Mazon, some of which provide educational and training resources. Mazon and Bend the Arc also serve as vehicles to give to community organizing and advocacy groups; the RAC facilitates advocacy around specific legislation. The American Jewish World Service offers a means of fighting poverty in developing countries and also sponsors volunteer trips of various lengths and for various audiences. For those looking for a longer term experience, Avodah and the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network offer year-long fellowships for budding social justice activists. 

Groups that address poverty specifically within the Jewish community include the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the Jewish Federations of North America, and local federations. 

Over the past few years, a number of synagogues and Jewish communities have embarked on extensive efforts to involve members in long-term social justice campaigns. Bend the Arc and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston both offer assistance to communities interested in undertaking a similar project.

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Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and the author of Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On-Guide for Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community and There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice Through Jewish Law and Tradition. She will be blogging here for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning all through Sukkot.

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