Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-on Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community [NOOK Book]


How can Jewish values inform our work to create a just world—and help us work together for the good of all communities?

"Somehow, most Jews have decided that being a 'good Jew' means adhering to rituals such as Shabbat, kashrut, and prayer. But the word halakhah, generally translated as 'Jewish law,' literally means ‘the way to walk.’ Rather than a limited set of ritual laws, halakhah represents an ...

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Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-on Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community

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How can Jewish values inform our work to create a just world—and help us work together for the good of all communities?

"Somehow, most Jews have decided that being a 'good Jew' means adhering to rituals such as Shabbat, kashrut, and prayer. But the word halakhah, generally translated as 'Jewish law,' literally means ‘the way to walk.’ Rather than a limited set of ritual laws, halakhah represents an all-encompassing way of life."
—from Chapter 1

Jewish tradition compels us to protect the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable among us. But discerning how to make meaningful and effective change through social justice work—whether in community or on your own—is not always easy.

This guide provides ways to envision and act on your own ideals of social justice by helping you navigate through such issues as:

  • Creating a narrative mission statement that reflects your organization’s values
  • Balancing the needs of your community with those of other communities
  • Weighing the pros and cons of various models of social justice work (direct service, advocacy, investment and community organizing)
  • Expanding the impact and efficiency of your work
  • Locating your social justice goals and methods within the context of Jewish tradition
  • Maintaining the motivation and inspiration to continue your social justice work

Each chapter includes a set of discussion questions to prompt reflection and conversation, as well as tips, tools, processes and forms for getting your social justice project off the ground.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Social justice activists, scholars and teachers will treasure [this]…. Her wise and practical insights [will] inspire each of us to shape a more just world."
Rabbi Richard Jacobs, president, Union for Reform Judaism

"Continually and thoroughly integrates theory with practice. In crystal-clear language with ample examples, explore[s] serious questions about whom we should help, why and how…. A must-read for any Jew who wants to transform good intentions into actions—and to know how and why the Jewish tradition can help [you] do that."
Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, PhD, author, The Way Into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)

“Fresh and inspiring … a guide to Jewish responsibility and a restoration of classical biblical and rabbinic values in the lives of Jews today.”
Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

“Brilliant.… A pitch-perfect guide for schools, congregations and communal organizations to engage in thoughtful, focused and effective social justice work…. Never skimps on the in-depth issues that may appear to complicate the matter but will, in fact, make the right results emerge.”
Ruth Messinger, president, American Jewish World Service

“An important contribution to synagogues that want to deepen their commitment to social justice work, [and] to individual Jews who want to understand the deep connection between Judaism and the commitment to repair the world.”
Rabbi Laura Geller, senior rabbi, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

“A magnificent how-to guide for Jewish institutions that want to take social justice seriously.”
Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, author, Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World

“Masterful…. Gives voice to a broader meaning of what it means to be a 'religious' Jew…. A deeply authentic religious underpinning for a 'spiritual practice' of social justice.”
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, author, Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us about Building Vibrant Jewish Communities

“Unique insights [on] repairing the world through social justice as part of the fullest expression of Jewish values.”
Rabbi Steve Wernick, executive vice president, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

“Presents more than the possibilities of Jewish social justice … a compelling road map that moves us from a place of altruism to a place of profound obligation.”
Dr. Erica Brown, author, Inspired Jewish Leadership: Practical Approaches to Building Strong Communities

“[Turns] passion and deep insights about justice into a practical and practicable guide … teaches us how we can place justice at the center and change the world.”
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun

“There are several publications and websites that give us the ‘how-to’ for doing the work of social justice and religious action. In this volume, Rabbi Jacobs also provides us with the ‘why-to’—the Jewish sources and in-depth thinking about our obligation to make this work a priority in our communities.”
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, immediate past president, Central Conference of American Rabbis

“An inspiration. I could not put it down…. In a voice of passion, wisdom and compassion … teaches us to turn our prayers into reality.”
Rabbi Naomi Levy, author, To Begin Again and Hope Will Find You

“Takes our hand and leads us step by step down the path of tikkun olam…. Pragmatic and yet lofty … a must for individuals and communities alike.”
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Nevei Kodesh, Boulder; author, The Receiving:
Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom
and With Roots in Heaven

“Challenges congregations to grapple with and integrate deeply social justice into congregational lives…. Offers textual understanding, vision and practical tools…. A must-read for faith-based social action.”
Kim Bobo, executive director, Interfaith Worker Justice; author, Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid—And What We Can Do About It

“Offers a compelling vision of a world made whole, and concrete methods for living out our highest ideals in the public square…. Brings real, sustainable, meaningful transformation—of our communities, of the globe—within reach.”
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion

“[Will] work for any Jew … [and] help you learn how to fulfill your Jewish and societal responsibilities…. Has all the rigor of a halakhic work with the passion and vision inspired by our prophetic tradition.”
Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580234689
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/16/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is executive director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. . Widely acknowledged as one of the leading voices in Jewish social justice, Rabbi Jacobs is also the author of There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition and Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community (both Jewish Lights). She has been voted to the Forward newspaper's list of fifty influential Jews, to Newsweek's list of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and to the Jewish Week's list of "thirty-six under thirty-six."

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Social Justice in Judaism: Historical, Textual and Political Roots, and Their Meaning for Jews Today
  • Synagogue Social Justice That Works
  • In the Image: A Jewish Take on Human Rights
  • Torah in the Workplace: Ethical Business Practices for the Synagogue, School, Home and Business
  • A Jewish Approach to Combating Human Trafficking

Click here to contact the author.

Rabbi David Saperstein has served as the director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism for over thirty years. He co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty and serves on the boards of numerous national organizations, including the NAACP and People for the American Way. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction: The Road Ahead xvii

Envisioning a Just Place 1
1. Why Jewish Social Justice? 3
2. Place Matters 17
3. The Ideal City 37

Principles and Practice of Social Justice 63
4. Storytelling for Social Justice 65
5. Creating an Integrated Jewish Life 103
6. Partnerships and Power 127
7. Sacred Words: Engaging with Text and Tradition 147

Taking Action 161
8. Direct Service 165
9. Giving and Investing Money 183
10. Advocacy 195
11. Community Organizing 209

Conclusion: Where Justice Dwells 237
Organizational Resources for Social Justice 241
Notes 247
Suggestions for Further Reading 259
Index 261

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