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Social Justice Is Not Just for Americans

This year will witness the reintegration, at long last, of a Jewish vision for social justice in both the Diaspora and in Israel.

At the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, a recent gathering of Jewish social justice organization, Rabbi David Rosenn of the New Israel Fund and I co-led a conversation about how the situation in Israel influences our domestic justice work, and vice versa.

In that overflowing room, we understood how intensely our community yearns for a Jewish values framework that proves large enough, bold enough, loving enough, and authentic enough to encompass both domestic politics and the tangled narratives of the Middle East.

In 2014, the peace talks will force Jewish leaders and organizations to get off the fence and declare where we stand, while the midterm elections will drive wider the political gap in the United States. Both of these situations lead easily to “us vs. them” rhetoric.

But our tradition offers instead a framework in which determined love and care for the other only strengthen our ability to care for ourselves. In this year of dramatic possibility, our Jewish tradition can show us the way to cut through cynicism and selfishness, and to move forward with a holistic approach to justice and security on both sides of the ocean. 

Jill Jacobs is the executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

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