In my article for the May issue of SJN, I invited readers to consider the ‘greatest mitzvot’ and to reflect on the Jewish teachings that we feel are most crucial for our lives. This month I invite you to consider not, particular mitzvot, but rather a framework of three compelling commitments, each one with a particularist and a universalist dimension, which embrace the whole of Jewish teaching. I offer these compelling commitments as a manifesto for Jewish engagement by individuals and communities, regardless of differing denominations, affiliations and non-affiliations.
One: Embracing Jewish Teaching and engaging with knowledge in the wider world
The commitment to nurture and cultivate our own Jewish lives and the life of the Jewish people as a whole, by continuing to learn and engage with the Torah, with our Jewish stories, teachings and traditions, and by participating in the various ritual acts, which celebrate Life with Jewish flavours, colours and tones.
And: The commitment to engage with the accumulating wisdom of the world, to study and to learn about the major developments in human knowledge, and to find ways of ensuring that the developing wisdom of humanity in all its dimensions connects with and informs Jewish teaching.
Two: Sustaining the Jewish Community and repairing the world
The commitment to honour both those that have gone before us and those who are yet to be born, by becoming links in the chain of the generations of our people, and by maintaining, restoring and re-creating Jewish communal life in Britain, in Israel, and throughout the world.
And: The commitment to love not only our neighbours, but also the stranger in our midst; to liberate the oppressed, protect the vulnerable, and support the fallen; to pursue justice and to seek peace; to participate in the great task of Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world.
Three: The Eternal is our God and The Eternal is One
The commitment to explore the meaning of existence, to journey, to search, and to listen out for the voice of the Eternal, who calls each Jew to become part of Am Yisrael, the people who ‘struggle with God’, and to strive to sanctify Life each day through our actions and our relationships.
And: The commitment to acknowledge that the Eternal is One, and to work together with all the peoples of the world to recognise the essential unity of existence in all its diversity.
So, what do you think? Do you identify with these compelling commitments? Would you like to make them your own? Can we all work together to build a better future for the Jewish people?