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Social Action

Social Justice at CBI - It’s in our DNA

At CBI, we have a history of making a difference. Not only were we the first Jewish congregation in Austin, we were the first synagogue in Austin with a female rabbi, with a female cantor, with a gay rabbi, with a gay cantor. Our senior rabbi was the first in Austin to perform same sex commitment ceremonies. We pioneered the MLK Social Justice Weekend and we are long-time supporters of the Central Texas Food Bank, Refugee Services of Texas, and Interfaith Action of Central Texas.

As our daily headlines list the brokenness of our world, we come together as a congregation to lay the groundwork of a better normal ahead. We undertake this work with a seriousness of purpose and light hearts. Let us know how you want to get involved!


The Social Action Committee is an inclusive group of volunteers at Congregation Beth Israel. Through education (limud), direct action (gimilut hasadim) and advocacy (tzedek tirdof), we promote social justice at both a local and societal level. This includes providing direct service, as well as working to influence policies and structures, so the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam can be realized in the public square. As a URJ Brit Olam congregation, we are deeply connected to the work of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC) and RAC-TX. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, our work is completely nonpartisan.


Social justice is a deeply-held Jewish value. Through social justice, we strive to change policies, structures, and institutions, and social norms so that they work on behalf of the common good. Social Justice also includes direct service and awareness initiatives that play a role in changing hearts and minds that can lead to systemic change. The Social Action Committee is an inclusive planning group that provides opportunities for all congregants to get involved, surfaces issues of concern, and organizes for action that leads to effective social change.

Stay Connected - Subscribe to the Tzaddik, Austin’s Reform Jewish Social Justice Newsletter

Current Projects

Civic Engagement - Pledge to vote and sign up for volunteer opportunities

Every Voice, Every Vote 2020 Campaign    

  • Achieving 100% congregational voter turnout in November.
  • Combating voter suppression in Texas and in marginalized communities across the country, as well as advocate local county officials for safe and equitable access to the polls.
  • Engaging student and first-time voters.

Austin City Budget

On July 21, 2020 the Social Action Committee held a virtual forum with Council Member Alison Alter to learn about Austin’s City Budget and how to effectively testify and engage with the City Council during the city budget process. We look forward to continuing engagement with the City Council on local issues. 

Sign up to get involved in CBI’s civic engagement efforts

Chavuraction Circles: Gathering, Learning & Acting Together

A “Chavurah” is an informal small group of congregation members, which meets regularly, usually once a month in each other’s homes (virtually during the pandemic), to create bonds of friendship. The mission of this group is to have a safe place in which we learn more about social justice together, become more connected with like-minded congregants, and ultimately grow as Jews and humans, so that , as Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.”

As we approach the High Holy Days, we are piloting Chavuraction Circles as an opportunity to explore anti-racism topics together and create a long-term initiative to build an anti-racist culture in our CBI and our local community. Rollout to the entire community will begin in the 4th quarter of 2020. Click here for a List of Anti-Racism resources.

Immigrant Justice Action  

Throughout our Torah, we are commanded to welcome the stranger in our midst. Here at Congregation Beth Israel, we firmly believe that we have a sacred duty to help those seeking asylum from dangerous and troubling lives in the country of their birth, looking for a safer life in the United States.

Homelessness Justice Action  

As Jews, we are commanded to help the most vulnerable among us. At CBI, we know how important it is to uphold this value, to give tzedakah, to provide resources for those who need them the most, and to speak up for the people impacted by homelessness in our world.

Other social action opportunities include:

  • Providing respite for those caring for Alzheimer’s sufferers with Circle of Friends. (This program is on hiatus.)
  • Regular food drives and volunteer days to benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.
  • Working as a Welcome Team for the Refugee Services of Texas.
  • Providing volunteers as needed for local community and interfaith needs.
Sat, October 24 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781