There is a well-known verse found in the Book of Deuteronomy that has been on my mind a great deal this week. Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof - Justice, Justice shall you pursue. I am sure that we can all recall times we heard this verse taught in a classroom, spoken from the bimah or emphasized in an article or essay. In so many ways, it is the foundation of the Jewish call for Social Justice and Social Action. It is our mandate as a people to not only discover examples in our world of people who need assistance but also a calling for us to act - to do something, to help people in need and seek ways to bring more justice and equality and fairness and hope to people around us. You may find it noteworthy that this is one of the few verses in the entire Torah that repeat a word. In a text that sees every word as extremely valuable and full of meaning, the text is making a strong point by repeating the word Tzedek - accurately translated as righteousness - making things right for everyone.
We are not the only religion who see Social Action and Social Justice as part of our DNA. For centuries we have worked in concert with others to help the world see the importance of these issues and so many of our great Rabbinic sources have been dedicated to this mandate. That is one of the reasons I invited our Scholar in Residence to join us this Shabbat - to help us learn more about the Jewish imperative for Social Action and Social Justice and to inspire us to do more as both individuals and as a sacred community. I am thrilled that Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is joining us this Shabbat for the Ellen M. Egger Shabbaton so that he can help us deepen our connection to this mandate. Through the course of the Shabbaton, we will have the opportunity to study with Rabbi Yanklowitz and to explore some powerful Rabbinic texts on these subjects.
Everyone is invited to be with us for any of the following study sessions:
Tonight at 8:30 PM -
Changing the World from the Inside Out
Shabbat morning during services - Sacred Attunement: How to See the Invisible Right Before our Very Eyes.
Shabbat afternoon after Lunch -
Judaism as a Call to Social Action: Developing our Unique Moral Voice
On Sunday, Rabbi Yanklowitz will conduct a special session for all of our teens at 11:00 am on Ethical Consumption: Consideration for the 21st
As you can see, it will be an important weekend for us to learn together and inspire each other to do more Social Action. I also know that we will have more follow up to do after the weekend so that we continue to do this important work as both individuals and as a community.
I remember years ago, we had a Board Committee that was called Social Concerns. I also remember when the suggestion was made to change the name to Social Action. I supported that decision because when it comes to issues of Social Justice, we need more action - just being concerned is not enough. We need to do. I am proud of the Social Justice work we do as a congregation and I am looking forward to doing more. I hope you will be part of TJC Mitzvah Day on Sunday May 5 as well as part of our ongoing conversations about this important work.
Please join us as we welcome Rabbi Yanklowitz back to TJC and learn from his expertise and passion for Social Justice so that we can continue to improve our world as much as we can.
Rabbi Adam Feldman