Social Action Committee Values, Goals and Charter

I. OUR VALUES

The mission of Temple Beth Shalom’s Social Action Committee (SAC) is anchored in the values of Judaism in general, and Reform Judaism in particular.  We are commanded in the Torah “Lo ta’amod al dam reiecha – Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” and “Lo tuchal l’hitalem – You may not remain indifferent.” The ancient command “Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof! Justice, justice shall you seek!” also reverberates. 

Reform Judaism is inspired by the prophets’ calls to do justice on this earth. We seek to apply the insights of the prophetic Jewish tradition of tikkun olam – healing the world – to domestic and foreign issues, particularly as they affect the health, welfare and rights of vulnerable populations. 

If we don’t bring these progressive religious values into the public arena with us, we will abandon the public square to those offering a different view of religion and values. 

II.  OUR PURPOSE

Both the provision of direct services and social justice advocacy aimed at affecting systemic change have a long tradition in communities of faith, including within TBS. To help advance this tradition and further the integration of social justice activities into the life of our congregation, the Temple’s Board has created a Social Action Committee, comprised of board and non-board members.  The SAC will build on our Temple’s rich history of tzedakah and tikkun olam and will work locally, regionally and nationally in partnership with other groups, both faith-based and secular.

We are non-partisan and mindful that we are a congregation with a membership diverse in background, points of view, and opinions. We celebrate that spectrum of opinion and wish to preserve our commitment to welcoming a diversity of views and individuals.  At the same time, we embrace the power of a unified congregational voice calling for justice.

Seeking input from the congregation, we will set priorities for the SAC’s focus.  These priorities likely will evolve over time and do not preclude congregants, or TBS itself, from undertaking other charitable and social justice activities.

III. OUR OVERARCHING GOALS

  • TBS has a more robust social action presence/profile, anchored in the values of Reform Judaism.   
  • We provide ways of supporting and exercising the passion for social justice that has long characterized Reform Judaism and so many in our Temple, helping to further integrate it into the life of our congregation.
  • We help provide guidance to the Temple as we wrestle with the challenge of applying our progressive Jewish values to public affairs.
  • TBS engages in social action activities with national (Union of Reform Judaism), regional and local allies/partners.
  • We are responsive to the interests of our congregants and help connect them to social action activities, whether run by TBS or by others.
  • We are a resource for the nursery school, religious school and teen Tikkun Olam with respect to social action.


IV. OPERATIONS OF THE SAC

  • COMPOSITION AND MEMBERSHIP
    SAC members shall consist of a Chair who is a member of the TBS Board and at least one additional Board member.  The TBS Board members serving on the SAC shall be appointed by the Board.  The SAC should have non-Board members. The total number of members shall be left to the discretion of the Committee. 
  • MEETINGS, MINUTES
    The SAC shall meet at least monthly or more frequently as circumstances dictate.  Minutes shall be taken at all meetings and made available to all Board members and Temple leadership and, upon request, to any congregant; all minutes shall be maintained8 on file.  The SAC shall periodically report to the Board annually or more often as requested by the President of the Temple. 
    •  SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES
      1. After consulting with the President of the Temple, the SAC shall prepare and then recommend to the Board for its approval both annual and on-going social action priorities, with the understanding that adjustments may be necessary from time to time. 
      2. In recommending priorities, and with respect to its ongoing work, the SAC shall seek input from TBS’s Rabbi, Cantor and faculty, as well as congregants to help determine the interest, expertise, and time and budgetary constraints relevant to social action activities.
      3. The SAC may represent TBS with other local synagogues and local, regional and national Jewish organizations engaged in social action, as well as with other organizations or movements with similar goals. The SAC shall also keep abreast of information, and may propose TBS participation in, other coalitions and activities of interest to TBS, whether or not they occur in a traditional religious context.
      4. Decisions about SAC and TBS social action activities shall be made as follows: 
      • The SAC may make routine decisions (e.g., communicating out on local activities or co-sponsoring a film) without seeking Board approval, provided there are no financial implications, the decision does not take TBS into a new area of endeavor, and is not politically sensitive. 
      • In the event that a decision requiring Board approval must be made under time constraints and does not involve significant funding, agreement by SAC and approval by the President and Rabbi shall generally suffice.
    • The SAC shall regularly communicate to the congregation about social justice activities that may be of interest. 
    • The SAC shall seek to provide opportunities for TBS board members and congregants to participate in social justice activities and gain social action skills. 
    • The SAC shall assess and evaluate its activities, successes and challenges, at least annually, and report to the Board.
    • The SAC shall review this Charter annually and revise it as required.