A Call for Social Justice on Tisha B'Av

Groups Plan Holiday Actions to Support Israeli Protests

Mass Action: With Israel’s social protest movement growing, more voices are calling for government action to meet its demands.
Getty Images
Mass Action: With Israel’s social protest movement growing, more voices are calling for government action to meet its demands.

By Rabbi Andrew Sacks

Published August 08, 2011, issue of August 19, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel is in the midst of an awakening, perhaps even a social revolution, but its official State Rabbinate and, indeed, virtually all religious officials, are silent. How can this be? Isn’t it the role of religious leaders to provide guidance?

Three weeks ago a few people set up tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to protest the inability of people to find reasonably priced housing. There are now thousands of tent and camp sites in over 40 cities, and 300,000 people marched in protest Saturday night.

Although Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, we are 42nd in the average earned income per citizen. While the economy may be strong, many educated, hard-working, taxpaying citizens find that they are unable to finish the month on the salary earned. At the same time, significant segments of our society do not work by choice. Tens of thousands are excused from military service.

Those who play by the rules, who work hard, who do military duty and pay taxes, are getting a raw deal. But the tipping point has surfaced and, in a wave of intensity that caught almost all by surprise, tens of thousands of working and middle class Israelis are demanding that Israel change social priorities.

The leadership of the Masorti movement and of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel has designated Tisha B’Av as a day of solidarity with the “tent protest” movement.

On the evening of the fast, and for the duration of the day, we will hold events connecting the destruction of the ancient Temple with this struggle for the future of our homeland. These actions will link the “senseless hatred” in their time with the gaping economic disparity in Israel today.

We call upon the government of Israel to concern itself with the welfare of all in the society. Not from the perspective of charity, but from that of justice; not tzedeka, but tzedek. The government must repair the errors which have brought the working and middle classes to the brink.

The continuing erosion of the middle class strikes at the heart of democracy. The government must alter national priorities in a profound and comprehensive manner, to be attentive to the cry of the people and to preserve our uniquely valuable homeland.

Israel was established as a fulfillment of a Zionist dream that yearned for social justice and equity. “Zionism,” Theodor Herzl wrote, “as I understand it, is not solely about the desire to acquire a legally secure piece of real estate for our downtrodden people, after all, but also about the desire to grow towards moral and spiritual perfection.”

This Tisha B’Av, let us commit ourselves again to that vision.

Rabbi Andrew Sacks is the director of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.