Activism and Education


 

Koenig, Leah. “Sandy Relief Interview: Rabbi Ari Hart.” Repair the World Blog. 5 December 2012.

What compelled you to serve in the days and weeks after Hurricane Sandy?
For me it starts with Jewish tradition. There is a quote from the Torah that says we are not to stand idly by [while witnessing] the blood of our neighbor. Judaism teaches us that above all, human life is so sacred. When the storm first hit, my first impulse was to make sure my wife and I were safe. Then as soon as we realized we were okay, and some of the pictures of the destruction started to show up on the internet, I just felt compelled to see what could be done. Read More…

 

Lipman, Steve. “‘When Can We Go Home?'” Jewish Week. 8 November 2012.

Three short blocks from Jamaica Bay, inside the Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater, Tova Weiss, a mother of six, ate lunch one afternoon this week in an atmosphere that had suddenly become unfamiliar – a warm room. Read More…

 

Samuel, Sigal. “Rabbi, Why Should I Vote?” The Daily Beast. 22 October 2012.

Yesterday, at an Uri L’Tzedek lecture on “the power of the Jewish vote,” I came across an amazing, little-known bit of Jewish responsa literature. This teshuva-literally, an “answer” given to a question asked by the Jewish community-was penned on October 3, 1984 by Rabbi Moses Feinstein, Orthodox Jewry’s foremost modern legal authority. Asked whether Jews have an obligation to vote in American elections, Rabbi Feinstein wrote: Read More…

 

Strauss, Jason. “‘Truth and Just Peace’: Constructing a New Kaavanah for Tisha B’Av.” 27 July 2012.

Why are we fasting? Why was the Temple destroyed? The Talmud (BT Yoma 9a) wonders about this very issue. The Gemara suggests that the destruction of the first Beit Ha-Mikdash resulted from the violation of a familiar threesome of sins: worship of deities other than G-d, sexual immorality and murder. Elsewhere in the Talmud (BT Sanhedrin 74a), these same three acts are listed as the only sins for which a Jew must forfeit his or her life rather than violate them. It is not surprising, therefore, that consistent infringement of these prohibitions by the Jewish people warranted a punishment, even one as severe as exile. Read More…

 

Hart, Ari. “Cries in the Night: Human Trafficking and Tisha B’Av.” Huffington Post. 26 July 2012.

“Alas!
Lonely sits the city
Once great with people!
She that was great among nations
Is become like a widow;
The princess among states
has become a slave.”

 

Thus begins the reading of Lamentations, the Bible book traditionally read by Jews marking the ninth of Av, the day we commemorate the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, 2,000 years ago. Along with the destruction of the Temple, we also mark many tragedies that befell the Jewish people during this time, including the tragedy of the remnants of the cities of Jerusalem who were taken as slaves. The theme of forced slavery runs throughout the literature of the time. The Roman centurions enslaved thousands upon thousands of Jews. The Roman historian Dio Cassius wrote that the glut of persons flooding the slave market caused the prices to plummet. The Torah’s nightmare, written thousands of years before, had become manifest: “And there you shall be sold to your enemies as slaves and maidservants, but there shall be no buyers” (Deuteronomy 28:68). Read More…

 

Schwartz, Josh. “In the Beginning There Was Not: A Tisha B’Av Reflection.” Huffington Post. 25 July 2012.

All beginnings lack. One could say that the beginning of the story is in the paradise we lost, in the utopia we yearn for, “as in days of old” (Lamentations 5:21). But the story does not begin in that paradisiacal stasis. The story can only begin in the occasion of a break; it only begins with change. Read More…

Weiss, Ari. “Humility, Freedom, and Transcendence: An Exchange of Letters.” Shma, A Journal of Jewish Ideas. 1 May 2012.

In October of 2011, in occupied Zuccotti Park, I noticed two seemingly unrelated occurrences. The first was a young Haredi man living with the anarchists; the second was a group of Modern Orthodox graduate students setting up an Occupy Sukkot space in the park. These sightings raised an important set of questions for me: Is there a role for the Torah, as Judaism’s founding text, in contributing to the literature that shapes left-wing ideologies? Does my own Jewish day school education inform my progressive political convictions? Read More…

“Uri L’Tzedek Brings Food Justice to the Seder Table.”Jspace. 03 April 2012.

Every Passover, at seders across the world, the Jewish escape from slavery is retold. Yet, for the second year in a row, Uri L’Tzedek has used the festive meal to educate others about a new form of slavery, a modern day blight that is hidden in the food we eat each day. Read More…

Weiss, Ari. “NiShma – Consumerism.” Shma, A Journal of Jewish Ideas. 02 February 2012.

“And you shall bring no abhorrent thing into your house or you will be under the ban like it. You shall surely despise it and shall surely abhor it, for it is under the ban.” -Deuteronomy 7:26

Simply read, this verse bans the abhorrent from the Jewish home. In doing so, it asks us to define the abhorrent: that which is so despised that it has no place in Jewish life and must be put under ban. The rabbis of the Talmud have traditionally identified the abhorrent with idol worship. In their reading, anything contaminated through the worship of a foreign God cannot be consumed by Jews. Read More…

Hart, Ari. “Talking and Teaching about Tzedakah.” Where Do You Give? 5 December 2011.

How we make and spend our money is a central concern in Jewish life. The concern is most famously manifested in tzedakah: using money to pursue tzedek – justice-by providing financial support to individuals and institutions in their struggles for better lives and a better world. Read more…

“iChange: Uri L’Tzedek Fellows, Jason Strauss and Yael Malul.” Pursue Blog. 11 August 2011.

Each summer Pursue’s partner, Uri L’Tzedek hosts fellows in New York City who spend the summer months learning about the the role of social justice in the Torah, participating in workshops devoted to social justice and community organizing, and doing direct service work.

Meet two of this summer’s fellows below! Read more…

 

Listen to Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on Portland’s KBOO Community Radio!

 

Torok, Ryan. “Rabbis Support Grocery Workers in Contract Fight.” Jewish Journal. 21 June 2011.

Rabbi Jonathan Klein stood at the entrance to Albertson’s supermarket in Los Feliz and handed a supermarket manager a blown-up letter expressing his support for workers in their fractious contract negotiations with the major chains. Read more

 

Benwick, Bonnie. “Tom Vilsack Throws A Seder.” The Washington Post. 28 April 2011.

The USDA held a seder Wednesday night, but it was neither a day late nor any part of a dollar short on meaning. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and two Jewish outreach organizations used a novel, piggyback-on-Passover approach to spotlight issues related to hunger and justice in America. Read more...

 

Schwartz, Rabbi Sid. “Finding Faith, Doing Service in Haiti”. Washington Jewish Week. 16 February 2011.

On the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, I traveled to the Leogane region of Haiti, the center of the earthquake’s devastation. I went as the guest of an Israeli nongovernmental organization called Tevel b’Tzedek (The Earth, in Justice), founded in 2005 by Rabbi Micah Odenheimer to promote social and environmental justice in the world. With the support of IsraAid, a team of Israeli volunteers traveled to the region soon after the earthquake. Uri l’Tzedek, a U.S.-based Orthodox social justice organization, asked me to be the first of a series of rabbis to visit the team and interact with many of the Haitians that they have been helping. Read more…

 

Lowenfeld, Jonah. The Rabbi and his ‘Calling.’ Jewish Journal. 15 December 2010.

In the fall of 2007, then-rabbinical student Shmuly Yanklowitz traveled with a few of his colleagues from the Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York to San Diego. Wildfires had just burned through 500,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 homes. “I didn’t know what we were going to do,” Yanklowitz said at the time. “I just knew that we had to be there.” Read more…

 

Liedtke, Jonathon. We are all in this world together. The Canadian Jewish News. 15 December 2010.

At the beginning of October, students from across Canada (myself included) gave up our Thanksgiving weekends – sacrificing seeing friends and family, studying for midterms and our regular campus activities, in other words, a “normal weekend” – for the pursuit of something bigger. Read more…

 

Usadin, Sharon. Post-college volunteers compare practices with Israel. The Jerusalem Post. 21 November 2010.

During his Peace Corps service in Paraguay, Matthew Lebon unexpectedly found himself working on a permaculture farm – a sustainable, minimally wasteful type of food cultivation. He was so captivated by it that he signed up for a Masa Israel ecological farming program near Modi’in. Read more…

 

Berkman, Jacob. Did the Jewish Futures Conference present any shared values? JTA. 9 November 2010.

Monday, I attended the morning conference at the General Assembly on Jewish Futures, organized by the creative and passionate David Bryfman. The banquet hall, packed with hundreds of Jewish leaders, showcased innovative projects such as Punk Media and Media Midrash, and dynamic speakers including Dr. Jon Woocher and Laurie Karr. Read more…

 

“Covenant Foundations Announces New Grants.” EJewishPhilanthropy.com 8 January 2010

From a technology-based curriculum to teach students about Jewish moral and social issues, to a mentorship program for young girls to encourage Jewish community engagement, 13 innovative and trailblazing initiatives are recipients of new Covenant Foundation grants. As part of approximately $2 million to be distributed this year, the Foundation announced today $798,100 in new grants as part of its mission to support, advance and recognize excellence and impact in Jewish educational settings. Read More…

 

“Jewish Ethics of War and Peace with Michael Walzer and Uri L’Tzedek.” PrincetonHillel.org 16 December 2009

As American Jews, we are confronted by the ethical dilemmas inherent in warfare on two planes: As full participants in American democracy, we take full responsibility for the ethical dimension of America’s own wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing war against terrorism. At the same time, we are deeply committed to the safety of the State of Israel and its citizens, have a somber recognition of the wars Israel must fight to preserve its independence, and yet hope that Israel conducts its warfare in a way that protects Israel’s national interests while also living up to the ethical ideals of the Jewish tradition. Read more…

 

“To ‘Free’ Or Not To ‘Free’.” The Jewish Week. 15 December 2009.

When it comes to attracting young Jews to Jewish programs and events, “free” has become the operative word. Those in their teens and 20s have been dubbed “Generation Free” by the likes of Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired Magazine and author of “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (Hyperion, 2009), and Jews are no exception. Read More…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Chanukkah Gelt: Giving This Holiday Season.” Patheos.com 15 December 2009

Chanukkah gelt, chocolates wrapped up in the shape of coins, reminds us each year of the importance of digging deeper into our pockets and giving to others in need. It is not accidental that we feel this imperative during the holiday season, as it is in a section of the Torah dealing with the Jewish holidays that we reiterate the commandment of giving:If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your G-d is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tight-fisted toward your poor brother. Rather, be open-handed and freely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he lacks (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). Read more…

 

Klein, Amy. “Orthodox students are embracing social action.” JTA. 16 November 2009.

A few months after Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, Texas, in September 2008, Yeshiva University student David Eckstein went to the devastated area with 32 other students to help rebuild homes. Read more…

 

Goldrich, Lois. “Teaneck shul to create a social justice group.” New Jersey Jewish Standard. 6 November 2009.

This weekend, the young people of Netivot Shalom will study the concept of social responsibility at a Shabbaton hosting Rabbi Ari Weiss, director of Uri L’Tzedek. Read more…

 

Runyan, Joshua. “Jewish ‘Heroes’ Finalists Announced.” Chabad Lubavitch News Blog. 4 November 2009.

The votes are in, and the five individuals who could be revealed as the No. 1 hero of North American Jews include a woman who ensures that thousands of needy brides and grooms have the best wedding possible; a comedian whose non-profit has delivered some 21,000 meals to the hungry in just two years; a rabbinical student trying to institute ethical oversight of kosher businesses; a blogging rabbi behind one of the largest Jewish college festivals; and a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary who founded the Friendship Circle, a program dedicated to changing the way society interacts with children with special needs. Read more…

 

Blueprint Staff. “5 Finalists Announced in First Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards.” New York Blueprint. 4 November 2009.

UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, announced today the 5 finalists in the First Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards. The Jewish Community Hero Awards is the largest-ever Jewish social networking effort, celebrating the selflessness and courage of individuals who are bettering their communities through service and outreach. The Awards have generated an overwhelming response across the continent, and more than 500,000 votes were cast online for over 430 nominees in the preliminary round. Read more…

 

Nathan-Kazis, Josh. “‘Heroes’ Award Finalists Announced.” The Forward. 3 November 2009.

The Jewish Federations of North America today announced the five finalists in its controversial Jewish Community Heroes Awards – and while 12 of the 20 semi-finalists are Lubavitchers, only two of the finalists are associated with the movement. Read more…

 

Breitbart, Morris. “My summer job led me to social justice.” The Jewish Chronicle. 15 October 2009.

As I entered the synagogue of the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University to hear Rabbi Ari Weiss lead a discussion on the Tav HaYosher, an ethical seal for kosher eating establishments, I was filled with excitement.Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “An Annual Call to Justice.” New Jersey Jewish Standard. 11 September 2009.

“The Talmud teaches that the three types of shofar blasts heard on Rosh HaShanah represent three types of cries: the teruah (brief whimpering cries), the shevarim (groaning cries of medium length), and the tekia (long clear cries). Each cry represents a different kind of suffering in the world that we are called to internalize: the intermittent sob of those afflicted with disease and physical and mental suffering; the groan of an oppressed laborer in a cell, a factory, and a field; and the plaintive keening of one entrenched in the deepest form of poverty in the developing world.” Read more…

 

Lipowsky, Josh. “After the Fall: Rabbis’ Arrests Shake Jewish World.” New Jersey Jewish Standard. 31 July 2009.

When Rabbi Robert Scheinberg gave the invocation at Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano’s July 1 inauguration, he remarked that Hoboken had elected “leaders of tremendous intelligence and wisdom and political skill and articulateness and passion and zeal to serve.” Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “A Jewish Call for Social Justice.” The Jewish Press. 29 July 2009

Pope Benedict XVI recently called on the Catholic community to promote human rights and bring an end to poverty. The pope’s directive, laden with biblical charges and humanistic principles, spurns deregulation and freedom from taxes and instead focuses on addressing the root causes of poverty and ensuring universal access to basic human needs such as clean water, sustenance, health, education and employment. Read more…

 

Sales, Ben. “Orthodox Social Justice?” New Voices. 22 July 2009

“He had been to Ghana, Thailand and El Salvador with the American Jewish World Service and had worked for Jewish Funds for Justice, but Shmuly Yanklowitz felt a void.” Read more…

 

Eskreis-Winkler, Lauren. “Workers of the World Unite you have Nothing to Lose but your Grains.” YU Commentator. 12 May 2008.

“This semester, students at Stern were moved and inspired by a simple realization: we are each morally responsible for the things we finance.” Read more…

 

Besser, James D. “On The Leading Edge Of Social Change.” The Jewish Week. 18 June 2008.

“If you’re looking for signs of change in the world of Jewish activism, look no further than San Francisco, where the local Jewish federation has reached into the outsider realm of independent Jewish social justice groups for a new leader.” Read more…

 

Snyder, Tamar. “Social Justice – An Orthodox Cause?” The Jewish Week. 18 June 2008.

“Tikkun olam,” the powerful Jewish concept of repairing the world, has long been heralded as the rallying cry of Conservative and Reform Jewry. But a growing number of Orthodox 20- and 30-year-olds are trying to revive social justice responsibilities among their Orthodox peers – not as a liberal, humanistic-driven concept, but as one steeped in Jewish tradition and halacha.” Read more…

 

Orbach, Michael. “Social Activism, Modern Orthodox-Style.” The Forward. 25 February 2009.

It was a typical crowd for a Yeshiva University student event: long skirts and long sleeves for the girls, yarmulkes and tzitzis for the boys. But the January lecture featured no rabbi. And the topic was hardly typical Torah fare.”Read more…

 

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. “Yeshiva Is Incubator For Orthodox Activism.” The Forward. 27 March 2009.

“Reading your March 6 news article “Social Activism, Modern Orthodox-Style,” I was struck by consultant Shifra Bronznick’s assessment of three major factors that have caused the increased interest in young Orthodox engagement in social justice: Darfur, the Agriprocessors scandal and the plethora of nondenominational Jewish social justice organizations.” Read more…

 

Billet, Shira. “Ma’ayanoters Serve at J-Serve.” The Stream (Ma’ayanot Newsletter). April 2009.

“Jewish high school students are often confronted with a difficult tension: On the one hand, they are educated to be good Jews, good community members, and good citizens, who actualize their values in the world. On the other hand, they find themselves trapped in a world of heavy academic workloads and studies that often seem dissociated from the real needs of the world.” Read more…

 

Geizhals, Rachel. “Interfaith Vigil for Mumbai Victims.” Blogs at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. 2 December 2008. Video.

“This interfaith vigil was held on Monday near the Indian mission in Manhattan, in wake of last Wednesday’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The attacks killed close to 200 people, six of whom were Jews. They were in the city’s Chabad building – a Jewish community and outreach center – when the attacks took place.” Read more…

 

Ari Weiss Video Interview on JInsider.com

View here