Synagogues across America are engaging in congregation-based community organizing, CBCO. They want to build a deeper sense of community within their congregations; they want to create more socially just communities in their neighborhoods; and they want to form closer working relationships with people of all faiths.
Temple Sinai joined the movement in the fall of 2007. We have affiliated with the 40 congregation-strong Oakland Community Organizations, OCO, in existence since 1979. OCO is one of 53 US affiliates of the national organization, People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).
Synagogue leaders completed the first phase of organizing on June 30, 2009, following a year of one-on-one conversations with congregants. One-on-one conversations constitute the heart of organizing: first engage with congregants, then, bring the congregation's "voice" into the greater community. We asked congregants their most important social concern in Oakland. The majority answered education and crime prevention.
We are now in a process of developing our next steps. Over the next few months, we will frame congregant's concerns into a single, well-defined issue. Our long-term goal is to bring our issue into an action – gathering as a group before public officials asking for a specific social change. We are aware that doing so is challenging. We invite our congregants to join us in defining our effort and to assist us in research and action. We invite you to contact William Shelton.