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What is social action?

Social action is a core value and is at the heart of Sinai Synagogue. It includes caring for and about Sinai's individual members and the Synagogue itself.

The Movement for Reform Judaism tells us that "As a Movement we are profoundly aware that it was Judaism that taught the world that God is the embodiment of the ethical and that we serve God not just through prayer and ritual but in the way we behave towards our fellow human beings.

For Reform Jews the importance of working individually and collectively towards a better and redeemed world is vital to our understanding of what being active Jews means". 

There are two linked aspects of social action, Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah. 'Tikkun Olam' can be translated as 'repair of the world'.  It may include, physical repair ie concern with environmental issues and sustainability; more ideologically, it can refer to health and justice for all. 

'Tzedakah' is often translated as charity, but it is much more than this. The word comes from the root tzedek, meaning justice, and so tzedakah is also about helping of other people to support themselves.

Care and well-being initiatives

The Movement for Reform Judaism has produced a very helpful 2016 report on Tackling Adult Social Care - Combatting Loneliness and Isolation (this can be downloaded below). This outlines a number of projects which communities might wish to engage in, including telephone contact, organising tea parties and regular “news and schmooze” events.

The report recommends establishing a common purpose for volunteers within the community, working as a team with common standards and practice, to offer support to members, and understanding more about volunteering opportunities.  Questions to be asked and resolved include:

Why do we want to volunteer?

  • What are the skills you bring to volunteering?
  • What are the skills you have / don’t have?
  • Are all motivations to volunteer good?
  • What are our fears and how can we meet them?

What are the practical skills we need?

  • Welcoming people as our guests to our community
  • Going into people’s homes, treating people with respect
  • The importance of good listening skills
  • Respecting Boundaries and Confidentiality
  • Risk Assessment – Mental Health awareness, DBS checks etc
  • Developing Befriending Scenarios
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