Posts tagged ‘Social Justice’

After Psalm 137

by Anne Porter

We’re still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We’ve sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

Jerusalem
We have forgotten you.

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December 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm 5 comments

Hypocricy

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on a panel for a joint conference of the Indiana Muslim Alliance and the Islamic Society of North America. The topic of the panel was social justice from the perspective of the three Abrahamic faiths. My Muslim and Christian colleagues both gave eloquent, passionate speeches about our respective edicts to help the poor, feed the hungry, take care of widows and orphans, etc. All three Abrahamic faiths have strong social justice components – in both Islam and Judaism to do so is mandatory.

After our presentations we took some questions from the audience. The first question posed to us was ‘can you relate your faith’s social justice perspective to the war or politics?’ My colleagues were thoughtfully quiet, but I jumped t the chance to speak about something that’s been bothering me.

During this election season (which is thankfully almost over) I’ve heard much said about taxes – how both candidates will cut taxes for me (a middle classer). At the same time I hear the voices of supposed ‘people of faith’ saying we need to take care of others, but at the same time they refuse to pay more taxes. My question is, if we cut taxes, how do they suppose we take care of those who have less?

I admit, I’m a liberal, at least when it comes to social justice issues. My faith teaches me that it’s not an option to provide for those who are needy – it’s an obligation. I also understand that government is not always the most reputable source of aid and I agree with those who say we need to hold social programs accountable, both fiscally and programmatically. But what I cannot reconcile are those who purport to be ‘good people of faith,’ (especially in my own state) who uphold ‘family values’ and then flat out refuse to financially support programs that aid those in need.

Many say we need to rely on our faith communities to provide this aid. I agree. But the reality is they cannot do it and we have ample evidence of their lack of success. If churches, synagogues and mosques could provide all the aid necessary, we wouldn’t still need government programs. We do.  

The Republican principle of less government is not a bad idea except when it becomes exclusionary, particularly for those least able to advocate for themselves. When it does it is elitist, exclusive, self serving and discriminatory. If that’s what people want, I advocate their right to say so. But don’t call it an expression of any faith – it’s not.

I can hear conservatives labeling me a bleeding heart liberal. If that’s so, I gladly accept their critique and will paint myself pink. When did caring for others, doing the right thing, and loving justice become a weakness or a shortcoming?

October 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm 1 comment

Honor the Image of God: Stop Torture Now

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Rabbis for Human Rights North America and K’vod Habriot have joined with the National Religious Campaign Agains Torture (NRCAT) to bring the anti-torture message to congregations across the country. Get your synagogue to order a Stop Torture banner to hang in your community!

What are the goals of K’vod Habriot?

  1. Build the first-ever, national network to mobilize Jewish commitment to human rights.
  2. Mobilize the Jewish community to address other human rights issues.

K’vod Habriot Statement of Principles:

  • “Every human being is created in the image of God” Bidmut Elohim asah oto: It is incumbent on each of us to act in a way that affirms the fundamental dignity of every human being. Respect for each human being is the foundation of Jewish ethics.
  • “[We must] do what is just and right.” La’asot Tzedek U’Mishpat: For a nation to have legitimacy, it must enforce a system of law that is fair, equitable, and just.
  • “Do not oppress the stranger, orphan or widow.” Ger, Yatom, V’Almananah Al Tonu: We have a duty to promote a society that cares for the economic well-being of all of its members, especially those who are most vulnerable.
  • We believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights flows from these Jewish values, as well as from our own historical experience, especially that of the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. Therefore, it is incumbent on us, as Jews, to defend the human rights of all who are oppressed.

March 24, 2008 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment


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