As many of you know, the Jewish tenets of social justice (tzedek), acts of loving-kindness (chesed), and global repair (tikun olam) are central to my understanding of what it means to be a Jew in the world today and certainly core to my own Jewish identity and rabbinate. As such, I am so honored to be a part of the American Jewish World Service’s 2013 Rabbinic Delegation, joining 16 other Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis selected from around North America. Our delegation will be travelling to Lucknow, India for second half of July, where we will experience first-hand the power of grassroots development and explore issues of social justice and global responsibility from the perspective of Jewish texts and tradition. Our group will be working at Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra (SSK), an AJWS-supported NGO devoted to fighting prejudice, urging local community leaders to advocate for the rights of oppressed people, and educating members of the Dalit (untouchables) communities about their rights so that they can take steps to realize them. Just preparing for this trip has already been quite an experience! Each morning, we will work in partnership with SSK helping to construct and repair various water and food preparation systems so the community (in particular the area school) has access to clean water and sanitary food preparation. The afternoons will be spent meeting with community representatives. The evenings involve intensive Jewish text study and processing. We depart on Sunday, July 21st and return on Friday, August 2nd. While away, I will not have access to phone or email, but I look forward to sharing stories and insights from my work during the high holy days, as well as at other moments.
In the meantime, to learn more about AJWS, check out their website at AJWS.org
Much gratitude to all of you for the support and encouragement!
Rabbi Wendi Geffen