Social Action

Embracing Our Multiracial Community at Temple Sinai

Temple Sinai has wholeheartedly embraced the URJ’s recently adopted resolution that both reaffirms our movement’s commitment to racial justice and commits the Reform movement to undertake transformative internal steps. Importantly, the resolution affirms our identity as a multiracial Reform Jewish community.

Upcoming Events

  • Praying With Our Feet
    Saturday, June 22, 9am-12pm

    Join us as celebrate Shabbat while “Praying With Our Feet” at A Wider Circle in Silver Spring, MD.  This is a wonderful opportunity to observe Shabbat through tikkun olam, repairing the world. Volunteers will help load furniture, restock household items, sort through donations, repair objects, and do whatever else may be needed. All ages welcome, but we recommend kids be elementary+.


Social Action Menu

Temple Sinai is committed to work for justice in education, housing, immigration, jobs and other areas. We have signed the Brit Olam of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (RAC) and committed through the RAC’s Urgency of Now Campaigns to protect the rights of transgender students, defend the rights of immigrants at risk of deportation, and reform the criminal justice system and end mass incarceration. Through the Social Action Committee, Women and Men of Reform Judaism and other groups and committees, we engage in direct service, advocacy, and organizing on these and a host of other pressing issues.  Below are ongoing projects and opportunities for tzedakah and tikkun olam:

  • Project Mensch supports teachers, families and kids at Highland Elem. School in Silver Spring, MD with educational materials, special occasion celebrations and personal items and services.  “Mensches” in our congregation provide financial and in-person support. Become a Mensch! Email Project Mensch.

    -Summer Reading Program for DC Public School elementary students.  Volunteers help children select books for summer reading and then order and distribute the books when summer starts.  Men and college student volunteers particularly welcome!  Email Debby Litt.

    Eyeglasses Project works with Wheatley Education Campus elementary students in NE DC and a generous optometrist (a Temple member) to arrange exams and glasses for kids. Email Darren Gersh.

    -Support for Roosevelt H.S. in Petworth, Ward 4:  Sinai volunteers support teachers, families and students with school supplies, classroom support, special celebrations and food.  Email Robin Gerber.

  • The plight of immigrants and refugees in this country is of particular concern to the congregation. As Jews, we know all too well the challenges of seeking refuge from violence and poverty in the best of times, let alone in the present environment. We have several groups working to address this multifaceted, heartbreaking situation.

    Immigrant Rights: Temple Sinai is a member of the Sanctuary DMV Congregational Network. The temple also has a longstanding relationship with Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, TX. Temple members have traveled to McAllen to work with refugee families. We send backpacks, clothes and other items throughout the year. We’ve also visited immigrant detainees at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. We work with El Refugio, an organization in Lumpkin, on a “pen pal” program to communicate with and support detainees. In the DC metro area, Sinai volunteers partner with KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), Ayuda, and CAIR and others to provide legal and financial support, social services and counseling to immigrant families. We work with DC Detention Visitation Network to visit immigrants detained in local jails used by ICE. We organize and advocate for DACA, TPS, and similar programs and lead field trips to detention facilities. Rabbi Roos.

    Assisting Refugee Families: Temple Sinai’s refugee family team, working with Lutheran Social Services, has sponsored an Afghan refugee family and also assists other refugee families. We are presently sponsoring an asylum seeker from the Congo. More than 50 temple members provide direct support. Andrea Dettelbach, Catherine Ribnick. We also work with Solutions in Hometown Connections (SHC) to tutor and provide support to locally resettled refugees and asylum seekers. Nancy Liebermann. Catherine Ribnick. Andrea Dettelbach.

    Sanctuary: Temple Sinai has joined the Sanctuary Movement and publicly declared itself as a Sanctuary Congregation. We are committed to offering humanitarian aid to vulnerable immigrants in our community and to moving forward with plans for Sanctuary. A big part of this effort is preparing a designated space on the Temple’s property for hosting a family or individual facing deportation to live until their case or status is resolved, or threat of deportation ends. Elizabeth Hoffman.

    Washington Interfaith Network (WIN): This interfaith coalition of congregations and community organizations across DC, described more fully below, works to leverage the collective power of its members to make DC a more just city for all its residents. One of the key initiatives of WIN is focused on immigration and refugee protection. Barbara Kraft.

  • Formed in 2016, the GVPG does research, education, legislative monitoring and advocacy, phone-banking and organizing within the Temple and with other congregations and institutions.  GVPG members and volunteers mounted the Memorial to the Lost t-shirt display during the 2016 and 2017 High Holidays and has hosted well-attended panel discussions and films, most recently a panel discussion on guns and the suicide epidemic. Email Steve Klitzman.

  • The Team actively researches and educates on environmental issues including best practices for our building and landscape, and is advocating and organizing for changes in policy to reflect Jewish values.  The Team’s April 2018 program featured practical information on stormwater mitigation and other environmental best practices for individuals and families. The Team plans an outstanding Tu B’Shevat Shabbat for January 25, 2019.  Regina Ziegler, Email Regina Ziegler and/or email Robyn Miller-Tarnoff.

  •  Several times a year, Sinai congregants celebrate Shabbat with tikkun olam at A Wider Circle in Silver Spring.  We meet at AWC on Saturday morning, begin with a short Shabbat service, and help sort donated clothes, furniture and household goods for families who come to “shop.”  Families welcome. Email Glenn Engelmann.

  • We are one of 40 DC congregations in WIN, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation.  Each congregation’s “Core Team” organizes members in actions to support campaigns targeting criminal justice, policing, gun violence and community safety; housing and homelessness; jobs; and immigration and refugee protection.  Join our 2018-2019 Core Team and stand with us at WIN’s June 7, 2018 Citywide Action as we press the DC Council Chair candidates on immigrant legal assistance funding, affordable housing and gun safety in DC.  Email Barbara Kraft.

  • Among other things, D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, organizes the annual Capital Pride Interfaith Service and works with organizations that provide housing and support to LGBTQ individuals.  We have committed in the RAC’s Brit Olam and the Urgency of Now Campaign to organize and advocate for LGBTQ rights and protections. Email Rabbi Rosenwasser.

  • Sinai volunteers shop for, assemble and deliver wholesome holiday foods to Temple partner organizations including Sinai House, SOME and others who distribute them to families. Religious School kids help with packing.  Email Ellen Croog and/or email Lori Berman.

  • Volunteer at Temple Sinai’s own supported housing for formerly homeless families. Learn more. Amy Schear, Email Amy Schear.

  • Sinai’s Men of Reform Judaism joins Yachad’s program to repair single-family homes whose owners can’t afford to pay contractors.  Work includes painting, plastering, plumbing, minor electrical work and carpentry.  Experience a plus but not required.  Kids who are at least 11 years old welcome.  Email Howard Oppenheim.

  • SOME logoSinai volunteers serve breakfast, pour coffee, clean up and set tables on the 4th Sunday of each month from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at 71 O St., NW.  First time volunteers must show up 15 minutes early. Volunteers must be at least 13; ages 13-15 must be accompanied by an adult.  Students may earn community service credit if they bring their forms!  Email Howard Oppenheim.

  • Receive up to date information about social action events and how you can help out/show up/stand up with one or more of our project teams or to respond to other urgent needs or events related to social action including immigrant/refugee injustice, racism and anti-semitism. Send your contact information to Glenn Engelmann.

  • The Social Action Committee makes small grants each year, giving priority to projects in areas our congregation has identified as important: immigration, refugees, education, housing, homelessness, jobs and food/hunger. Consideration is given to organizations or groups with relationships with Temple members, though the Committee will consider innovative proposals that are especially promising regardless of relationship to Temple Sinai. Applicants must demonstrate effectiveness in achieving their goals. Past grantees have included Friendship Place, Washington WomenAid, Tzedek DC, the Summer Book Fair, Avodah, the House of Ruth, Active Minds  and a math tutoring program at Neval Elem. School in DC.  Applications for grants in FY 2020 will be due in February 2020.

Contact Us

Glenn Engelmann, Social Action Committee Chair
(202) 450-5716