Every year around this time I begin to look forward to the holiday season here in America: spending Thanksgiving with my family, the familiar sounds of ubiquitous holiday tunes on the radio, the crispness in the air after the fresh snow. As I reflect on recent news, social trends, and the thought of admired leaders in justice and Judaism, the spirit and reality of consumerism gives me pause. Perhaps this feeling of ownership the holiday season brings out in us is not the ideal we, as religious people and thinkers, should strive for.
In religious Jewish communities, the affordability of day schools is one of the most discussed social challenges. Supporting vibrant, successful, viable Jewish day schools is no less than supporting the Jewish future – our children are our future, and the values we demonstrate and pass on will determine what they will do with the torch when they are its bearers.
"Tav HaYosher (the ethical seal for kosher restaurants) issued by Uri L’Tzedek has expanded rapidly. We just celebrated awarding the Tav to our 100th restaurant. There has been widespread support across the spectrum of the Jewish community for this seal certifying nothing more or less than the adherence to American labor laws around minimum wages, overtime, breaks and abuse. Kosher restaurant owners with the Tav have shared that they have earned thousands of dollars more through increased business.
Today and tomorrow (June 18 and 19), I am fasting as an individual in solidarity with tens of thousands of American individuals in solitary confinement. I am also fasting in solidarity with hundreds of faith leaders across the country calling for an end of solitary confinement.
Is there anything that we will not put a heksher on? Has pleasure become the guiding religious principle? Many pockets of the American Orthodox community have become so consumed with Jewish law that values have been dismissed.
I have been full of curiosity since we arrived in Cape Town two weeks ago as scholar-in-residence. What would an Orthodox Social Justice movement look like in post-apartheid South Africa? What unique opportunities does the Jewish community have in 2012 to address the racial and economic dynamics that still plague the region?
Similar to the Civil Rights movement, Jews were overrepresented in the struggle against apartheid. Many distinguished themselves in the struggle against apartheid, including:
This week I was honored to deliver the Cape Town, South Africa, community-wide keynote address for Yom Yerushalayim. Hundreds gathered together in a powerful celebration of the liberation of Jerusalem 45 years ago (28th of Iyar 1967). I was reminded of the power of Jerusalem to unite the Jewish people.