Social Justice (Na’aseh)

“We are commanded to recognize the strangers amongst us.  It is our responsibility to teach them that our Torah does something unprecedented in the annals of human history.  It commands that we empathize through national memory. Over and over the Torah states that the reason that we should care for the stranger is:  

כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ : Because you were strangers in Egypt.” 

– Rabbi Michael S. Siegel

At Anshe Emet, we see tikkun olam as integral to Jewish life. Na’aseh – meaning “we will do” – is the social justice committee that helps our Anshe Emet community engage in social action and volunteer activities. Are you looking for ways to get involved, address hunger and poverty, and support refugees? Join us to volunteer your time as we partner with other organizations in Chicago. Our efforts are non-partisan. Sign up by clicking on one of the links below, or let us know about other ideas you have to engage our community in this important work of social justice.

Together – Naaseh. We will do.

Email us at with questions or suggestions and to subscribe to our newsletter.
Click here to join our Facebook Group.

Jump in! Join us in any of the following opportunities to serve our community’s needs:

Support Refugees Resettling to Chicago: In 2018, Anshe Emet welcomed a refugee family to Chicago, a family of four with two small children. They are Rohingya Muslims who fled persecution in Burma (now known as Myanmar). We sponsored them in partnership with RefugeeOne and provide ongoing tutoring and other assistance. To get involved with this or other refugee supports, send a note to  Here are specific things you can do:

Join the Chicago Jews for Refugees Coalition: Supported by HIAS, the Chicago Jews for Refugees Coalition convenes the Jewish community to act in support of refugees and asylum seekers by 1) engaging in learning and dialogue; 2) connecting to volunteer opportunities; and 3) advocating for policies. Contact Samantha DeKoven for more information.

Tutor Students in English and Math at Clinton Elementary School: DeWitt Clinton Elementary in West Rogers Park is looking for a few volunteers to tutor refugee and immigrant students in math and literacy. This is the school our sponsored family’s child attends. This volunteer opportunity is one hour per week during the school day (8:30 am-3:30 pm). To volunteer or for more information, please contact Melissa Sterne at

Mentor or Tutor a Refugee One Family: Refugee One can use volunteers to assist families who arrive without a co-sponsor. Please complete Refugee One’s volunteer form and indicate that you are from Anshe Emet. Contact Samantha DeKoven at with questions.

Donate: Anshe Emet has a special fund dedicated to refugee assistance. Contributions to the Anshe Emet Refugee Resettlement Fund go toward supporting refugees and other vulnerable immigrants whom Anshe Emet has supported in resettling to Chicago. As these families often lack essential needs, your donation will make an impact in welcoming them to Chicago and helping them build their new life. The fund is listed on the Anshe Emet donation page.

For more ways to help refugees and asylum seekers, visit HIAS’s Take Action for Refugees web page here.

Go Green: Team Yarok is Anshe Emet’s green initiative. Here are a few of the things we’re working on:

    • A composting system
    • Energy audits to help with our conservation efforts
    • Community education and awareness – how each of us can serve as custodians of the world, in our homes and in our synagogue

For more information or to get involved, please contact Isaac Elnecave.

Lakeview Pantry: One of Chicago’s largest and longest-operating food pantries. Anshe Emet provides volunteers on the last Monday (10am to 2pm) and Wednesday (1pm to 5pm) of each month. Volunteers are always needed for shelf stocking and food distribution at the Pantry, 3945 N. Sheridan Rd. To sign up and volunteer, please contact Mimi Landau.

Serve Youth Needs: Anshe Emet volunteers work with the Night Ministry every other month to provide a meal to the clients of the Youth Outreach Team.  There are opportunities to feed youth who are homeless by baking, cooking, and serving food on the street at Halsted and Belmont.  We also collect hygiene products and new warm winter gear for the Night Ministry. Please contact Janine Landow-Esser at to participate.

Fight Hunger with JUF Uptown Cafe: Join Anshe Emet volunteers occasional evenings as we serve dinner to food-insecure Chicagoans at the JUF Uptown Cafe (at the EZRA Multi-service Center). Volunteers must be 16 or above (or 12 or above with a chaperone). This is a great bar and bat mitzvah project! Contact Emily Feder at to sign up with the Anshe Emet group, or click here to sign up directly with JUF Uptown Cafe.

Teens: Tutor Elementary Students: Youth. Online. Unified. Tutor students of Bright Star Community Outreach in grades 2-5 through a weekly 30-minute Google Meet session on Wednesdays between 4pm-6pm. Bright Star families greatly value the tutoring and one-on-one attention. Anshe Emet students in grades 6-12 are invited to sign up for tutoring (and earn service hours). A few social gatherings enable the students to get to know each other in person. Contact Ruth Rau to sign up.

Prepare Taxes for Low-Income Families: Ladder Up needs volunteers to work one-on-one with low-income families to help prepare tax returns and receive refunds. This volunteer activity takes place during tax season through April. Members of the Anshe Emet community have helped prepare thousands of tax returns, helping families receive tax refunds and access other financial coaching offered by Ladder Up. Training will be held in mid-November. Contact Jonathan Zimbler with questions.

Advocate to Solve Systemic Issues: Anshe Emet is an organizational member of ONE Northside and a synagogue partner of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. Through both organizations, we have joined with other community groups to organize around local issues. Past advocacy efforts have included voter registration drives and small group meetings around particular issues such as mental health justice, clean energy, and welcoming refugees. Contact Michellanne Li at  for more information.

Mercaz Nediv Lev Giving Center: We support partner organizations doing important work in our community by collecting some of their most needed items in collection bins located opposite the Sisterhood Gift Shop outside the Sanctuary. Recipient organizations rotate monthly. If you would like to suggest an organization to benefit from the Mercaz Nediv Lev Giving Center, please contact Zach Seeskin.

One-Time Volunteer Opportunities: Looking for other volunteer opportunities? Click here for JUF’s TOV – calendar with volunteer opportunities throughout the city and suburbs for volunteers of all ages. Sign up for one project at a time.

Na’aseh Leadership

Samantha DeKoven, President
Zach Seeskin, Giving Center Liaison
Molly Sender, Giving Center Liaison
Michellanne Li, Advocacy Chair
Brett Klugman
Adam Engle
Mimi Landau, Lakeview Pantry Liaison
Emily Feder, Uptown Cafe Liaison
Jodi Gruber, Maot Chitim Coordinator
Ruth Rau, YOU Tutoring Coordinator
Janine Landow-Esser, Night Ministry Coordinator
Isaac Elnecave, Team Yarok Liaison
Rabbi David Russo, Rabbinic Liaison
Mimi Weisberg, Staff Liaison