Social Action

Social Action

Temple Emanu-El is known throughout the San Diego area for its commitment to the tradition of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the world)—demonstrated by its wide-ranging Social Action programs.

Ongoing monthly efforts include serving 600-800 hungry San Diegans at the St. Vincent De Paul Hunger Project and our Mitzvah of the Month collections. Our Bagel Brigade volunteers deliver unsold bagels donated by Einstein Brother’s to Rachel’s Women’s Center. Temple members also reach out to the community by making and distributing blankets for the Linus Project, participating in the annual Stand Down for homeless veterans, marching in the Pride Parade, and clipping coupons for the Navy Marine Relief Society.  We also have an annual food drive during the High Holy Days for Jewish Family Service, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, and other organizations.

Temple Emanu-El was twice awarded the prestigious Irving Fain Award from the Union for Reform Judaism. Our Social Action Committee was honored for the wide array of social action opportunities that are provided to the congregation, ranging from direct service to advocacy, and once specifically for our work with the Interfaith Shelter Network.

By getting involved in Temple Emanu-El’s Social Action projects, you can make an important difference in our community. Please contact those listed for each project to participate, or send an email to  Social Action Committee meetings are held at 6:30 pm on the first Thursday of each month at the Temple.


Hunger Project at St. Vincent de Paul

Hunger Project Celebrates 37th Anniversary

The Hunger Project started its 38 th  year on March 10, 2024. It is amazing that the project Joan Kutner began in 1986 is still operating today, inspiring guests and volunteers alike. Temple Emanu-El has partnered with Congregation Beth Israel since the very beginning of this project. It has been wonderful to see volunteers from the early days of the project coming back with their children and their grandchildren. The dining room at the Paul Mirabile Center (PMC) at St. Vincent is open every Sunday morning. Temple Emanu-El had provided most of the volunteers on the first Sunday of each month, but you are welcome to come any Sunday that fits your schedule. All volunteers, whether from Emanu-El or not, need to create an account at Father Joe’s website, and sign up for the date you would like to attend at:

Please sign up and join us on a Sunday to make a difference in our community. High school students who are required to provide community service hours can get a letter signed on the morning they work, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah students who need service projects are very welcome. Contributions to the Social Action Hunger Project Fund go specifically to support our work on Sundays.

For any questions, please contact Jennifer Nemeth at

1st Sunday of the month, 8:30 am–11:30 am

Help serve 600–800 hungry San Diegans at St. Vincent De Paul. (Children 12 and older are also welcome to serve with an accompanying parent)

Bagel Brigade

Every Wednesday afternoon Einstein Brothers Bagels on Lake Murray and Navajo donates their unsold bagels when the store closes at 5:00 pm. Our job is to transport those bagels to Rachel’s Women’s Center, an emergency shelter downtown for women and children. To become a member of the Bagel Brigade (your turn will come every 3 – 4 months) or try it once, please contact project chair Ron Reff at (619) 224-3087 or


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

After a three year pandemic hiatus, where we transitioned to on line Zoom
programs, we welcomed back the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service in

People of different faiths and different cultural backgrounds come together for
the good of the San Diego community. All ages and skill levels are welcome.
Make it a “day on” rather than a “day off” to honor Dr. King’s work.

Temple members Shari Ressel and Randy Silverstein working at the 2023 Day of Service in Balboa Park

Monarch School

Founded in 1988, the Monarch School and its committed team of teachers, administrators and volunteers is dedicated to providing homeless and at-risk children with an accredited education while caring for their basic needs. Today, more than 300 kids between the ages of 4 and 19 are enrolled at Monarch School. They have an exceptionally successful program that serves those in our San Diego community most in need. Temple Emanu-El’s Social Action Committee is organizing different ways in which we can help the Monarch School, including toiletries collection and tutoring. (See the Tutoring section under Community Projects.)

Toiletries Collection

Monarch School uses around 170 toiletry “care packages” for their students each month. We collect regular size items, not jumbo or trial, and assemble the care packages for the school to distribute. The only items needed are body wash (or soap), shampoo & conditioner, toothpaste, body lotion/moisturizer, women’s deodorant and hair gel, men’s deodorant and hair gel. Place your toiletries in the barrel in the front office lobby of the Temple, marked for Monarch School, and the Social Action Committee will package and deliver them. For more information on toiletries for Monarch School, contact Bill Seager at (619) 435-8130 or email him at  As of January 2020 we have donated 966 toiletry kits for the students.

Dinners for the Safe Parking Program

Jewish Family Service provides a safe place for homeless individuals and families who are living in their cars and working toward self sufficiency. We provide dinner several times a year. Our dinner volunteers work from the same basic menu. For more information, contact Suzanne Schulman at
This is a project you may want to organize with a group of friends or your havurah.  JFS operates several locations in San Diego for the Safe Parking Program.

High Holy Day Food Drive

Our annual Yom Kippur Food Drive benefits the Hand Up Food Pantry at JFS and other places in the San Diego community.  In 2019, we collected 12,953 pounds of food for JFS, pet food for Rancho Coastal Humane Society and toiletries for Monarch School and Rachel’s Women’s Center. In addition, we received many donations of grocery gift cards and cash to support this project.

Social Action Fund Donations

Money contributed to the Social Action Fund supports carefully screened organizations and projects in America, Israel and around the world.  Contributions to the Social Action Hunger Project Fund directly support this project at St. Vincent de Paul.

Project Linus

At some point in life, everyone needs a blanket to hold. The Linus Project distributes blankets to children in stressful situations at 28 hospitals and agencies throughout San Diego County. The pattern is up to you, but the blankets must be hand made in washable, child friendly colors. Blankets may be knitted, crocheted or quilted, or you may make an easy “no sew” fleece blanket. For patterns and additional information about the project, please visit

Stand Down for Homeless Veterans

Late June/Mid-July each year
Veterans Village of San Diego hosts this event, held in downtown San Diego. This year approximately 1,000 homeless veterans are expected with 20% of them women. Please visit for more information.

San Diego LGBT Pride Parade

Mid-July each year
Every year, Temple Emanu-El has a contingent marching in the LGBT Pride Parade in support of those with alternative lifestyles.  In 1998, ours was the first Jewish congregation to participate in the parade. We have marched every year since then, and it is truly an uplifting, exhilarating and positive experience.  The parade officially begins at 10 am at University Avenue and Normal Street and continues for just over one mile. Parking around the parade route can be difficult, but there are free shuttle buses from the Old Naval Hospital on Park Blvd. and President’s Way beginning at 8 am. We have an extremely limited number of riding spaces for the parade. To reserve one, or for any other questions, please contact Barbara Pollack at (619) 224-3087 or  Our participation in the parade is important, because it shows San Diego that Temple Emanu-El is a supportive and safe community for all Jews in the San Diego area.

Thanksgiving Dinner at San Diego Center for the Blind

Mid-November each year Temple members team up with the Hillcrest-Mission Valley Lion’s Club to serve a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to 240 sight impaired members of the Center.

Mitzvah of the Month

Each month, the Social Action Committee picks a project to bring to our community’s attention.  This project will be highlighted on the home page of this web site, in Ha-Sofer, the monthly bulletin, in the Shofar email blasts and in other publicity.

Senior Gleaners

Senior Gleaners, founded in 1994, gathers leftover food from grocery stores and orchards and distributes them through carefully screened charitable organizations in San Diego County. Last year, over 390,000 pounds of food reached people in need. This non-profit group has no paid staff, and no food is purchased. Money collected through donations or grants are used solely to help with rent for the warehouse and upkeep on vans to pick up food. Volunteers, age 55 and up, are needed to help with gathering food from the stores and picking in orchards.
To pick up day-old food from grocery stores and deliver to the Senior Gleaners warehouse, call (619) 209-1839. To help with picking in orchards, call Donna Wiens at (760) 432-0772.

Coupon Mitzvah Project

Many of our military families struggle to feed their families. There is an easy, low-cost way that you can help them stretch their food budgets. Clip unexpired newspaper coupons (please be sure they have at least 30 days to use the coupons) and mail them directly to:
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society
MCAS Miramar, P.O. Box 45339
San Diego, CA 92145-0339
You may write “From Temple Emanu-El” on the envelope flap, enclose a note “from your friends at Temple Emanu-El,” or send anonymously if you prefer.

Tutors Needed In San Diego

Tutors are needed at a variety of programs in San Diego. Work with children, adults and families on literacy, math, general school work and preparation for citizenship. No experience is necessary, but most programs require a background check and provide an orientation session. Please contact the organization directly for more information.

San Diego Refugee Tutoring

Make a difference for students attending Ibarra Elementary School in City Heights. This is a one-to-one after school program providing no-cost academic tutoring, as well as art, dance and some varied extracurricular activities. An orientation session is provided, but no formal training is required.  Contact site coordinator Melissa Phillips through their website at

Monarch School

Tutors are needed in all areas. No special skills are needed, but tutors need to attend a one-hour orientation session and commit to a weekly tutoring schedule. To participate in their tutoring program, please contact Monarch’s volunteer coordinator Sarah Krueger at (619) 652-4100 ext. 1570 or email her at

READ San Diego Adult Literacy

Free literary instruction for adults 18 years and older is available through the San Diego Public Library.  For more information, call (619) 238-6603 or see the library website at

International Rescue Committee

Tutors at the IRC work with both adults and children. High school students as well as adults are encouraged to apply as tutors in this program. For more information on their programs, call (619) 641-7510 or visit their website,

San Diego Council on Literacy

This umbrella agency works with 24 affiliated literacy programs in San Diego to help children and adults, and also provides ESL (English as a Second Language) learning. Call their literacy hotline at (888) 850-7323, their local office at (619) 574-1641, or visit their website,

Oasis Inter-generational Tutoring Program

Oasis matches adult tutors with children in grades K–4. Contact Kathryn Gray, Tutoring Coordinator, at (619) 269-8014 or visit their website,

SAY San Diego

(Social Advocates for Youth)
SAY tutors work with elementary and middle school students after school with reading, writing, math, crafts and other activities. Contact them at (858) 565-4148 ext. 261, or visit their website,

Words Alive

Two very different programs can use volunteers. Read-Aloud focuses on Preschool – grade 3 in low income communities across the county to develop a love of reading and literature. Teen Services Book Group works with the Juvenile Court and Community Schools to prepare at-risk teens for college and career readiness. Monthly book discussions improve reading levels, vocabulary, literary analysis and critical thinking.  For more information, see their website at or contact volunteer coordinator Christina Meeker at (858) 274-9673 or

Links to other Social Action Sites

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC)
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
Association of Reform Zionists of America ARZA/WORLD UNION
Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger
The Hunger Site (donate free food)
Israel Religious Action Center
North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)
St. Vincent de Paul Village
Stand Down for Homeless Veterans
Being Alive San Diego (HIV/AIDS Resources)
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Nothing But Nets

Additional Information

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