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Social Action in a Pandemic

While our physical building is closed during the pandemic, the heart of Judea Reform Congregation is wide open, and we are actively engaging with our community in Tikkun Olam. Our community has come together virtually, online, while following "physical distancing" recommendations in a remarkable spirit of giving, sharing and healing. As a congregation we are finding new ways to help from home - donate, advocate, volunteer, and educate.

Social Action

When our ancestors received the Torah at Sinai, they responded in unison: Na’aseh v’Nishma: All this we will do and we will hear. According to Midrash, this show of our faith merits the salvation of the entire world. Judea Reform Congregation is a signatory to the Brit Olam, covenant with the world. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), created the Brit Olam to foster congregational work on Tzedek (justice) in addition to the Tzedakah (charity) that many engage in. 

[Read the whole Social Action story . . . ]

Our congregation is committed to:

  • Fostering a culture of sacred and civil dialogue in our community where all opinions are heard 
  • Acting in solidarity with vulnerable communities 
  • Building relationships across lines of difference in our local community 
  • Acting at the local, state/provincial, and/or federal levels to address the root causes of injustice and advocate for systemic change
  • Mobilizing around issues that resonate with our community

Subscribe to our newsletter for updated project information and initiatives, and see past issues HERE

Interested in participating in our projects and learning more about our community partnerships? Please email

JRC’s Social Action Committee is actively leading engagement in the following projects and programs:

Alleviating Hunger and Food Security

We partner on a regular basis with the largest and most inclusive of the food security and shelter programs in Durham and Orange Counties: IFC, Urban Ministries of Durham, and Families Moving Forward in Durham.

Making donations through Judea Reform’s Virtual Tzedakah Box

All donations to Judea Reform’s Virtual Tzedakah Box, between now and October 31, 2020 will be designated for hunger relief in our local community and beyond, via our partner organizations, who are serving an expanding need in these difficult times and have asked for financial donations this year.

Families Moving Forward  

Durham's family shelter, Families Moving Forward (formerly Genesis Home), provides shelter, child care, and skills training to families experiencing homelessness. Quarterly, Judea Reform congregants support this educational programming by “taking care of dinner” for two nights so that adult clients may be free to take classes that build self-sufficiency skills. During the COVID pandemic, FMF has shifted to a catering model for resident and staff safety. We remain committed to supporting meals by the Love and Nourish Project at a cost of $180 per day for all at the shelter. You can make a donation through JRC’S Team Page to support this mitzvah. Please contact lay leader Tina Prinstein for more details being a part of this program.

Jewish Community Dinner for Urban Ministries  

On the fourth Sunday of every month, our local Jewish community (Judea Reform, Beth El, Kol Haskalah, and unaffiliated Jews) provides and serves dinner at Urban Ministries of Durham for up to 250 people experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. (UMD is the large shelter near Durham’s main library, that serves anyone in need, regardless of religious affiliation, sexual orientation or identity.) 
During the pandemic, lay leader Judy Holland has adapted this model for community members to safely prepare casseroles and bag snacks and sandwiches at home. We have a contact-free delivery at JRC and a small group delivers the meals to UMD. A volunteer team of low-risk, healthy individuals preps and packages the meals in to-go boxes.  The to-go boxes are then distributed by Urban Ministries to its clients. 
We need 30 people from our Jewish community to purchase ingredients, cook, drive and assist with packaging. We would love for you to be a part of this amazing project - See what is needed by visiting the 4th Sunday on our calendar, contacting lay leader Judy Holland, or by emailing


Building Relationships Across Lines of Difference Within Our Community

Through our work with Durham CAN, and other partners, we practice tikkun olam by engaging in social actions reflective of our Jewish values, including reducing housing inequity, wage & economic injustice, systemic racism, and promoting voting rights. This work fully embraces the call issued to us as signatories of the Brit Olam, a covenant striving to create a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice, and compassion. Learn more below…

Civic Engagement 

Judea Reform Congregation maintains a strong commitment to civic engagement and voting, as a civic and Jewish value of our congregation. We recall the prophet Jeremiah who wrote during the exile to Babylonia that we are to engage deeply in the communities where we find ourselves. Learn More.

Dignified Affordable Housing and Shelter

The prophets exhorted us to follow a tradition of hospitality among the Jewish people. The Reform movement supports public policies to address and answer the grievous need for low-cost housing among people in low-income categories; and improve the quality and availability of housing for impoverished families. Judea Reform Congregation works to advocate for affordable housing in partnership with Durham CAN and actively partners with Habitat for Humanity of Durham building affordable housing monthly. To ensure safety during the COVID pandemic, Habitat stopped volunteer builds, the Habitat chapters in both Orange and Durham counties are focusing efforts on working with their residents and lenders to help residents stay in their homes. More info on our Habitat page.

Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Justice 

JRC’s Refugee Resettlement and Immigrant Justice Initiative works to ensure America remains a place which welcomes immigrants seeking safety. We welcome newly arriving refugees, helping them build a foundation to be productive members of our community. As part of our covenant with the world, we stand and act in solidarity with sister houses of faith to protect and defend our immigrant sisters and brothers. In March, just before our world turned upside down, we received an Immigrant Justice Mini Grant from the RAC. Stay tuned for information as we “virtualize” our planned educational and advocacy events and reprogram much of the grant to support our refugee and immigrant neighbors. Learn more and join us in acts of solidarity

Project Linus  

Did you know how to knit?  Do you have fabric ends to sew into a blanket? Do you want to try a new hobby and get back to an old one? Please consider joining Judea Reform’s Project Linus group to help a child in need of a comforting blanket. Project Linus is a national organization whose mission is to provide homemade blankets to children in need. Our local Project Linus chapter donates blankets to the intensive care units at Duke and UNC Hospitals and to the Ronald McDonald House, where blankets are given to sick children of all ages from infants to teens.
Judea Reform has been the “backbone” for the local chapter of Project Linus. Normally, JRC’s team of knitters, crocheters and sewers meet in person once a month on Social Action Sunday. During the pandemic, volunteers are making and storing blankets at home until Karen can collect and deliver them when our hospitals can accept donations again. Typically at Duke and UNC Hospitals, 200 blankets are distributed 5 to 6 weeks, and that doesn’t always fill the need. Lay leader Karen Wolf  hopes you will join the effort to make blankets at home. 

Durham CAN (Congregations Associations and Neighborhoods) 

Durham CAN is a local non-partisan, non-profit organization that organizes communities in Durham across religious, racial, and class lines for the public good. Durham CAN is based in congregations, associations, schools, non-profits, community health centers, and neighborhood organizations that share a concern for families and democracy, and works to strengthen its member organizations and build relationships among people and institutions across Durham County. 
Through our work with Durham CAN, Judea Reform members practice tikkun olam by engaging in social actions reflective of our Jewish values, including reducing housing inequity, wage & economic injustice, and systemic racism; as well as promoting voting rights. This work fully embraces the call issued to us as signatories of the Brit Olam, issued by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.  The Brit Olam is a covenant striving to create a world in which all people experience wholeness, justice, and compassion.
JRC’s Social Action Committee invites you to join our CAN delegation at the next Metro Council Meeting (all persons and voices welcome!). Details & schedules can be found on their calendar.  
Join our efforts and contact us at

More information on our year-round social action projects, initiatives and partnerships can be found on the side bar of this page. 

10Days10Ways: Racial Justice Reflections

This framework of 10 days of Awe · Racial Justice Reflections was developed by Temple Israel of Boston’s Tikkun Central, which works toward the mission of living Judaism together through righteous impact.

During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we as Jews challenge ourselves and our communities to reflect thoughtfully and honestly on transgressions and harms we have caused in the past year, both knowingly and unknowingly. Each of us engages differently in this tradition known as cheshbon ha’nefesh, an accounting of the soul, as we reach towards growth and transformation in the coming year. 

As a Jewish community living in a society where racial injustice has defined our history and our present, we are inspired by Jewish tradition to participate collaboratively in a process of personal and communal teshuvah, reflection, and accountability. We see a powerful opportunity in engaging our minds and spirits by learning about and turning towards racial justice in our relationships, our neighborhoods, our communities/organizations, and in our society. Grasping how racism has impacted all of our lives and histories, participants can together build trust, connection, and the resilience to transform ourselves and the brokenness we live with each day. 

Click here to learn more about Judea Reform's Racial Justice engagement and take righteous action in 5781! Judea Reform's 10Days10Ways provides thoughtful reflections, readings and resources on Racial Justice and systemic inequities.

Marian Abernathy Wins Award

Mazel Tov to congregant and leader of our Social Action Committee, Marian Abernathy, on being honored with the 2020 Governor's Volunteer Service Award for her Judea Reform social justice work with Church World Service (CWS) of Durham. Ellen Andrews, the Executive Director of CWS Durham says that "Marian is a tireless advocate for refugees and welcoming policies, and has been an invaluable (volunteer) member of our team here at CWS Durham, for many years!"  

According to Marian, “I feel like this award really should be to Judea Reform, whose community has been so engaged, active and generous in welcoming and standing in solidarity with refugees and immigrants.” 

From CWS: “Marian Abernathy has been integral to the accomplishment of our mission, with multiple notable service projects in 2019. She organized and led seven teams of 10-20 volunteers to deliver and furnish the homes of seven new refugee families, collecting and donating furniture and household items estimated in value at roughly $20,000. This contribution alone is equivalent to a part time staff member. Marian’s annual backpacks and school supplies drive for refugee children produced backpacks for 40 school children at a total value of at least $3000. Marian is the only non-staff, permanent member of the Durham Refugee Day planning committee, completely running the communications plan in 2019. Marian is a founding member of Triangle Interfaith Advocates for Refugees and Immigrants (TIARI), an advocacy group dedicated to refugee welcome, which connects literally hundreds of people through Durham’s interfaith community. In 2019. Marian organized and led a group of volunteers to visit with asylum seekers detained at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. Marian also played an integral role in the renewal of a federal grant for our flagship program, by writing CWS a very detailed letter of support for a highly competitive grant process.

Learn more about CWS Durham here.

Upcoming Events

SundaySun, 25 OctOctober, 2020

Jewish Campus Community Blood Drive

Sunday, Oct 25th 12:00p to 5:00pThere is a critical need for blood – now more than ever. That is why Judea Reform is partnering with the Levin JCC so that you can donate life-saving blood. The Blood Connection’s blood mobiles will be stationed outside the J with safe and social distancing protocol. Click here to schedule your blood donation appointment. Walk-ins are always welcome, however, appointments are strongly encouraged and help us to accommodate every donor who wants to donate. As a blood donor, you will not only help your own community with live-saving blood, you will also be helping the global community with life-saving vaccines. For each blood donor screened, The Blood Connection will donate $20 to Vaccine Ambassadors, a NC-based nonprofit that provides vaccines to vulnerable children and families in Latin America and the Caribbean. Twenty dollars can provide an estimated 28 measles/rubella vaccines or 65 diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus vaccines. To date, we have provided over 700,000 vaccines, protecting against 12 different diseases. For more information please email with blood drive in the subject line.


WednesdayWed, 11 NovNovember, 2020


Wednesday, Nov 11th 7:00p to 8:30pSocial Action Committee (SAC) monthly planning meeting for social justice, direct service, education, and advocacy projects. Join JRC members on mitzvah projects and tikkum olam/repairing the world. Contact SAC Chair, Marian Abernathy, for more information.


WednesdayWed, 9 DecDecember, 2020


Wednesday, Dec 9th 7:00p to 8:30pSocial Action Committee (SAC) monthly planning meeting for social justice, direct service, education, and advocacy projects. Join JRC members on mitzvah projects and tikkum olam/repairing the world. Contact SAC Chair, Marian Abernathy, for more information.



Sat, October 24 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781