Committee Overview


Annual/Special Initiatives

Ongoing Initiatives & Sub-Committees

Tikkun Olam Committee

The Tikkun Olam Committee welcomes new and returning members. Our work is to contribute to social justice efforts locally and beyond. Read the regular JCA Tikkun Olam emails to learn more about current initiatives, activities, opportunities and actions. Reach out to co-chairs, Judith Souweine ( or Amy Rothenberg ( with any questions or if you would like to join our efforts. We meet the third Thursday of each month, and Zoom attendance will remain an option.


The principles are part of the JCA Bylaws and inform and guide our efforts:

  • Oseh Shalom (Making Peace) – cultivating deep and respectful listening across social and idealogical divides
  • V’ger lo tilkhats (Do not Oppress the Stranger) – responding to manifestations of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, etc.
  • B’tselem elohim (In the Image of God) – responding to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Shivvon (Egalitarianism) – advocating for women’s issues
  • Ladonay ha’aretz um’lo’o (The Earth is the Lord’s) – focusing on environmental issues
  • Ahavat Yisrael (Love of Israel) – focusing on issues related to Israel and global Jewry
  • Tzedek tzedek tirdof (Pursuing Justice) – focusing on poverty and related issues
  • B’riyut (Wellness) – focusing on issues related to healthcare access
  • Shalom bayit (Peace in the Home) – focusing on issues related to immigrants in our midst

Annual and Special Events

Watch for announcements for these events, open to all JCA members and families.
Source to Sea Cleanup

In September, a team from the JCA joins thousands of volunteers along the Connecticut River for the annual Source to Sea Cleanup organized by the Connecticut River Conservancy.

Northampton Pride March

Each May, a JCA group joins the Pride March held in Northampton to celebrate LGBTQIA rights.

Mitzvah Day

Every year in May, the entire JCA community joins with Kesher, the JCA education program, for a morning of mitzvot. We have worked on many projects over the years including: tidying up the synagogue; preparing the garden; cleaning around the JCA cemetery; singing at local nursing homes; participating in trail maintenance at Mt. Warner or at a local Trustees of Reservation property; preparing food for those who are ill or for families welcoming a new baby; making challah for Shabbat; creating handmade cards for community members who have experienced a loss; and much more.

Human Rights Shabbat

The JCA joins with congregations across the nation to celebrate an annual Human Rights Shabbat. We invite a speaker to give a D’var Torah (sermon) on a human rights issue and organize a related congregation-wide action.


The Tikkun Olam Committee is given a small budget to support its work. The Tikkun Olam Committee also accepts donations from JCA members to honor or in memory of a loved one. Once a year, as a committee, we donate these funds. We strive to find organizations consistent with our values within our own community, as well as national and international organizations and other causes we decide upon as a committee.

In 2020 our donations went to: 400 Year Project; Real Cost of Prisons; Mothers Out Front; Jewish Family Service; Treehouse Foundation; Resource Center Matamoros; Equal Justice Initiative; and the Black Voters Matter Fund.

Civil Rights Trip

In October, 2022, a group of 28 people, mostly JCA members, traveled to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee on a Civil Rights journey to understand the history of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and the current status of racism in our country. This powerful experience has led the group to explore ways to continue our commitment to addressing the critical issues of racism, mass incarceration, poverty and division. Judith Souweine ( and Devorah Jacobson ( led the effort.

Repro Shabbat

One Shabbat each year, the JCA joins congregations across the country in celebrating the National Council of Jewish Women’s “Repro Shabbat”, affirming our Jewish commitment to reproductive rights, particularly at this time when they are so threatened. 

Ongoing Initiatives and Sub-Committees

We can always use more volunteers for our ongoing initiatives. Don't hesitate to reach out and join us.
Food Drive

We collect food for the Amherst Survival Center throughout the year and especially at the High Holidays. Contact Harry Hahn ( if you would like to be more involved.

Not Bread Alone

Volunteers from the JCA staff the Not Bread Alone lunch one Sunday a month at the First Congregational Church in Amherst. Contact Hollie Kalkstein ( for more information on becoming a regular member of the cooking or cleaning shifts or becoming a sub.

Craig's Doors

Over the years we have supported our local shelter by volunteering and raising money and awareness. The pandemic has curtailed our involvement beyond collections of requested items but we look forward to being more involved. If you are interested in leading or participating in this important local issue please reach out to Judith Souweine ( or Amy Rothenberg (

Immigrant Justice

We work in conjunction with Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice of Western MA. We focus on justice for asylum seekers on the US southern border and for those held in ICE detention in MA and beyond. We participate in additional local and national coalitions for immigration justice. We sponsor educational events, legislative advocacy, exhibits and actions. We worked to support a non-citizen member of our community who sought sanctuary in a local church for over 3 years. Contact Karen Levine ( or Joan Epstien ( for further information or to join in our efforts.

Love in a Backpack

Women released from the Chicopee house of corrections generally leave with little to no resources. The Tikkun Olam committee adopted a project started by St. John’s Episcipal Church in Ashfield which fills backpacks with many needed items to start life on the outside. We filled 10 backpacks with generously donated funds from JCA members in 2022. We currently have funds to fill 5 more. Mary D’Allesandro, the person who gives out the backpacks, says “The women often have tears in their eyes when receiving these backpacks, saying this is like Christmas.” We also write a personal note of encouragement for each backpack, which according to Mary is appreciated as much as the contents!

Racial Justice Tzedek: A Racial Justice Initiative

In 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd and other events across the country, a grassroots effort of concerned JCA members formed Tzedek: A Racial Justice Initiative, which functions as a subgroup of the Tikkun Olam Committee. Tzedek has several sub-committees to address systemic racism and white supremacy along with understanding criminal justice reform as each is manifest in the Pioneer Valley, in Massachusetts, and across the country. 

Vetting Group


Mission: The mission of the committee is to choose social justice related programs to support that will benefit people of color.

Our Approach: We have met on average once or twice per quarter to ensure organizations chosen to support are thoroughly vetted for both effectiveness and efficiency. We review organization mission and transparency as well as its accountability. Most organizations have 501 C3 nonprofit status with publicly available information. We interview appropriate people at organizations to ensure our support will translate into effective action and will help individuals or communities in need. We include both local organizations and those further afield. Our goal is to sponsor a new organization and topic approximately once a quarter. Through JCA email list, we send out two calls for donations during that period so members can trust this monetary call to action as part of our work to undo the impact of racism in our society and to promote social and economic justice for people of color. To date we have focused on housing and food insecurity, criminal justice, education, and voting rights. The members of the JCA have been generous in donating to the organizations. If anyone is interested in joining our committee, new members are enthusiastically welcome with open arms. Contact chair, Lisa Kirschenbaum ( for more information.

Book Group

The Tzedek Book Group meets every six weeks to discuss fiction and non-fiction books related to race and social justice. Among the books we have read are: Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning; Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. We always welcome new members. Reach out to Aaron Berman ( for further information.

Reparations Sub-Committee

The JCA Reparations Committee was formed after the murder of George Floyd in May, 2020. The initial focus of the committee was self-education on the topic of reparations for African Americans. After months of study and internal dialogue, the committee created the Stolen Beam educational series on Reparations, a 5-session course that has been facilitated both locally and nationally. Locally, the Stolen Beam has been facilitated at the JCA and CBI in Northampton, the United Church of Christ in Longmeadow, the Pelham Library and the Jones Library in Amherst, as well as the League of Women Voters-Amherst. It has also been used by the Interfaith Opportunities Network (ION) to promote reparations education.

The Stolen Beam has become one of the main reparation resources on the Reconstructing Judaism website, and synagogues in Evanston, IL., Charlotte, NC. and Cotati, CA. have used it. It was also placed on the “Innovative Garden” website of the Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood. Our Reparations Committee collaborates with The African Heritage Reparations Assembly of Amherst (AHRA) and other community organizations, both local and state-wide, that support reparations as one means toward reparative justice. If interested in the Reparations Committee or the Stolen Beam, please contact co-chairs Devorah Jacobson ( or Jeff Gold (

We welcome new members to the committee.
You can find a link to the Stolen Beam Manual here.

Refugee Resettlement

From Acting Chair of this Ad Hoc Group, Yael Rosenbloom:
In December 2022, our community answered a call from Jewish Family Service to help their organization resettle hundreds of Afghan evacuees arriving in Western Massachusetts. People in the JCA community and beyond stepped up to lead and/or co-lead one of the core resettlement pathways: housing, education, community connectors, health, technology, and employment. Dozens in the community volunteered in other ways. Together we worked to find the family affordable housing, furnish their home, arrange medical care and SNAP, provide transportation to doctor appointments, register the children for school, find the father a job, enroll the children in summer camps, introduce them to other Afghans in the area, assist in attending IED and other cultural celebrations of theirs and so much more.

It was often messy and challenging, filled with communication breakdowns. A year later, however, their English continues to improve and communication is significantly easier. The Momand family has become a part of our community. Camp Shemesh is a sanctuary for the kids. They now see Amherst as their home and are on their path to citizenship! They are also working to bring their parents here. We made a difference in their lives and they have made a difference in ours. This project took a village. It expanded our hearts and minds. The JCA community has stepped into what Rabbi Nachman of Breslov requests, “Let the good in me connect with the good in others until the world is transformed through the compelling power of love”.

If you are interested in being part of further resettlement efforts, please be in touch with either Tikkun Olam Chairs, Judith Souweine ( or Amy Rothenberg (

Reproductive Rights Sub-Committee

In response to the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe vs. Wade, the JCA Tikkun Olam Committee formed a Sub-Committee on Reproductive Rights in order to amplify the work being done across the state and country to support access to health care and reproductive rights. In the winter of 2023, we joined with a national Reproductive Rights Shabbat. Nikki Fonsh and Deborah Neubauer stepped up to chair this committee. If you are interested in becoming involved, please reach out to current chair, Nikki Fonsh at