We’ve been experiencing some very un-winter-like weather in New York City. Despite the lack of cold, the longer nights serve as a reminder that it’s not late fall, or early spring: we’re at the beginning of winter. There are a lot of overlapping celebrations at the end of December. This year Hanukkah overlaps with Winter Solstice (December 22) and Christmas (December 25). It’s ironic that solstice, the longest night of the year is on Hanukkah, a holiday in which we use light to declare to the world that we are Jews. This week’s Nu is focused on ways in which we can be a light in the world around us in how we give, how we spend, and how we eat:
- Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, the Director of North American Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, asks Jews to take the concept of ba’al taschit, the commandment not to needlessly waste or destroy, to the restaurant. Her article for The Jew and the Carrot exposes the causes of food waste that we, as consumers, have control of: what we throw away by ordering too much at restaurants.
- After listening to AJWS President Ruth Messinger the University of Washington earlier this month, Jew-ish writer Emily Alhadeff found herself re-invigorated in the fight for Jewish social justice. It turns out that most people engaged in social justice are young adults: EJewishPhilanthropy looks at a new survey that asserts that when engaged in social justice at a young age, youth are inclined to continue that engagement and bring it into their Jewish practice. Take it from Jessica Anth, 12 years-old and the newest member of the board of directors at Friends of the Walton County Animal Shelter.
- The Pursue team made a video this morning for the Where Do You Give? campaign explaining where, why, and how we give. Tzedakah is about Making Choices: Do you give to Jewish or non-Jewish Causes?, as Rochelle Eisenberg discusses in the Baltimore Jewish Times. Emily Goldberg at EJewishPhilanthropy wrote Tzedakah: Kindness by Choice. In it, she shows the varied spectrum of righteous action, “Making a life-changing impact could ensue simply from initializing a conversation with someone. Holding the door for a person behind you, regardless of that person’s background, is an act of true righteousness.”
- Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz asks, Where is God in Tikkun Olam? Can we engage in Jewish social justice without acknowledging the Divine reasoning behind the work we do as Jews? In a recent poll by Moment Magazine Blog, 97% of the people polled believes that you can be Jewish without belief in God. For a third option, Huffington Post writer, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, explains how you can be both a liberal person and a person of faith. What are your thoughts? Is your Jewish justice work based on faith?
- On a related note, author and literary critic Christopher Hitchens died this morning at 62. Here are a few tributes to his memory from The Nation and the Forward. Valerie Elverton-Dixon of Tikkun Daily Blog had this to say about Christopher Hitchens: “I am a believer who believes that God Is. I thought his anti-theistic challenge was a good thing for those of us who believe in God. It made me ask: How deep is my Love? I believe that God is LOVE, emphasis on the LOVE.” What do you think?