Jackie Olenick & Lynne Foster Shifriss

Social Justice Task Forces

Back Pack Buddies Works with MCCSC to provide food for kids in need on weekends and school holidays. Contact: Julie Bloom

Bloomington Refugee Support Network Committed to strong advocacy and fundraising for increased refugee resettlement and private sponsorship of refugees. The group also educates the public about the plight and needs of refugees. Contact: Diane Legomsky

Gun Sense Educates on the epidemic of gun violence, studying Jewish sources together to increase dialogue, and exploring what can be done to engage in the proactive process of creating safer spaces, and encouraging change on the state and national levels. Contact: Amy Jackson

Interfaith Works to encourage interfaith dialogue and activities between faith communities and people of different faiths. Contact: Rabbi Besser

Immigration Justice Works to serve the needs of immigrants in Bloomington and South-Central Indiana, regardless of citizenship status. Contact: Aaron Buratti

Oseh Shalom: Making Peace One Stitch at a Time! Knitting/crocheting small projects for local charitable organizations. Contact: Joanna Butler

Gimilut Hasidim Buys pizza once a month, along with other foods to serve homeless people at Seminary Park or Bethel AME. Producing resource guide for homeless folks who come for the pizza meal. Contact: Paul Eisenberg

Reproductive Rights Works in conjunction with Monroe County National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL to advocate for reproductive rights for women. Contact: Lynne Foster Shifriss

Tzedakah Initiative Raises money from Beth Shalom members and friends. Donations are "bundled" and awarded annually to one or more local not-for-profit organizations with a positive and supportive influence on people in need in Bloomington. Contact: Paula Gordon & Stephen Pock

Social justice Committee


It is our mission  to address the social justice issues of our time in keeping with Jewish values. We are charged with engaging the world directly and as a community. As such, we will think globally and act locally for justice.


In keeping with the religious imperatives of Judaism, our congregation’s definition of social justice embraces the guiding value of Tikkun Olam -- not only mending what is broken but making the world right and the planet sustainable. Social justice involves taking constructive action to ensure that all individuals and their communities flourish. This means that all members of a society have access to high quality and equitable education, health, and other vital social services, to decent housing and living conditions, and work that allows for meaningful and creative contributions to society as well as to self-fulfillment. 

As Nobel Peace Laureate Amartya Sen has so eloquently noted, human flourishing means that all individuals enjoy a fundamental right to pursue “lives they have reason to value.” This ideal requires that a community inspired by the value of Tikkun Olam oppose any “ism” that diminishes or denigrates rather than empowers or ennobles other humans.

The obligation to work on behalf of a just society means that as individuals and as a religious community we will be driven by notions of a “mitzvah” to continually strive to ensure that “there will be no needy person in your land” (Deut. 15:4, 7, 11). As there are many such needy people “among us ” – a community that extends from the local to the global, -- we must answer those questions raised by Hillel: “And If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?

The time is now and we, in whatever ways possible, are the agents of social change for a better world. According to Pirkei Avot , “We are not required to complete the work but neither are we free to neglect it.”

I Felt My Legs Were Praying Award

Our first award goes to Diane Legomsky. Besides our thanks, each month's recipient will get a pin showing Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama. Heschel later wrote that "I felt my legs were praying." We thought this was a good symbol of putting our faith into action.