Today is Day 9 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to “Tweet Your Faith.” Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
People of faith bring a number of key perspectives to contemporary society. In a world that too often bows at the altar of radical individualism, we argue for the value of community. Where communities are intolerant of difference, we argue for the dignity and value of each human being. To those who view faith as a source of suffering rather than healing, we offer examples of transformative social movements that were firmly based in faith: the abolition of slavery in the United States; the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa; and India’s casting off of colonialism, among many others.
My organization, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, has much in common with the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. We are mobilizing the Jewish community to hold America to its promise as a land of opportunity for all. This nation has provided incredible opportunity for Jews, many of whom immigrated with nothing but the clothes on their backs. We are a community of Jews working to ensure that our nation is one where basic fairness and the common good underpin social and economic policy – not just for Jews, but for all who live here.
While our work is based in and inspired by Jewish tradition and history, we work across lines of race and faith in communities from coast to coast. In doing so, we affirm that we are interconnected and that our fates are inextricably linked. We believe that when any group of people is treated wrongly, everyone in our nation is harmed.
Faiza Ali, a participant in Bend the Arc’s Community Organizing Residency, an interfaith training program for community organizers, has taken this to heart. Faiza, a Muslim, works with a coalition largely composed of Christian churches to find solutions to community problems. Her commitment to social justice is based in her religious belief, but it in no way conflicts with the diverse group of congregants she works with. Her commitment to multi-faith action is exactly what Bend the Arc strives to foster.
In addition to our work in communities, we are taking a stand in Washington, D.C. for a tax system that is fair, progressive, and that works for everyone. I recently joined other faith leaders, including Unitarian Universalists, for “Rabbis, Imams, Pastors and Nuns on the Bus,” to encourage our elected officials to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and to end destructive and unnecessary tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Though our practices differ, people of faith share a tradition of service and the belief that we must work together to raise up those in need.
When we look at news around the world, we often see evidence that religion can be a source of conflict. By providing concrete evidence to the contrary, we show that religion truly can be a unifying force and help address the roots of suffering in our society. As it says in the Talmud, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” And when we work in interfaith partnership, we can accomplish so much more together.
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block is Senior Director of Leadership Initiatives and Rabbi-in-Residence for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.