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:
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.
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 SAC@bethisrael-pdx.org.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Allocations made 2018/2019 fiscal year end:
(CBI Board Approved 6/27/2019)
SOCIAL ACTION GENERAL TRIBUTE FUND
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
SOCIAL ACTION FOOD FUND
Oregon Food Bank $2000
Meals On Wheels $2000
Partners for Hunger Free OR $2000
Urban Gleaners $2000
Cascadia Clusters $5000
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.
The Social Action General Tribute Fund and the Social Action Food Fund support many of these activities.
Questions about Social Action? Email: SAC@bethisrael-pdx.org