Nu? This Week in Jews and Social Justice
- The Union for Reform Judaism announced this week that AJWS board member Rabbi Richard Jacobs has been nominated to be the movement’s next leader. Currently the rabbi of a suburban NYC congregation, Jacobs has traveled to Chad and Haiti with AJWS and is a dedicated to bringing greater environmentalism and pluralism into contemporary Jewish life. In an interview with the JTA, Jacobs said he is also interested in “making Jewish communal life relevant for Jews in their 20s and 30s.” Between this and Ruth Messinger’s praise that “Rick has been a powerful voice on international social and economic justice,” we at Pursue look forward to his efforts in this new leadership position.
- Hazon intern Ilana Krakowski blogged this week on The Jew and the Carrot about a Jewish response to the inevitable food waste that comes even from reputed “sustainable” farms. As with Purim, when we are required to give gifts to the poor, farming also requires that part of the harvest be intentionally left for the poor. While this may be difficult to put into practice, she highlights the Israeli organization Leket, whose food rescues from farms and private celebrations around the country have become a serious contribution to sustainably fighting poverty by providing fresh food to low-income populations.
- Tackling Torah blogger Elyssa Cohen posted this week on the recent Torah portions of Vayikra and Tzav, focusing on the meaning of sacrificial offerings. While in Biblical times, a physical object was sacrificed, Cohen believes that today, we may instead sacrifice our evil inclination – selfish impulses that take us away from our concern for others. Drawing on her study of Mussar as a Jewish social justice practice, she writes, “We need guidelines for how to maintain a healthy balance of the sacrifices we each make in our lives in order to maintain a caring community and larger global society while still fulfilling our own needs.”
- Expanding on the notion of sacrifice, Rabbi Danielle Stillman wrote a commentary in the Jewish Exponent on this week’s Torah portion, Shemini. Though animal sacrifices are no longer part of Jewish practice, the consumption of animals according to the laws of kashrut still is. Stillman believes that in taking these laws a step further through eco-kashrut – considering the environmental impact of one’s food choices – and the Magen Tzedek – a new ethical seal for kosher products – kashrut can be a model example of how to make sacrifices for a more just world. In making hard food choices, “holiness comes from paying attention to what we are eating in order to be more compassionate to other humans, animals and the earth.”