Where Justice Dwells
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights–North America, reminds us how easy it is to become involved in demands for social justice in far-away places while ignoring outrages in our own communities. She recounts her own experience of living in West Jerusalem, drinking a soy latte at a bustling café and listening to the music of Billy Joel, even as the West Bank was closed due to Jewish Israeli fears about Palestinians interfering with their celebration of Passover. “I struggle to imagine the Palestinian women unable to drop in on their friends in neighboring towns,” Jacobs writes. “It’s much easier for me to block out this anonymous woman in favor of planning my daughter’s Purim costume, making plans with friends, and generally enjoying my West Jerusalem life.” This exciting “Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community” is filled with provocative insights and detailed stories of current U.S.-based social justice projects, plus ideas about what else should be going on in our communities. This book also discusses how social justice work fits into the larger framework of Judaism. Jacobs encourages readers to study social justice texts deeply rather than merely citing them. She cautions us not to use texts to justify preexisting positions and urges us to actually engage with the texts, bring them into conversation with one another, take the rabbinic stories seriously, and let the texts motivate action. Action is what this book aims to generate—action carefully guided by thought that is deep and rooted in the tradition. Though framed in the discourse of Judaism, this book could easily be adapted to structure text studies in a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions.