Volunteering at Emanu-El

Community Service, Tikkun Olam and Social Action

We are a community committed to tikkun olam and making a positive impact in the lives of others in our congregation, New York City and beyond. Discover the many ways you can put your Jewish values into action and make a difference: provide support to fellow congregants during times of crisis or loss; feed and clothe people struggling with homelessness; engage in political activism; join the fight against antisemitism or help refugees from Ukraine or asylum seekers here in New York. Additionally, there are opportunities to volunteer for the temple as a Shabbat greeter at Friday night services or as a reader for the Daily Sunset Service.

Get Involved

Sunday Lunch Program

Congregation Emanu-El has been preparing meals for those in need, whether they are experiencing homelessness, underemployed or food insecure, since 1982.

The time commitment for the Sunday Lunch Program is minimal… just two hours from 10:00 AM to noon every Sunday. We particularly need volunteers on holiday weekends and during the summer.

To inquire about volunteering, email the Sunday Lunch Program at .

Mitzvah Day

Tikkun Olam has held an annual Fall Mitzvah Day since 2005 and added a Spring Mitzvah Day in 2023. Volunteers come together to offer help and support to our neighbors while creating community among our members. We look forward to being together again, as we assemble packages that contain essential items for the most vulnerable populations in New York City.

Read about our first Spring Mitzvah Day in 2022.

Temple members interested in volunteering can email the Tikkun Olam Committee at  to register.

Project Prom

Temple Emanu-El helps hundreds New York City high school seniors from low-income homes shine at their spring proms with a “boutique” shopping experience providing these young women with free prom ensembles. Read about Project Prom in Jewish Week.

Volunteers are needed for 2024 Project Prom:

Setup: Tuesday, April 16, starting at 10:00 AM
Dress selection: Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 18
Shifts for dress selection will take place at the following times:
10:00 – 11:30 AM
12:00 – 1:30 PM
2:00 – 3:30 PM
4:00 – 5:30 PM
Breakdown: Friday, April 19, starting at 10:00 AM

Temple members interested in volunteering can email the Tikkun Olam Committee at  to register. Please provide your name, phone number and email address, as well as the days and times you are available to help.

Thanksgiving Dinner for Seniors

Every year Temple Emanu-El hots an Annual Thanksgiving dinner for 125 older adults from senior centers, as well as women and families from local homeless and domestic violence shelters. The dinner is made possible by a generous sponsorship from Dr. Barbara Ritchin.

NY1: Temple Emanu-El Holds Thanksgiving Dinner for the Community

Second Seder and Homebound Delivery

Second Seder for the Elderly is one of the longest running community-service programs offered by Temple Emanu-El. It is staffed by dedicated congregants who volunteer their time to help make this evening possible. Prior to Passover, temple members also volunteer to pack bags filled with Passover foods for delivery to homebound seniors.

Each year on the second night of Passover, Temple Emanu-El holds its annual community seder for 250 elderly Jews in need of assistance. Our guests come from senior centers and are provided transportation from all areas of the city to come to this event. By organizing this community seder, the temple seeks to enable those who no longer have families or whose families are far away to share the prayers and fellowship of this significant Jewish holiday.

Stitch’n Time

Stitch’n Time is a knitting group for temple members who would like to knit or crochet items for various organizations.

Stitch’n Time participants knit warm scarves and caps for clients of Temple Emanu-El’s Sunday Lunch Program, as well as knitted goods for children and other adults in need. Both experienced and novice knitters are invited to join us. However, participation is limited to members of the congregation. Instruction is available for those who need assistance. Yarn and patterns are provided, but you must bring your own needles (#8).

If you have questions or would like to join us, please send an email to .

Shabbat Greeter

The role of Emanu-El’s greeters is to greet congregants and guests, answer their questions and maintain the solemnity of the service. Greeters accomplish this by welcoming worshipers, helping them find their place in the prayer book, and by directing those unfamiliar with the temple building to seats, restrooms, exits and other necessary locations. Greeters are expected to dress in a dignified and unobtrusive manner and to maintain decorum in our sanctuaries with the help of temple employees. Greeters are provided with a manual containing basic information about their duties.

Being a greeter at Temple Emanu-El is an important position. We welcome the interest of members who would like to join this longstanding group of dedicated volunteers who enhance the worship experience for members and visitors alike.

If you are a temple member interested in volunteering as a greeter at Friday Evening Shabbat Services, please email .

Learn more about being a Shabbat Greeter.

Daily Sunset Service Readers Panel

The Sunset Service began in 1945 when members of the Men’s Club committed themselves to lead worship on all days except those of Shabbat, holidays and festivals. Since then, volunteers have sustained our Sunset Service with remarkable fidelity and devotion.

Today, the Readers Panel includes women and men from throughout the congregation and, since the pandemic, the Daily Sunset Service is entirely online Sunday to Thursday at 5:30 PM. We invite you to join us via livestream at Experience Emanu-El, Facebook and YouTube.

While the panel remains under the auspices of the Men’s Club, participation is open to all members — including teenagers who have completed their b’nei mitzvah studies.

Volunteer congregants are needed to continue this magnificent tradition. Each reader leads the service about once a month. Readers acknowledge readily that leading the service — and thereby enabling others to worship — is a deeply fulfilling experience.

If you are a temple member and are interested in becoming a reader, then send an email to , or call 212-744-1400, ext. 251.