l’taken olam b’malchut shaddai ~ to establish/fix the world under the kingdom of God. ~Aleinu Prayer
Temple B’nai Torah has a strong tradition of social action and social justice work. We are currently focused on a number of initiatives:
Homelessness and Hunger – From working with the City of Bellevue to adopt a more humane approach to hosting Tent City and participating in several programs that provide meals for those in need, we have a long history of advocating for homeless people, legally and practically.
Gun Law Awareness and Advocacy – Keeping abreast of current advocacy work underway in our state and nation by Jewish organizations, we plan to continue our own discussions and advocacy in this area.
Syrian Refugees – We have partnered with Jewish Family Services and our friends in the Muslim community to begin the process of setting our long-term goals in this pressing global crisis.
Environmental Impact – Our Greening subcommittee is committed to revising our internal processes to reduce waste and costs and decrease our impact on the earth.
We also participate in numerous other events throughout the year, including a community-wide service day, a bone marrow drive, “Gardening for Good” providing fresh produce for our local food bank, and voter registration. Contact Donna Blankinship at [email protected].
Temple B'nai Torah has a decades-long history of leading social action initiatives in the Pacific Northwest Jewish community. Our social action projects have included bi-annual hosting of Tent City (a 90-day encampment of homeless adults), providing volunteers each year to Habitat for Humanity, supporting Congregations for the Homeless, and participating in monthly food banks, strong support of Marriage Equality and among many other initiatives. We strive to support and amplify URJ and Religious Action Center initiatives.
I-1491 Passes in 2016 with a 70% Majority, Empowering Families to Prevent Tragedies and Save Lives!
I-594 Passes in 2014 by an Overwhelming Majority, a Major Victory for Gun Safety in Washington State!
Ballot Initiative I-594 to institute universal background checks including for private sales in Washington passed by an overwhelming majority of 59.7% while the counter-initiative that would have prevented background checks in Washington State failed resoundingly. Laws similar to this one have been passed by other states, including last year in Maryland where the new law has already led to a significant drop in gun deaths state-wide. Leading up to November 4, Reform congregations in the state - including Temple B’nai Torah - marched with a diverse group of interfaith communities in the Seattle area from Temple de Hirsch Sinai to the King County Administration Building to cast their ballots.
Rachel Laser, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaim Deputy Director, wrote earlier this month in the Huffington Post: “Each of us – gun owner or not- has an obligation to combat this national epidemic. As Reform Jews, we feel a particular responsibility. We take to heart the words we read in the book of Exodus that command: 'Thou shalt not kill.' "
Promote and Participate in Interfaith Dialogue
The summer of 2013 at TBT saw an unprecedented moment in Interfaith history. TBT and the local Ahmadiyya Muslim community came together to pray, learn, and eat. Together we broke the fasts of Tisha B'av and Ramadan in an event that received attention from press as far away as New York!
- We participate in an Interfaith Covenant in cooperation with neighboring religious institutions. This has lead to educational programs as well as joint social action programs, a multi-faith Thanksgiving service, and other events.
- Together we Build - an Interfaith Coalition of Christians, Jews, and Muslims seeking to find common ground and learning from one another as we work together to build houses for low-income families in East King County, Washington. TBT has been a part of this effort since its inception in 2001. In addition to building at a Habitat site for six days each year, some participants cook together in one of the congregation’s kitchens to provide the volunteers at the build site with nutritious meals that follow all the faith groups’ dietary rules and the group has an interfaith service at the end of each build season. This successful program has led to other educational and cross cultural events during the rest of the year as well as long term friendships.
Once a month hot dinners are provided for those in need at the Crossroads Community Dinner. Help is needed with cooking, shopping (or providing grocery gift cards), serving, and clean up. Contact Suzanne or Jody at [email protected].
We maintain a Mitzvah Garden to provide fresh produce for area food banks and for Crossroads Community dinners and also organize an annual gleaning at Stocker’s Farm in Snohomish to harvest food to donate.
Mazon – donations are sought at the High Holy Days and other notable times of the year to help with this Jewish organization respond to hunger needs worldwide. Our 25 year commitment to Mazon has been recognized nationally.
Jewish Family Service Food Bank – TBT actively participates in holiday food drives and food bank sorting events.
Protect Against Homelessness and Poverty
Congregations for the Homeless – In 2010 TBT joined with this Eastside organization to help end homeless and to provide meals when one our neighboring churches is hosting a shelter.
Together We Build is an Interfaith Coalition of Christians, Jews, and Muslims seeking to find common ground and learning from one another as we work together to build houses for low-income families in East King County, Washington. TBT has been a part of this effort since its inception in 2001.
Support for SHARE, Tent City IV, and Puget Sound Jewish Coalition on Homelessness – TBT is one of the rotating host locations for has hosted Tent City. In addition to providing a place to sleep, we help provide meals and fulfill needs when other congregations are hosting. TBT members support the larger umbrella organization as well as advocacy through the Coalition.