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Working for social justice and supporting those in need are core values of Shaarei Shamayim. In addition to holding monthly discussions on social justice issues and giving tzedakah on a yearly basis to local non-profits, we participate in and organize a variety of projects.  To receive a weekly email with updates about these projects, as well as ways of getting involved both within Shaarei Shamayim and in Madison, please email Ryan at director@shamayim.org.

We are currently establishing a new process to encourage members to form working groups that address issues we care about. Take a look at our current projects (below, beneath criteria) and past projects to get a sense of our priorities.

Criteria for CSS Social Action Projects - In the interest of working collectively on social action initiatives that align with our community’s values, we have established the following project criteria: 

  • Work should be mutually beneficial (to those participating in the project and for the broader community) & should have an explicit purpose/outcome(s).
  • We can articulate how the project connects to Jewish values.
  • The project is in alignment with our Congregation’s vision and values.
  • The project includes an education component (for members of the congregation) & training if needed (so that there is clear understanding of the needs we are serving  & how it connects to Jewish values).
  • As part of the project, there are opportunities for individual and collective reflection on what we are learning and what we need to continue learning.
  • The project is led by a core team of a number of people (appropriate to the scope of the project) who are committed to moving it forward.
  • There is a plan in place to recruit a sufficient number of volunteers to sustain the project for its duration.
  • We strive to collaborate with other organizations that are already addressing the issue at hand; we avoid competition with other organizations for limited resources.
  • For issues that involve substantial discord or conflict (or the potential for discord or conflict), we will embrace dialogue, education, and conversation events. We will not endorse or promote social action projects that invite strong dissent within the community. 
  • The project serves the interests of the members of our congregation (could include B’nei mitzvah students, Gesher students, as well as adult congregants).

The following are a few of the projects and organizations that Shaarei Shamayim currently supports. You can read more about past projects here.

Resettling Refugees through Jewish Social Services – Jewish Social Services was approved to become a refugee resettlement site as a HIAS affiliate.  They expect to resettle 50 refugees in their first year.  Shaarei Shamayim will be working with Jewish Social Services to help refugees get the support they need when they move to Madison. Our group will help with many different tasks, including move-in preparation, one-on-one interaction, and coordination/advocacy.  For a brief video about HIAS, the Jewish experience, and today's refugees, see HIAS: For the Refugee.

Protecting and Advocating for Vulnerable Communities – Shaarei Shamayim is involved in local organizing efforts to reach out to Madison's Latino and Muslim communities. We are building community in our congregation and providing space for reflection, advocacy, and action. We are currently raising money to support Voces de la Frontera, see our Voces Solidarity Challenge.

We have written a Pledge of Solidarity - if you are Jewish or a member of a Jewish household and you live in Madison or its surrounding areas, please consider signing it.

Supporting the LGBTQ community - Each year Shaarei Shamayim marches in the Outreach Pride Parade.

Tue, February 27 2024 18 Adar I 5784