In 1996 the number of homeless persons in Las Vegas was estimated to be over 18,000. Las Vegas had already established facilities to individually house males or females for one night stay, but the need for space in which families could remain together was great and continued to grow. The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Las Vegas unites faith communities to assist the homeless by providing emergency shelter, meals, and comprehensive assistance to homeless families in finding housing, jobs, and job training. Thirty-two Christian denominational organizations participate in the program. In 1996, Congregation Ner Tamid joined them.
Families are housed at Congregation Ner Tamid for one week, four times a year. Each week 50 volunteers are needed to work with the families. Over a hundred congregants volunteer. Many others volunteer by donating food or linens. Each day it is necessary to have six volunteers: 2 organizers, 2 people to actually sleep over, and 2 to serve dinner. All meals are provided by congregants. Each family comes to the Temple at 4:00 p.m.; they are given a hot dinner and a bed for the night. In the morning the families are awakened, fed breakfast and given a lunch. A van from the hospitality network takes the families to a day house where they receive assistance finding employment, housing or work to resolve other life problems. They return to the Temple each evening during the week .
Congregation Ner Tamid can accommodate up to twelve families depending on the number of children in each. At this time, it houses an average of 8 to 10 families. Each family is given their own room, which allows for as much privacy as possible. There is a television provided in the multi-purpose room and food to snack on. Parents are responsible for their children's discipline, and all families are expected to be in their rooms by 11:00 p.m.. All families are treated with the same kindness and respect one would expect for their own family. For most of the families, this is their first experience with anyone who is Jewish.
For the families, the members of the Congregation who volunteer have now become people with whom they have experienced perhaps joy, kindness and support during their time of need. In turn congregants who participate in the program have an experience of living Jewishly, which often broadens their own perspective.
Congregation Ner Tamid is also to be commended for its special needs educational program, in which students with physical, emotional or mental deficits are offered a Jewish education without financial burden, largely through teen mentoring.