Social Action

Social Action

NSS Beth El’s Social Action Committee helps individuals and families work together to perform meaningful mitzvot that benefit both our Jewish Community and the larger community around us.  We believe that congregants of all ages grow from the experience of volunteering and giving through programs that emphasize the core values of tikkun olam.

We host many on-going and special mitzvah programs throughout the year, so we’re sure you will find a project and cause that speaks to you and your values.  Are we missing something, or do you have a project idea you think others would also love? We want to take your strengths and put them to work!  Contact us with your ideas.

Looking for ways to help ALL year?

See below for our list of ongoing projects, including Take A Bite Out of Hunger and JUF Uptown Café.

Stay Connected

Social Action Opportunities 2020-2021

Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project

For the past 20 years, Beth El has participated in a program called the  “Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project” in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Through a partnership with a local school in Waukegan Illiniois, that identifies families in need of food support. Beth El then requests that congregants sign up to purchase and pack a basket of items that are taken up to the school and distributed. Over the years the project has grown, and now provides hundreds of baskets per year.

This year, due to the pandemic, we have changed the program slightly, and have given options for participation. They include making a basket at Beth El, dropping off basket contents to be packed by others, and making donations. This event will take place on Sunday, November 22, 2020.

Here is the shopping list for the basket.

ARK Food Drive – Currently Happening! 

When you fill a grocery bag with food for The ARK, you are directly providing nourishment for our friends and neighbors facing adversity. Bags (with shopping lists printed on them) will be available in the synagogue to fill with kosher food items and toiletries. We ask that you return the filled bags and put them in the ARK POD that will be in the NSSBE parking lot during the dates listed above. The donated items will be delivered to The ARK and then distributed to approximately 1,500 individuals every month.

Maot Chitim

Since 1908, the Maot Chitim of Greater Chicago has enabled thousands of Jewish needy people to experience the Rosh Hashanah and Passover holidays in a traditional and dignified manner. Volunteer to help pack food items or deliver them for those in need in our community.
Go to the Maot Chitim website for locations and to sign-up at

Take a Bite Out of Hunger

Help us provide daily breakfasts for children in need at Highland Park Elementary Schools for the 2020 calendar year. Please drop off your donations in the collection bins by the main office doors and the Religious School Doors. Our goal is to distribute 100 of these items every week for the entire school year!

  • Kellogg’s brand (only) Nutrigrain Fruit Bars
  • Fruit squeezer type snacks (any brand is fine)

JUF Uptown Café – A great project for families with teens!

  • Volunteer at the JUF Uptown Cafe, 909 W. Wilson, Chicago IL.
  • Serve Brunch or Dinner to neighborhood needy – Ages 12+
  • Contact Rocky Rubinoff to sign up at

Family to Family Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project 
Every year, the Social Action Committee creates and distributes Thanksgiving baskets to needy families at the Glenwood School in Waukegan with the help of more than 100 Beth El families. This tremendous community effort reflects Beth El’s on-going commitment to social action and  tikkun olam, “repairing the world” through acts of kindness.    
To download the shopping list, click here.


Coat Drive
Bins go up around Beth El in November and members bring in their gentled-worn outerwear, gloves, hats, boots etc. The items are then sorted by gender/size and delivered to the Chicago Chesed Fund and Highland Park Community Nursery School.



Mitzvah Day
Mitzvah Day is an opportunity for Beth El members to spend a Sunday morning hearing from meaningful presenters about social action projects in the community. Afterwards, congregants choose from a variety of hands-on projects they can participate in, some at Beth El and others where they go out into the community such as a nursing home with their pets, help sort food at Northern Illinois Food Bank, etc.