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Helpline: Social Action Q&A

Q: Are congregations permitted to take positions on up­coming state ballot initiatives?

A: Although nonprofit organizations are limited in the amount of lobbying they can do, organizing for justice, joining coalitions, and taking positions on issues of concern—including state ballot initiatives—are all permissible. Congregations cannot take a position on candidates for public office or seek to influence an election; they can, however, provide nonpartisan educational and informational programs, candidates forums, and “Get Out the Vote” activities. To learn more, read Speak Truth to Power and more at

Q: I am a new social action chair. Where do I start?

A: For program ideas and advo­cacy assistance, visit two online guides: K’hilat Tzedek: Creating a Community of Justice and Speak Truth to Power ( For social action programming tools, click on the links (“Take Action,” “Program Bank,” “Resources,” etc.) at the Commission on Social Action site ( and the “Congregational Tools” button on the Religious Action Center website ( for “Social Action Chair’s Resources,” “Mitzvah Day Manual,” and more. The Social Action Calendar ( can help you plan the coming year’s program. We also recommend Lirdof Tzedek: A Guide to Synagogue Social Action (, available from the URJ Press.


Union for Reform Judaism.