Social Action Activities & More

Social Action Activities & More

Brit Olam (Covenant with our World)

Congregation Beth Israel has committed to be a Brit Olam congregation with the Union for Reform Judaism.

The Brit Olam is our enduring covenant with our world because we see the world we want, not the world as it is.

This commitment makes Beth Israel part of a network of more than 200 Reform congregations from all over the country working in concert in meeting an  “urgency of now”  through moral leadership and community-based action.

The Reform Jewish Movement fulfills our covenant by confronting injustice at its root. We act through our communities and congregations, with partners from outside our movement, to bring about a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice and compassion.

As part of the Brit Olam, we are joining three issues-based cohorts, networks of communities that will share learnings and strategies:

  • Immigration Justice
  • Gun Violence Prevention
  • Reproductive Justice

If you have questions or are interested in getting involved, please email us.

More information about Brit program is also available on this URJ site.


CBI is a member of the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty. The Alliance is a diverse and dynamic group of local faith based congregations with a mission of working to alleviate poverty in the Portland region.

Goals include:

  • Increasing understanding of poverty, especially generational poverty.
  • Engaging with those in poverty to provide direct connection and service, and to increase our understanding of the problem.
  • Advocating for systemic change to help eliminate poverty.

Meetings are held the first Thursday of every month from 12:00-2:00 PM. Meeting locations vary and all meetings are open to the public and include educational components and thought- provoking discussions. The Alliance also sponsors seminars and workshops which are open to the public.

More information is available here.

Congregation Beth Israel’s Social Action Committee (SAC) has partnered with Catholic Charities, a leader in refugee resettlement and support, to help newly-arrived refugees throughout the Portland area. We have been working with our partners to find ongoing opportunities for our volunteers to help, and will be scheduling educational activities and fundraising efforts in the coming weeks. For updates on this initiative, please watch this space and our CBI’s weekly email newsletter.

In the meantime, please join us for  airport meet-and-greets. Refugees arrive in Portland nearly every week, and we want to do everything we can to make them feel welcome. Be a part of a crowd of friendly new neighbors (signs, balloons, and small gifts are welcome but not required) by following the Catholic Charities Facebook page for a list of scheduled arrivals. You can also sign up for our Social Action mailing list for updates by connecting with us at

CBI has an ongoing relationship with our neighbors who reside in the NW Towers and Annex buildings. Our connection with NW towers is  thru Lift Urban Portland’s Adopt a Building Program.

Family Support

We  staff an afterschool homework club for school age children living in the Annex one to two days per week. The kids, many who have attended for several years, look forward to the club day. We have relationships with the parents so we can partner in our efforts to assist the kids.  Snacks, games, art projects and socializing are compliments to the tutorial assistance.

We assist with purchase of school supplies when needed. Each child can receive either a winter coat or shoes in the fall and a holiday gift in December.

Sunday Food Pantry

CBI members  provide transportation for pick up and delivery of Trader Joe’s food donation each Sunday for NW Towers’ resident run  Food Pantry. We also help with unpacking the food, which  gives us the opportunity to socialize with the resident volunteers. The Pantry is valuable source of fresh fruits, vegetables and a variety of other nutritious items.

Social Programs

We host a variety of special events for the residents during the year including a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, a New Year’s Eve party and a lunch on CBI Mitzvah Day. Many volunteers of all ages are participants in these celebrations.

An annual highlight of the CBI calendar, our community truly comes together each Spring for Mitzvah Day. Congregants of all ages participate in a variety of activities to support good works throughout the Portland area. Past years’ projects have included meal preparation for shelters, sorting clothing for seasonal workers,  cleaning and organization the Lift Urban Portland  and Sunshine Pantry food warehouses,  work at the Children’s Book Bank and maintenance of our own Beth Israel Cemetery.  A special Family Mitzvah Center allows our littlest mensches to make a difference with special projects tailored to their skills.

Mitzvah Day is run entirely by CBI volunteers, so if you have a great idea for a project or want to get involved in planning, please let us know!

Advocacy is another ongoing facet of our Social Action Programming. This year, we had our second annual CBI Lobbying Day, during which CBI congregants and Rabbi Joseph met in Salem with five state legislators and delivered a letter to all legislators requesting that the state budget be a “moral” one that does not negatively affect the poorest among us. We also spoke in support of sensible gun control initiatives that are passing through the legislature this session.

CBI has two Social Action Tribute Funds, the Social Action General Tribute Fund and the Social Action Food Fund.

The amounts in the funds may be used in two ways:

  1. To pay for the expenses of activities engaged in by CBI members and sponsored by the Social Action Committee.
  2. To fund contributions to other organizations engaged in social action or hunger relief.

The Social Action Committee makes recommendations regarding contributions to other organizations to the Board of Trustees.  All contributions to other organizations require the approval of the CBI Board.

In July of 2019 our newly formed Social Action Allocations Subcommittee began work to create a new process for guiding allocation recommendations.

In addition to our Tribute Funds, we also have a yearly High Holidays Funds for Food Drive.  The contributions to this drive are split between the Sunshine Food Pantry  and  Lift Urban Portland and are designated to be used only for food purchases.

The Social Action Committee welcomes requests for allocations from the Social Action Food Fund, High Holidays Funds for Food and the Social Action General Tribute Fund. Please click to learn more and to submit a request

Allocations made 2018/2019 fiscal year end:

(CBI Board Approved 6/27/2019)



Basic Rights Oregon Education Fund             $1200

Community Warehouse                                    $1000

Interfaith Alliance on Poverty                           $ 500

Israel Religious Action Center                          $1000

Jewish Family and Child Services                   $1000

North by Northeast Healthcare Clinic              $1000

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette      $1000

Portland Homeless Family Solutions              $1000

Project Lemonade                                             $ 500

Children’s Book Bank                                       $ 500


TOTAL                                                               $8700



Oregon Food Bank                                           $2000

Meals On Wheels                                              $2000

Partners for Hunger Free OR                           $2000

Urban Gleaners                                                 $2000

Cascadia Clusters                                            $5000


TOTAL                                                               $13,000

Oregon continues to be troubled by food insecurity. Each year as the High Holidays approach we ask for your support for two local food pantries, Lift Urban Portland and Sunshine Pantry.  Last year’s drive generated more than $7,000 in donations, equivalent to more than 15,000 individual meals. Our High Holidays Funds for Food Drive for 5780 has already begun, and we hope to be able to match–or exceed–that incredible generosity.

  • 2015: Ilene Davidson
  • 2014: Jill Rubinstein
  • 2013: Sanny Snell
  • 2012: Women of Reform Judaism/Beth Israel Sisterhood
  • 2010: Tracy Oseran and Dr. Gregg Coodley
  • 2009: BINA
  • 2007: Dr. Jill Ginsberg
  • 2006: Rabbi Rose

The Social Action General Tribute Fund and the Social Action Food Fund support many of these activities.

Questions about Social Action? Email: