A 'Both/And' Perspective
אלו ואלוe’lu v’elu
Rav Kook taught…“The greatest obstruction to achieving truth is the failure to recognize the need for different opinions, narratives, and identities to interact with one another in order to realize something greater than anything could be understood on its own. This is the path to both peace and truth…” -Introduction to commentary on Brachot, Ein Aya
There is a fundamental value in Jewish tradition that multiple truths exist in the world. We are encouraged to engage in civil discourse, to strive to live in a space of “yes/and”, and to see other’s perspectives. We reflect and grapple with complexity, listening to those who think differently than others with kindness and compassion. This value of multiple perspectives and opinions, even when they are in tension, is essential in our pursuit of a more just and equitable society.
Strengthening Each Other
Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wit of their neighbor -Proverbs 27:17
We believe that nothing is possible without meaningful relationships. In some cases, people do similar work alongside one another. In other cases, people bring unique contributions and work across lines of difference that allows for a result that would otherwise not be accomplished. Our partners and colleagues are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. We actively collaborate and learn in chevruta (paired learning), which is built out of the notion that we could never discover alone what we can discover in a relationship with others. When we lift up, celebrate, and appreciate others, we ultimately work towards a stronger outcome.
When the community is in trouble do not say, "I will go home and eat and drink and all will be well with me." … Rather, involve yourself in the community's distress … -Babylonian Talmud Taanit 11a
Jewish tradition instructs people to “not stand idly” while others undergo hardship. We are obligated to amplify marginalized individual’s voices, listen to our neighbors, and actively participate in helping to address the barriers to realizing one’s full potential to pursue a just world. Jewish wisdom assumes that we live in community with others, including those we may not know or who live under different circumstances than us. When we consider the relationships we build, offer support, and show-up as a collective responsibility, we see the potential of what we can achieve.
Repairing the World
תיקון עולםtikkun olam
If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible. -Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
The value of Repairing the World encompasses and drives our work. Every act of service, learning, and relationship building is part of an incremental process that leads us closer to our collective vision. The idea of helping to repair the brokenness in the world around us is a fundamental Jewish value, and extends to all people, not just Jews alone. It is not assumed that any one person will fix the brokenness of the world. It is assumed that, together, and with everyone doing their part, we have the power to move towards a repaired world. Under the overarching framework of Repairing the World, the values of Action and Learning, recognizing the Preciousness of Each Human, Strengthening Each Other, showing up in Solidarity with the communities around us, embodying a “Both-And” perspective, and working in the pursuit of Justice help us contextualize our work. These values are intrinsically linked and act as a foundation as we strive to create a more just and equitable world.
Justice, justice, shall you pursue. -Deuteronomy 16:20
The pursuit of justice is an inherently Jewish value, the root of repairing the world. Jewish tradition explains that a person is commanded to work towards justice by working to build a just, complete world - as individuals and as a community. We serve alongside our communities in pursuit of a just society while seeking to create meaningful and lasting change. Through our values of Action and Learning, recognizing the Preciousness of Each Human, Strengthening Each Other, standing in Solidarity with the communities around us, and embodying a “Both-And” perspective, we work towards Repairing the World in this pursuit of Justice. Though working towards systemic change takes time, each of us plays an ongoing role as we together create a broader impact on our world.
Preciousness of Each Human
כבוד הבריותkavod ha’briyot
Anyone who wastes one life in this world, the Torah treats them as though they have wasted a full world, and anyone who saves a life, the Torah treats them as though they have saved an entire world. -Mishneh Sandehrin 4:5
Judaism values that every single human being was created in the image of the Divine. Each person has a unique, inherent value that invites us to consider how we treat those who live under different circumstances than our own. We recognize the unique and infinite value of every person and believe everyone deserves equal rights, dignity, and to be met with generosity. As we seek to create a more equitable and just society, we listen deeply, engage with compassion and empathy, treat all people with civility and humanity, and strive to respect each other’s voices.
Action & Learning
נעשה ונשמעna'aseh v'nishma
Then Moses took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, “All that the Holy One has spoken we will do, and we will hear!” -Exodus 24:7
It is impossible to separate action and learning in the context of Jewish tradition and instruction. Through action, we learn intuitively. We gain awareness of things we could not otherwise know which helps us identify what else we still might need to learn. We take the lead from our partners and communities as we learn, serve, reflect, and act through an anti-racist lens. When we act without learning and reflecting, we risk causing harm or missing blindspots. When we learn without action, we maintain a focus inward that fails to extend beyond ourselves. When we do both, we can have a greater impact as we grow from our successes and failures.