Category Archives: Social Justice/Tezedek

Community Social Justice Collaboration

For a number of years I’ve been involved with my local choice food pantry.  Currently I serve on the executive board and I am a representative on our community efforts toward coordinated customer-focused services to those in our area who are in need.  A number of communities throughout the country use such a model with great success.  The push-and-pull amongst the various agencies, needs, perceptions of customers/clients and personalities makes for a dynamic and fluid process.  It will be interesting to continue to watch it develop.

Are similar customer-focused, co-located or shared social service/social justice models happening in your community?

On the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Earlier today the United States Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the policy known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. DADT forced gay men and lesbian women serving in the US Armed Forces to choose between the honor, dignity and responsibility of serving in the US Military and living lives in hiding. When I served as a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer in the US Navy was only about a year old. The policy was already having a powerful impact, forcing people to choose between closet and career. At that early stage of the policy chaplains were in a bind – – be a safe person to talk to, help people cope, follow policy? Difficult, difficult decisions.

Fast forward to today and victory – – people can serve for all the many reasons that men and women choose to serve in the US Armed Forces: love of country, patriotism, desire to help others, discipline, earn money for an education, dedication, love of brother/sister soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines.   One’s sexual orientation no longer has to be a factor.   Freedom.  Freedom.

Judaism teaches us that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine, whether men love women, women love men, men love men or women love women.  There are a variety of opinions within organized Judaism about the place of homosexuality in Judaism, but halakha and human dignity are not the same thing.

זה היום עשה הי - zeh hayom asah A – this is the day that G-d created, a day of rejoicing.

Some links on the repeal of DADT:

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz on why repeal of DADT is a spiritual victory

NYTimes news story

Service Members United

Twitter stream on DADT

Wikipedia info

Closing Days of 5770

As 5770 draws to close, I look back on a year of personal change, growth and many blessings. The year was largely positive personally, yet so many people in the world faced (and continue to face) challenges – war, unemployment, natural disaster, disconnection, abuse, fear and hate.

The shofar, a ram's horn blown during the High Holy Days to call us action, to introspection, to teshuvah.

There is much work to do in our world – many lives to help, many people who yearn for meaning, for connection, for hope. I pray that I can contribute a bit of my part in the days, weeks and months to come. May our world be more peaceful and better in 5771 than in 5770.

Israel21c Report for CNN on Coexistence Collaboration

Israel21c has been publishing news about Israel that often goes ignored for years. They do amazing work. Recently, two pieces by an Israel21c reporter were on CNN. One is about some inspiring coexistence work in Lod, a city with many struggles. Watch the report here.  The other is about how two scientists in Israel are making all of the world’s flowers more fragrant.

Watch and enjoy.

Another Israeli Hero

Here is another bit of good news about Israel on a difficult day.  An Israeli medic travelling in  Morocco saved the life of a Moroccan girl injured in a jeep accident.

An excerpt from the story:

“He found a pair of jeeps, one upright and the second crumpled off the side of a nearly indiscernible path. Huddled in the minimal shade provided by the mangled jeep were three young children. One of the children’s legs was at an awkward angle, and her clothing was soaked with blood.

The Israeli medic quickly diagnosed an open fracture at the femur complicated by a rupture of the femoral artery. He staunched the bleeding, stabilized the fracture and, with the young girl not yet out of danger, advised the frantic father on how to maintain pressure on the artery and avoid moving the leg for the four-hour ride to the nearest hospital.”

Find out what happened to the girl when you read the full story by the Jerusalem Post.

Give tzedakah, help injured kids and push Gila

I’ve been reading Gila Weiss’s blog My Shrapnel for some time now.  I found her blog through a link (sorry, don’t remember where) and was so inspired by what I read that I went back and read every post.  She is a gifted writer and an interesting woman. The tag line to her blog is “Life as a “Poor, Sad, Heroic, Victim of Terror”®” Take a look and read, you won’t be disappointed.

Gila is riding in the Alyn Wheels of Love Charity Bike Ride this summer and she needs sponsors. So, go do some good, sponsor her and cheer her on.

Here are the directions she gives on her blog post about the ride:

Here is how to sponsor me:
1) Go to the donate online page
2) Follow the instructions on the page. There are options for US, Canadian and Israeli tax receipts.
3) Please make sure to note that you are sponsoring me: Gila Weiss
4) Drop me a line to let me know so that I can make sure it was properly credited to my “account”. (Of course 100% of the money raised is for Alyn).

Good luck to Gila

[As one who did a 5-day 350 mile ride for MS years ago I say – “you go girl”. Of course, I didn’t have to deal with Israeli riders drivers when I trained :-) ]

Movie to see – "Paperclips"

This afternoon I watched the documentary “Paperclips” about a Holocaust education project in Whitwell, Tennessee. The teachers, students and administrators of Whitwell Middle School are to be commended for their decision to teach about tolerance via the Holocaust. If you have not seen this movie – see it. You can even check it out of your local library as I did.

If you would like information on the project, go to the following websites:

PaperClips Movie Website

Wikkipedia on the PaperClips project 

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the PaperClips Movie (and curriculum materials)

See the movie and/or use it as a tool to teach others!

Free Care for Lebanese Wounded in the Current Crisis – in Israel

The Jerusalem Post writes that

Lebanese children and adults wounded in the Hizbullah-Israeli crossfire in Lebanon have been invited to receive free treatment at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. The cost will be paid by Jewish and non-Jewish donors in Israel and abroad, hospital director-general Prof. Zev Rothstein said on Sunday.

“We are not to blame for this war. We don’t ask who is to blame,” said Rothstein. “We have an open Jewish heart. Our aim is to save lives and reduce misery. We don’t hate like the terrorists,” he added.

Free medical care to those who need it, regardless of race, religion, nationality or ethnicity. This is a high expression of Jewish values.

Thanks to Israelity who got it from Jewschool.