Homeless Shelter

A House of Worship is Also a Home

The BHS Shelter is now open for the 2017-18 season. We opened on Monday, November 27 and will run through the end of May, 2018. You can sign up now to stay overnight or cook by clicking the box below. If you want to volunteer to stay overnight or cook at other CAMBA Respite Bed sites, please contact joshuaF@CAMBA.org. He will have a list of volunteer opportunities.


Located on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, 131 Remsen Street, between Henry and Clinton Streets, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue Homeless Shelter provides a warm, safe place to sleep, along with a hot meal, for ten men.  The Shelter is an entirely volunteer effort, coordinated by BHS congregants and supported by members and non-members alike, including other synagogues, schools and community groups.

Guests are brought to the Shelter by bus from a drop-in center operated by CAMBA, the largest social service agency in Brooklyn.  All Shelter guests are screened by CAMBA since we are not expected to host men with emotional or physical challenges. The only thing all our guests have in common is that they are homeless men.  They are otherwise a diverse group in terms of age, background and circumstances.  Some men will spend the night in our Shelter having been at work all day.  If our beds, food and hospitality were not available, many would have nowhere else to sleep. Click here for more information about our guests.

We provide an evening meal each night.  The hospitality and opportunity to dine in a small group setting are at least as important as the food we serve.  The men are offered a hot breakfast when they return to the drop-in center in the morning.

Volunteer Opportunities at the Shelter

Overnight Stay:  Two adults spend the night at the Shelter.  Two people may sign up together or an individual will be paired with another volunteer.  Volunteers arrive at 7:00 pm and are met by an Evening Coordinator who shows them the ropes. They set up and serve dinner. The next morning they get up early, and are free to leave by 6:00 am. A child over the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah is considered an adult and may spend the night with a parent, or an adult approved by the child’s parents. Children under the age of 13 may cook or spend the night with two adults. Click here to view Guidelines for Overnight Volunteers.

Cooking:  Volunteer cooks may prepare a meal at home and deliver it to the Shelter kitchen by 7:00 p.m. with a description of the meal and instructions for serving/heating.  Alternatively, the meal may be prepared on site or ordered for delivery. Some Overnight Volunteers choose to cook as well. Cooking is also an excellent way to involve children as Shelter volunteers.  Click here to view Guidelines for Cooking.

Click here to read Jennifer Powers’ Yom Kippur Speech!

Learn more about homelessness:
Who are the homeless?
How many homeless in NYC? 
Where do the guests sleep when our shelter is closed?
Who are our guests? Some suggestions for conversing with them

Check out BHS in the News on our News and Events Page

How to Volunteer

If you want more information about our shelter, need help using the sign-up calendar, would like to volunteer in other ways, please contact shelter@bhsbrooklyn.org.

Thank you!

Shelter Accomplishments:

BHS earned the Golden Gumby award from CAMBA for being so flexible in switching from a women’s shelter to a men’s shelter at CAMBA’s 4th annual volunteer recognition dinner in 2013. We also were honored for providing 135 nights of warm food and safe rest to 566 women and men in the 2012-2013 year. And we were the ONLY synagogue among the respite care providers!