Compassion & Justice Group Resources

Jewish Gateways Compassion & Justice Group Meeting

January 12, 2017




  1. Please join us for our next meeting, Thursday, February 16, 7:00-9:00pm, same location in North Berkeley. 

  2. Help learn more about the issues, so we can take next steps. Can you contact a person or place on the lists below? We'll give you whatever info you need to get started.


For either of these actions, get info and RSVP here.

We were an energized 17 people gathered on a rainy night in a warm living room. We introduced ourselves and talked about why we had come. Each of us wanted to find a way to be resilient, to resist what might be happening in our country in the near future, and to do so with like minded others.


We sang: “Hinei Ma Tov” (how good it is to be together) at the beginning of our meeting, and “Oseh Shalom” (help us to make peace for all the people Israel and all who dwell on earth) at the end of the gathering. 


We call the Jewish Gateways social action group the Compassion and Justice Group because we draw on these key Jewish values. Rabbi Bridget taught about them and we responded.


  • “Justice, justice, you shall pursue” (Torah, Book of Deuteronomy, 16:20). Why might the teaching say “justice” twice?

    • Participants’ responses included: To emphasize how important justice is … there’s more than one way to bring justice to a situation … we need to pursue justice in a just manner …

  • “Start with compassion” (commentary on the Torah by Rabbi A.Y. Greenberg). Why would this be important?

    • Participants’ responses included: We can understand a situation and the people involved better if we truly listen to and try to understand them … justice needs to respond to human concerns … we want to work for justice in a way that builds compassion…

  • Jewish tradition teaches that both justice and compassion are key to creating a better world, that it’s important to pay attention to the balance between the two, and that, overall, we need to lean more towards compassion.


Rosie Kaplan and Barbara Anscher, Compassion & Justice co-chairs, summarized the input gathered from our previous brainstorming meeting in December and from the subsequent survey that was sent to Jewish Gateways participants to choose areas for action that fit these criteria:

  1. To make a difference  

  2. To build community while doing that work,

  3. To do work that might have special impact for us, as a Jewish group, to do.


Of the many suggested issues (which may become part of our work in the future) the two areas of focus for Compassion & Justice for now will be homelessness and anti-Muslim bigotry.

We then divided into two groups, one focused on homelessness and the other on anti-Muslim bigotry. Each group brainstormed ideas for

  1. Gathering more information about the issue

  2. Making contact with others working on the issue

  3. Identifying concrete actions for quick start up

Anti-Muslim bigotry group

Ideas to explore, with name of person who will do follow up

  1. Find out about Coffee with a Muslim (Rachel)

  2. Call Islamic cultural center to explore possibilities for connection (Rachel)

  3. Find out about "dinners for Syrian refugees" (Sue, who volunteered to do whatever was needed)

  4. Learn what schools are doing with Muslim students and parents (Susan at John Muir, Rachel at Berkeley High, Alex at Willard)

  5. Find out about “Community Sing,” including possibilities at King (Rachel)

  6. Find out what national and local Muslim organizations are doing (Sue - Shoulder to Shoulder, Council on American Islamic Relations; Adrianne - Muslim advocates)

  7. Contra Costa Interfaith Council (Yehudit)

  8. Attend Kehilla Community Synagogue program, Deepen Your Understanding of Jan. 26, 7:00pm (Yehudit)

  9. Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (Adrianne)

  10. Kol Hadash (Adrianne)

  11. Jewish Community & Family Services serving refugees (Adrianne)

  12. Find Muslim individuals - women, activists, young people at Cal, etc. to talk with about this (Chava, Adrianne, others)

  13. Compile a reading list to learn about Islam, Sunni/Shia, issues (Adrianne, Mike)


Homelessness group

Questions to be researched:

  1. Why is homelessness a problem?

    • Income inequality

    • Systemic racism

    • Lack of mental health/addiction services

    • Lack of support for formerly incarcerated

    • Cost of housing/living increases

    • Poor rent control laws

  2. How can we help get people housed? Promote policies that help people get housed?

  3. How can we increase compassion and understanding in the housed community?

  4. What are small actions we can take to chip away at the problem while working on policy issues?

    • Prepare and deliver food to encampments (Toby, Karen, and Rosie will plan activity)

    • Continue involvement with YEAH! (meals, donations, advocacy

  5. What are the needs of various homeless groups?

    • Needle exchange

    • Protection from police

    • Clothing, food, toiletries, socks

  6. What is already being done locally?

  7. What is our geographic region?

  8. What are some models that WORK? In other communities or countries?

  9. What partners shall we seek (for multi-generational involvement)?

    • Public Schools (Toni has contacts)

    • Berkeley High, Homeless Support Club (Karen to contact)

    • Dorothy Day House

  10. What homeless services coalitions should we contact regarding effective volunteer support?


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