What is the difference between social action and social justice? Should synagogues engage with other faith groups — in public arenas — to promote social change? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such public actions? How is success in a synagogue measured?
Jack Bloom ReThinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life Lawrence A. Hoffman, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006, 240 pp, $19.99 The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community Ron Wolfson, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006, 224 pp, $19.99 Synagogue 2000 (S2K) — now (S3K) — is one of the most exciting
Jeannie Appleman My seven-year-old daughter came home from yeshiva today and announced proudly that she had been unanimously elected to represent her second-grade class on student council. Her view of what it means to be a leader (handing out candy to her classmates) indicates that she knows the desires and interests of her constituency —
Jonah Pesner: The pages of this issue of Sh’ma tell the story of a revolution in the way the Jewish community is pursuing justice. They are tales of teaching seminary students to lead in public life; of synagogue leaders being trained to engage in strategic campaigns to create networks of relationships inside congregations; and of serious Jewish engagement with broad-based organizing efforts that cross lines of race, class, and faith to act powerfully and effectively for social change.
Marshall Gans: What can Hillel’s three questions teach us about congregational leadership, community, and work in the world? I began my journey as the son of a rabbi and teacher in Bakersfield, California, found myself called to public work in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, discovered a vocation for organizing, and, in the fall of 1965, joined Cesar Chavez for 16 years in his effort to unionize farm workers. After 28 years “in the field,” I returned to Harvard where I now teach a rising generation of students how to turn their values into the power we need to repair ourselves, our community, and our world; this is the work of organizing.
Elizabeth Richman interviews Dov Linzer on including a class in congregation-based organizing at his yeshiva, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.
Benjamin Ross: I had spent ten years organizing for tenant rights and advocating for immigrant rights with Black, Latino, and immigrant communities. At that time, I had little or no contact with synagogue life. But through synagogue organizing, I began a very public and powerful relationship with Torah as a living story. Stories came alive, no longer static words in an ancient scroll. Rather than advocating for others, I became a leader as a Jew for justice.