Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker: “We emerged from this year with renewed intention, greater clarity about our Jewish mandate for justice, and new partnerships with our neighbors to address the economic disparities and racial injustices in our community.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2015 — This weekend at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s biennial Consultation on Conscience (April 26-28), Mount Zion Temple of St. Paul, MN, will be one of nine Reform Movement congregations to be honored with an Irving J. Fain Award for outstanding social action programming.
“For thirty years, the Commission on Social Action’s Irving J. Fain Award has recognized outstanding synagogue social action programming,” said Susan Friedberg Kalson, chair of the Fain Award Committee, and Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action. “This year, the diverse array of programs that engage in the work of tikkun olam – repairing the world – at home and around the globe highlight our Reform Movement’s fundamental commitment to social action.”
This year’s winning programs addressed critical issues from racial justice to environmental activism, to education and mentoring of underprivileged youth. Each program has helped to make our world a better place, and we are proud to spotlight them with the hope that other congregations will learn from their example.
[cleanbreak]Mount Zion Temple’s winning program, titled A Year of Tzedek – Having the Conversation, is a year-long program dedicated to bringing justice to the forefront of congregational life and driving action at the individual, congregational, and community levels. By focusing seemingly small actions – personal stories, bulletin newsletters, and community narratives – on social justice, Mount Zion Temple was able to make a big impact on the congregation’s commitment to affecting social change, overcoming partisan boundaries, and uniting its members to tackle community problems together.
“Through this program we have established that justice is at the core of our congregation,” said Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker. “When we can articulate concisely and passionately why we care about creating a better community, we are more likely going to get involved. During the year, we helped each person connect a formative part of their life-story to one of three Jewish motivations for justice: leaving Egypt, being in the image of God, and tikkun olam. Thus we strengthened our congregation’s ability to respond to issues of social concern. We emerged from this year with renewed intention, greater clarity about our Jewish mandate for justice, and new partnerships with our neighbors to address the economic disparities and racial injustices in our community.”
Mount Zion Temple is one of 13 Reform Congregations within the Movement to be honored this year for outstanding social action work. As we read in Pirkei Avot, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” This year’s Fain Award winners are a powerful lesson in how congregations around North America can engage in the critical issues that confront us as Jews and global citizens. They are an inspiration to the Reform Movement and beyond.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.