What does Social Action mean for Jews?

Tikkun Olam – the Hebrew translates as ‘healing’ or ‘perfecting’ the world and instils a shared responsibility in the welfare of society at large. This can be expressed in a wide variety of personal and creative ways: helping others, looking after our environment, addressing diverse human rights and varied social challenges.

Gemilut Chasadim – the Hebrew phrase means ‘the giving of loving-kindness’ which knows no bounds. It teaches the art of giving without an expectation to receive something material in return. Acts of kindness are engraved in a Jewish way of life, where individuals aspire to give selflessly of their time and of themselves.

Tzedek – the Hebrew translates as ‘righteousness’ and ‘justice’ and amongst other aspects manifests itself through social action and acts of loving-kindness; not because it feels good but because the Jewish faith educates that it is the right thing to do.

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Mitzvah Day 2015

Mitzvah day is about “collective, hands-on social action projects.” On Sunday November 22nd our synagogue was filled with the warmth of our communal baking of bread. Throughout the day people from 3 faiths and all ages kneaded, plaited, sprinkled poppy seeds, proved and proved again, then baked a grand total of 39 magnificent challot. (Our original goal was 30.) These were collected by a delighted Tim from “Charity –link” and taken to the city centre food bank.

In October the food-bank’s fund-raiser Susan McEniff spoke at our chavurah supper. She explained that a growing number of people in Leicester are experiencing food poverty. Benefit sanctions and zero-hours contracts mean many people simply cannot afford to buy food. If you want to find out more visit their website: www.charitylink.org.

 

Poverty Action Week 2016 will take place from Monday 25th – Sunday 31st January. “We would love to have your support!   Key activities will include Foody Tuesday on 26th Jan to highlight the issue of food poverty and in Leicester encourage donations to our Leicester city centre based food bank. (Malcom Arcade)

There is also Wear a Funky Scarf Day on Friday 29th January, our big annual ‘dress up day’ which encourages people throughout Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire to wear a scarf, donate an amount of their choice and have fun with others taking part.  (We chose the scarf as a symbol of warmth and to link to the issue of fuel poverty and the fact that many of the people we help can’t afford to keep warm over the winter period).”

 

Links:

Jewish Social Actions:

JCORE – a Jewish voice on Race and Asylum issues:  www.jcore.org.uk

Being Green and Jewish – Connecting Judaism to the environment. Many useful articles and ideas for how to put Tikkun Olam into practice: www.biggreenjewish.com

Tzedek’s vision is of a Jewish community actively involved in the reduction of extreme poverty. www.tzedek.org.uk

World Jewish Relief – Its aims: Relieving poverty, building sustainable livelihoods, community development, disaster response: www.worldjewishrelief.org

 

Local Social Actions:

Tackling food poverty: www.charity-link.org

Bone-marrow register: www.rikbasra.com

Supporting asylum seekers and refugees: www.cityofsanctuary.com