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Strangers in Our Land

Passover represents the core values Jews believe in: empathy, social justice, fighting for the rights of the marginalized.

We gather at the Seder to remember slavery in Egypt and recall what it was like to wander alone, with no one to come to our aid, without knowing where to turn. The story tells us we were the strangers, and we must never forget what it was like to be strangers in a strange land.

Those of you who attended Padi Selwyn’s CST presentation last year will vividly recall the plight of thousands of refugees stuck at the border. They were living in dangerous, squalid conditions. Many had endured these conditions for 2 years, after traveling thousands of miles from their own countries.

A few weeks ago, some refugees were given permission to enter the US. Ten families from the Matamoros, México refugee camp, where Padi volunteered, are now settling in the Half Moon Bay area and Rohnert Park. More families are being allowed to cross into California and then are being resettled around the country.  These migrants left with so little. They need so much to get settled. They are strangers in our land now.

To get an idea of the people we are helping, watch this quick video clip showing one migrant family's entrance to the US.


You Can Help

Advocate: For tzedek (justice) for immigrants from the border through acts of chesed (loving kindness.)

Donate: We have vetted two agencies and recommend supporting them with your donations.

Bay Area Border Relief: Donate to help support families recently released from the refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico. Tax-deductible contributions to Bay Area Border Relief's efforts can be accepted via Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, EIN# 94-3136771.

Donate by credit card: via Network for Good

Donate by check: ​Make payable to: "Philanthropic Ventures Foundation", Note "BORDER RELIEF" on the memo line. Mail check to: 

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation
1222 Preservation Park Way
Oakland, CA 94612-1201

Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Family Migrant Shelter program: Purchase needed items through their Amazon Wish List.  The Shelter is welcoming hundreds of refugees daily. Families are sheltered in hotels for 7-10 days, receive basic necessities, then are relocated to communities for resettlement.  This project is in partnership with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Donate here:  (Click on SDRRN Migrant Family Shelter in the left-hand corner. Address will show as an option when checking out.)

Let’s remember our history, open our hearts, and welcome the stranger!

This is a project of the Social Action Committee of CST. Thank you in advance for your generosity and for joining us in fighting for the rights of the marginalized and most vulnerable.

Social Action Committee


Transitions: Gratitude, Introduction and Welcome

Bruce Berkowitz and Ellen Van Den Berg have led our Social Action Committee with passion, drive, and commitment for the last six years! They have spent countless hours of their own time working hard to emphasize Tikkun olam and to provide quality, lively, programming for our congregation and the larger community.  Both of them are stepping down at the end of December but will continue as active participants.  We will miss their humor, positivity, and creative energies. We are enormously grateful for their contributions.

Under their leadership you will remember powerful events about criminal justice reform, white supremacy, gun violence, homelessness, single payer health, money bail, fire recovery, and many more.

My name is Judy Kay and I will be trying to fill those 4 big shoes beginning in January 2021 as the new chairperson.  I would love to have your support and would like very much to know what you would like to see our committee pursue.  You can reach me at

Social Action Committee Accomplishments in 2020 – We still did a lot even with a pandemic!

  • January   Organize and Mobilize (with the congregation).
  • February   Bruce Berkowitz and Judy Kay went to Arizona with Swing Left and Indivisible canvassing door to door to register voters.
  • February   Committee members did door to door canvassing with NBOP
  • February    Presented Padi Selwyn, The End of the American Dream? (live event)
  • April -June     Several committee members working with The Religious Action Center of California met with various elected officials individually.  Jim Wood, Mike Maguire, Marc Levine, Cecelia Aguiar-Curry, and Bill Dodd talked with us about specific issues, answered questions, and all welcomed us to come back.
  • June     Sent letters of outrage to various organizations and politicians with regard to the mismanagement of the Covid Crisis at San Quentin.
  • August    We presented Dr. John Mihalik, M.D. on the Climate Crisis
  • July -August     Entire committee worked with Reclaim the Vote and Ner Shalom on postcard, phone banking, and texting campaigns prior to the November election. We made calls to almost everyone in our congregation.
  • September    Forum with Senator Mike Maguire on current topic
  • October    Proposition Forum prior to the November election.
  • December     Winter Clothing Drive for clients of Elisha’s Pantry.


Ongoing and Annual SAC Projects

Elisha’s Pantry

We partner with Christ United Methodist Church and Bethlehem Lutheran Church to distribute food every Thursday afternoon to residents in need from the local area.  The pantry which is at 1717 Yulupa Avenue is open on Thursday afternoons. To volunteer or learn more please contact Lien Cibulka,

Yom Hashoah

Every spring, the Social Action Committee hosts an observance of the Holocaust Day of Remembrance and invites the public to attend. A candle lighting ceremony remembers the six million Jews and others (Gypsy/Roma, LGBT, Righteous Gentiles, political prisoners, the disabled) who were killed by the Nazi regime. SAC also remembers victims of genocides in America, Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur, with candle lighters and speakers.

Rabbi Michael Robinson Memorial Lecture

This annual lecture honors CST’s founding rabbi, Michael Robinson. In honor of his inspirational social activism, we present speakers who share Rabbi Michael’s passion for human rights and social justice. 

Other Projects

Our Social Action Committee presents ongoing film events, forums, and panel discussions highlighting current issues. Past programs have addressed criminal justice reform, homelessness, election concerns, gun violence, money bail, immigration issues, the climate crisis and much more. If there is an issue of specific importance to you, please let our group know.

Social Action Resources

The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, California is a valuable resource with up-to-date analyses of key social justice topics through a Jewish lens. The RAC also has action guides for urgent social issues specifically within our state.

Wed, May 12 2021 1 Sivan 5781