Our Tzedek Partners

To accomplish our vision Mount Zion Temple has formed partnerships with three community organizations which help our members fulfill our vision:

Neighborhood HouseJewish Community Action, Jeremiah Program

Neighborhood House

179 Robie Street East, Saint Paul MN 55107
651-789-2500, www.neighb.org


Located on the West Side of Saint Paul, Neighborhood House was founded by the women of Mount Zion Temple 113 years ago and is committed to the success of immigrants, refugees, and youth. It is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual community center with programs in basic needs, education and youth leadership. The Mitzvah Food Shelf, an initiative of Mount Zion’s Sisterhood, is a major supporter of the Neighborhood House food shelf. Over 70 Mount Zion volunteers help with almost all aspects of Neighborhood House programs. To find out what they do, see Volunteer at Neighborhood House in the section below.

Volunteer at Neighborhood House
Have you been thinking about volunteering at Neighborhood House but are having a little trouble making the jump from your good intentions to action? There are many ways to get started, whether you want to volunteer occasionally or regularly. The one-time opportunities are often activities that can involve the whole family, such as helping with a food drive or collecting produce at the Farmers’ Market.

There is a great need for people to teach English to immigrants and refugees. Training is provided, and you do not need to have previous teaching experience. One of our elderly congregants with a lifetime of remarkable accomplishments said that teaching English at Neighborhood House is the most rewarding thing she has ever done.

Neighborhood House volunteers see the daily struggles faced by immigrants and the courage and hard work that goes into learning the skills necessary to succeed in this country. They learn fascinating things about worlds they never knew, because the participants are also teachers.

Here are some of the things that our Mount Zion congregants are doing at Neighborhood House as volunteers:

  • teaching or assisting with classes in English Language Learning, GED preparation, and computer skills
  • helping with food drives, unloading trucks, sorting food, stocking the food shelf, bagging rice, and interacting with families while helping them shop for food
  • collecting produce donations at the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market
  • picking up and delivering food donations to Neighborhood House
  • holding food drives at their workplace, school, in their neighborhood or organizations
  • hosting fund raising events in their homes
  • reading books with children and assisting with child literacy programs that prepare children to succeed in kindergarten
  • providing child care while parents are in class
  • teaching cooking classes for children
  • tutoring students after school
  • helping high school students prepare for college
  • helping bag and distribute school supplies to families
  • evaluating programs
  • serving as Youth Leadership volunteers
  • helping with clerical or administrative tasks
  • serving on 7 committees
  • serving on the Board of Directors

Whether you are a child bagging rice for the food shelf or a retiree discovering the joy of doing something you’ve never tried before, you will know that you are needed and appreciated at Neighborhood House, and that you are helping to repair the world. In the immortal words of Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.”

Click here to see a current listing of volunteer opportunities. A volunteer application is available on line. For more information, contact Patti Jo (P.J.) Pofahl, Mount Zion Tzedek Liaison to Neighborhood House at 651-646-2217 or by e-mail

Mitzvah Food Shelf

The Mitzvah Food Shelf Project is coordinated by the Mount Zion Temple Sisterhood which partners with Neighborhood House. Children bring food donations to Religious School and adults make generous financial contributions to our year-round food drive.

The most needed items are:

  • Flour, sugar, cooking oil, salt
  • Rice (basmati, long-grained, sweet, Jasmine, Kokuho)
  • Dried beans, peas, and lentils (all varieties)
  • Canned meats and peanut butter
  • Canned or dried fruit
  • Breakfast cereal and healthy snacks
  • Personal care products (toothpaste, TP, soap, diapers)
  • Used grocery bags to be re-used at the food shelf

These donations may be taken to the classrooms or placed in the donation bin in the Mount Zion Pistner Lobby.

Money goes four times as far as food donations and allows the food shelf to buy exactly what is needed when it is needed. Please make checks payable to the Mitzvah Food Shelf and mail to temple (1300 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105).

All of our donations of food and money are given to the Neighborhood House Food Shelf, serving immigrants, refugees, senior citizens, and others in need. In order to utilize the Neighborhood House Food Shelf, participants are required to meet with a case worker who connects them to a network of resources to help them address their challenges. Neighborhood House is committed to helping its participants break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient, active community members.

Neighborhood House has the largest single-site food shelf in Ramsey County, providing culturally appropriate food to over 3,300 individuals every month. Half of the recipients are children. If you have enough to eat, please give generously to those who don’t.

How to Volunteer at Neighborhood House
There are volunteer opportunities for everyone, whether you want to volunteer by yourself, with friends, or with family. Click here to see a current listing of volunteer opportunities. A volunteer application is available on line. For more information, contact Patti Jo (P.J.) Pofahl, Mount Zion Tzedek Liaison to Neighborhood House at 651-646-2217 or by e-mail

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Jewish Community Action


Founded in 1995, Jewish Community Action brings together Jewish people from diverse traditions and perspectives to promote understanding and take action on social and economic justice issues in Minnesota. The organization has tackled many issues of the day including Affordable Housing, Community Reinvestment, Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice, Planning the Central Corridor and Health Care Reform. Over many years now, Jewish Community Action has helped Mount Zion enrich our long history of tzedek work by teaching our members about topical social justice issues, mobilizing us to contact our elected officials and helping us to take action on the issues about which we feel a passion. They helped us organize the Social Justice House Parties, supplying training, materials and decision-making guidance. Since those Parties, Jewish Community Action has partnered with us as we have pursued The Children’s Initiative, a campaign to address the root causes of the struggles that so many of Minnesota’s children face.  As part of our congregational initiative in 2011-12 to support inclusion and equality for LGBT people, we have joined JCA to fight against passage of the Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution.

There are well over 50 Mount Zion members who are also members of Jewish Community Action as well as two people serving on the Board. Membership and participation on any of their current issues are always welcome

How to Get Involved with The Children’s Initiative and Jewish Community Action
Get involved! If you have any questions about Jewish Community Action or Mount Zion’s social justice work, click here.

Current activity

Mary Ann Wark e-mail
Lennie Major e-mail

Mount Zion Temple/Jewish Community Action Children’s Initiative currently is working in partnership with St. Paul Promise Neighborhood. The Promise Neighborhood is an effort to assure success from cradle to career in the Summit/University Area of St. Paul. A federal planning grant was given to three way partnership of the city of St. Paul, the St. Paul School District and Wilder Foundation to create the initiative which begin in the fall of 2011. For more information about the Promise Neighborhood please click here.

In preparation for active participation in the Promise Neighborhood Mount Zion Children’s Initiative is creating opportunities for Mount Zion members to get involved in the Summit University Area.

Mount Zion hosted the MLK Breakfast Celebration on Monday, January 17, 2011 and is getting planning a variety of ways that Mount Zion members can form authentic relationships with our neighbors.

Mount Zion Temple is working with the St. Paul Fair Lending Coalition to stop mortgage foreclosures in the University Avenue area and organize the community to demand fair lending practices from financial institutions.

Mount Zion Temple is investigating getting engaged with the Health Corridor for All Initiative. Assuring the University Avenue community has input into how the light rail gets implemented and what happens to the community during construction and afterwards.

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Jeremiah Program



At Jeremiah Program, low-income single mothers make a commitment to completing a post-secondary education, launching a successful career and creating stability and prosperity for their children—all while living in an affordable, safe housing environment. The Saint Paul campus is located on Concordia Avenue. Volunteers from Mount Zion have participated in the Cook for Kids Program, staffed the front desk, and helped to set up a library for children and adults.

How to Get Involved with Jeremiah Program
The program can always use more volunteers! To get involved, look at the opportunities on the website.

Here are just a few urgent needs:

  • Caring for Kids – Do you enjoy playing with children? Do you have a heart for service? Then call today to help in our Child Development Center on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the St. Paul Campus. Orientation is provided. Must be ages 16 or older. Do you have a flexible schedule during the day but not a lot of time to commit to a regular weekly volunteer routine? We are currently seeking volunteers to assist in our Child Development Center on one Tuesday or Wednesday out of the month between 1-3pm. During this time the kids will be napping and our staff will be attending their monthly staff meeting. To volunteer, please complete an application online.
  • Hospitality Desk – Volunteering at the Hospitality Desk is a volunteer position that gives you such a great opportunity to really connect with all sides of our organization. You will represent Jeremiah Program by hosting our front desk and ensuring smooth operations of our campus by providing support to our Senior Operations Administrator. This position will interact with our families, other volunteers, and Jeremiah Program staff. This position has immediate openings on Tuesday evenings from 4-7:30pm and Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Welcome Baskets – Each time a new family moves into Jeremiah Program, they receive a welcome basket filled with items that are useful when settling into a new home. This is an excellent opportunity to support Jeremiah Program, and a way you can have a direct and immediate impact assisting our single mom students and their children on their journey from poverty to prosperity.

At Jeremiah Program, young women make a commitment to self-improvement through education and employment. At our Campus communities, Jeremiah Program staff work to empower single moms to complete their education, launch successful careers, and create a stable foundation of prosperity on which their children can grow and thrive.

Click here for a March 2014 article about Jeremiah in the New York Times.

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