If You Could Get All the Jews Everywhere to Do Something, What Would it Be?

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Last week I was at this salon type thing where a diverse group of Jews had a conversation about Jewish peoplehood. I have no sense of what that means, and to be honest, I don’t think it makes that big of a difference, but one thing that someone mentioned was if there’s a way to unite all kinds of Jews from all over the world under one message. Could Jews be the first carbon neutral religion in the world? Maybe Jews should be championing literacy for all?

It was an interesting idea, but one that I don’t think has a huge amount of realism behind it. Getting all the Jews in the world, or even most of the Jews in the world, to agree on anything is a laughable goal. But even if it was possible, I don’t think carbon neutrality or literacy are likely to be issues that unite everyone, if only because in some ways those seem to me to be very lefty issues. You might be able to get lots of liberal Jews together on these issues, but coming from an Orthodox community, I have to say I can’t imagine the principal of my high school getting behind a carbon neutral initiative that united his school with, say, a Reform Temple. I don’t think he’d be anti carbon neutrality, but I don’t think he’d be as excited about it as he would be if it was a purely Orthodox endeavor.

But you know what I think he would get behind, if only because there would simply be no way he could come out against it? An organization dedicated to eliminating poverty. Poverty and hunger are the kinds of things that everyone can agree on. It’s bad when people don’t have enough money to provide safe drinking water for their village. It’s bad when mothers can’t afford to feed their kids. There’s no other side to that, you know?

So even though I know it’s impossible, I’d like to suggest that all Jews everywhere get on board with NURU, a new organization that aims to fight terrorism by ending poverty. Learn more in the video below:

The End (Jake’s Story) from Nuru International on Vimeo.

Posted on November 16, 2009

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3 thoughts on “If You Could Get All the Jews Everywhere to Do Something, What Would it Be?

  1. llennhoff

    Sadly, I think even that would not get 100% support, as some Jews would insist that halacha requires that we lift all Jews out of poverty before we are permitted to help non-Jews.

  2. Dupree 7

    I think that given limited resources the halachic obligation is to help those closest by relationship first. There is a pretty standard order which goes something like ones family,community,etc., but if one is in a position to help eliminate hunger or thirst wherever it exists I don’t imagine halachic authorities objecting. I believe Mazon is an example of an organization in this area that helps Jews and Gentiles. It seems to me that the important thing is to check with a halachic authority. The quote from Hillel “If I am not for myself who will be for me?” But Hillel’s questioning, does not end with this first query. It continues, “If I am only for myself, what am I?

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