How might Jewish tradition refract an ethos for the kind of commitments we want to make and the actions we want to take to improve our shared society? For whom are we responsible? What do we need to know about ethics, power, and action before we make those decisions? To address these enduring questions, we will look to classical and contemporary Jewish wisdom, to see what it might offer us as we work toward creating a more just world.
Week 1: How big is our story?
What brought us here together? In what way does personal history become collective history? Can the past, or larger narratives, “make a claim” on us? What is your story? What is our shared story, and who is in it?
Week 2: For whom am I responsible?
Who is in my community, and for whom am I supposed to care? Am I obligated to care about some people more than others? What do I do when my heart tells me to care?
Week 3: How Do I Wield Power?
How can I be a good person in the face of inequity? Is it easier to make the change we seek when we are weak or when we are strong? What are the ethical risks in both scenarios?
Week 4: What power do our words hold?
How might the words we use empower us or shape our experience in the world?
Week 5: How do we include or exclude?
What types of boundaries exist in my inner, middle, and outer circles? Are boundaries ever helpful? What role do I play in maintaining them?
Week 6: When are we complicit?
How is justice/injustice a part of my story? How can I be a good person in a place that feels hypocritical and for the powerful?
Week 7: How might we live with paradox?
How can we hold multiple, competing truths as true? What do we do when people we love disagree with us? What do we do when people we don’t love disagree with us?
Week 8: Can heartbreak help us heal?
How do we speak out when it’s hard? How can we protest? Can love, or heartbreak, motivate us to make changes? How can we be nurtured or exhausted by feelings of empathy?
Week 9: Do we actually have any power?
In real life, though, can I actually make a difference? If the world is big and I am one person, where do I begin? Is it worth it?
Week 10: What’s next?
Now that we’ve spent these 10 weeks digging in, what do I do next? How do I make an impact on the world? When the going gets tough, how do I keep going?