Dispatches from Tikkun Olam Institute 2011: Day 2

{Day 1 post here}

By Myriam Gurba

The second day of the Tikkun Olam Institute, on Thursday 16 June, this meat and potatoes day promptly began at ten  a.m. with Krispy Kremes and orange juice at Long Beach’s Alpert Jewish Community Center (AJCC). As youth from Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange Counties packed a conference table, Rabbi Drew conducted a brief brainstorming session on the meaning of tikkun olam and a discussion of agricultural laws as they relate to giving to the poor.

Carie Rael speaking about Darfur

Carie Rael speaking about Darfur

Student Carie Rael, of California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), followed with a discussion of Sudan Action Now. This organization’s goals include pressuring the Obama administration and Congress into participating in the Darfur peace process, democratizing Sudan, and stepping up humanitarian aid to areas affected by the war in Sudan. She provided links for students to engage in online activism.

Rabbi Dov Fischer speaking on "Tzedakah: A Jewish Imperative"

Rabbi Dov Fischer speaking on "Tzedakah: A Jewish Imperative"

After Ms. Rael, the rabbi parade began! Rabbi Dov Fischer, of Young Israel of Orange County, appeared first, addressing the importance of tzedakah. He led a conversation identifying instances of tzedakah, just and righteous behavior, in the context of everyday philanthropy. He gave personal, micro-examples of helping members of  his shul, demonstrating that tikkun olam need not be a large-scale, sweeping action but something as interpersonal and simple as providing a needy traveler with gas money. “Rabbi Fischer was an impressive speaker,” said Jay Alhadeff. “I enjoyed him.”

Rabbi Perlmuter speaking on “Chasidism & Tikkun Olam”

Rabbi Abba Perlmuter of Long Beach’s Shul by the Shore, arrived next. After poking a little fun at the stereotypic world repairing act, saving the whales, Rabbi Perelmuter launched into a series of stories on Chasidism’s relationship to tikkun olam. His tales of Chasidism’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov, emphasized sharing, kindness, and how expressing love for one’s fellow Jew matters more than vain expressions of love for God. Rabbi Perelmuter closed by imploring Jews to treat one another with, at the very least, the same respect and dignity shown to the foods on the Shabbat table.  “He was funny,” said Alysia Love, of California Academy of Math and Science. “I really appreciated Rabbi Perelmuter’s enthusiasm.”

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman leading a discussion on the mitzvah of lending money

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman leading a discussion on the mitzvah of lending money

Rabbi Yehuda Hausman spoke third. He discussed the mitzvah of lending. He emphasized that, though charity matters, lending is a more righteous act. Lending preserves dignity by preventing destitution. To underscore this point, Rabbi Hausman broke students into teams where they had to debate a series of financial predicaments involving giving versus lending money. Students then read Jewish texts and argued about what course of action to take for each case. Ultimately, Rabbi Hausman’s message, that preventative giving is powerful philanthropy because it creates indebtedness, came through loud and clear.  “I appreciated the interesting philosophical and biblical texts that Rabbi Housman brought,” said Jonathan Bowles-Mitchell, a student at Long Beach City College.

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein speaking on Tikkun Olam in Los Angeles

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein speaking on Tikkun Olam in Los Angeles

Time for a listening break came and Rabbi Kaplan led a carpool to the Pico-Robertson district of Los Angeles for some kosher eats, Judaica shopping, and an informal chat with Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, director of JConnectLA and Jewlicious Festivals. Pastries were purchased and then it was back to Rabbi Kaplan’s for the day’s final and most alliterative session: “Beer, Bible, and Baked Goods.”

Using religious and political texts, Rabbi

Rabbi Osnat Margalith leading a discussion on Being a Light Unto the Nations

Rabbi Osnat Margalith leading a discussion on Being a Light Unto the Nations

Osnat Margalith, of Orange County’s Shira Hadasha. led a discussion on the concept of Or LaGoyim or “light unto the nations.” She challenged listeners to consider whether or not this concept indicates Jewish exceptionalism or simply massive responsibility, the responsibility of taking care of the world.  Eve Selfridge, of Goldenwest College, said, “Who else would take on such responsibilities but Jews? The acceptance of that is what I think it means to be a Jew.”

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About Rabbi Drew

The current SoCal Jewish Student Services Rabbi.
This entry was posted in Programs, SoCalJSS. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dispatches from Tikkun Olam Institute 2011: Day 2

  1. Pingback: Dispatches from Tikkun Olam Institute 2011: Day 3 | SoCal Jewish Student Services

  2. insecticide says:

    Pathetic Paganist pseudo-Judaism

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