Civil Rights Service Trip

Sinai's community service and civil rights trips bring members together to rebuild homes devastated by natural disasters.  Through service, learning, worship, and fun this initiative creates meaningful and lasting impacts on communities we partner with, and permanent bonds of friendship among our volunteers and members.  Since 2008, Sinai members have made deep and lasting connections to survivors in New Orleans, LA;  Birmingham, Alabama;  Charleston , SC and Union Beach, NJ. The projects we undertake do not require special skills as there is work for all ages from 12 and up. In the evenings, we have fun eating great southern cooking and taking in the local culture.

Upcoming Trip:  April 12 - 15, 2018 | Rebuilding near Houston after Hurricane Harvey

Celebrating our 10th year of service, this year Sinai is headed to Houston, TX, to rebuild low income communities still in need of volunteers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The projects we undertake do not require special skills and there is work for all ages 12 and up. 

This trip will focus on race and environmental civil rights issues, and we will meet and hear from leaders and activists working to address these inequities. In the evenings, we will have fun eating local fare, bowling, listen to music and dancing, and we will have meaningful and unique worship opportunities.

Our tentative itinerary is to begin work the morning of April 12 and to continue working in the community all day Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13. We will go to Friday night Shabbat services, and then will enjoy an evening of fun. On Saturday, April 14 we will work a half-day and then tour slave and civil rights monuments and hear from speakers engaged in social justice work in and around Houston. On Sunday, April 15 we will visit the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, located in Freedman’s Town, the first African American Baptist Church founded by former slaves. 

For more information contact Jill Peters at

About Houston and Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was one of the worst disasters in US History with 90 deaths mostly from drowning, and 30,000 people displaced by prolonged flooding after 40 inches of rain fell over 4 days. The cost of the damage is estimated to be nearly $200 billion. 

Houston is an interesting example of racial, environmental and socio-economic injustice as the reckless lack of zoning and planning as well as the long-lasting effects of Jim Crow laws, have left low income and communities of color, in floodplains, or industrial neighborhoods that experienced greater flooding and damage than wealthier and white communities in Houston. Additionally, important wetlands have been paved over or developed since 2010, leaving nowhere for flood waters to go. Over 210,000 flood claims were filed with FEMA, many neighborhoods in poor communities had as much as 9’ of water, which meant that homeowners lost everything. Many are still in hotels or completely displaced in temporary living arrangements, and are in need of volunteers to help rebuild their homes and communities, and there is only limited financial assistance from FEMA.

Our Most Recent Trip:  April 6 - 9, 2017 | Rebuilding near Charleston, SC after Hurricane Matthew

In spring of 2017, Chicago Sinai's service trip for the first time traveled to Charleston, SC, to rebuild communities that were damaged by Hurricane Matthew on October 6, 2016. Many towns in the low county of South Carolina were damaged from floods and high winds, and are in need of volunteers to remove debris and begin the rebuilding process.

We immersed ourselves in learning about slave and civil rights history in Charleston, with educational tours of the Old Slave Mart and McLeod Plantation. We took civil rights tours of the area and visited one of the first Reform Jewish Temples In America, Congregation Kahal Kodesh, Beth Elohim (KKBE), where we attended Friday night services.

Please contact jillpeters/at/ for trip details, scholarships, and to register for the trip.

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