Apr 27, 2010
Whereas, we are proud that the State of Israel responded so generously and effectively to the medical and personal needs of thousands of displaced, injured, hungry and homeless people;
Whereas involvement in the larger world community and concern for the welfare of all humans is fundamental to our Torah values as we are commanded to emulate God Whose “compassion is for all He has made." (Psalms 145:9); and
Whereas, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik articulates the essential obligation of Jews to bear responsibility for universal concerns, as he writes in “Confrontation,” (Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought, 1964 volume 6, #2):
If the relationship of the non-Jewish to the Jewish world had conformed to the divine arrangement for one human being to meet the other on the basis of equality, friendship and sympathy, the Jew would have been able to become fully involved together with the rest of humanity in the cosmic confrontation. His covenantal uniqueness and his additional mandate to face another faith community as a member of a different community of the committed would not have interfered in the least with his readiness to and capability of joining the cultural enterprise of the rest of humanity. There is no contradiction between coordinating our cultural activity with all men and at the same time confronting them as members of another faith community… The limited role we played until modern times in the great cosmic confrontation was not of our choosing. Heaven knows that we never encouraged the cruel relationship which the world displayed toward us. We have always considered ourselves an inseparable part of humanity and we were ever ready to accept the divine challenge, milu et ha'aretz v'kivshu'ha, "Fill the earth and subdue it," and the responsibility implicit in human existence. We have never proclaimed the philosophy of contemptus or odium seculi. We have steadily maintained that involvement in the creative scheme of things is mandatory.
…We, created in the image of God, are charged with responsibility for the great confrontation of man and the cosmos. We stand with civilized society shoulder to shoulder over against an order which defies us all.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America resolves:
• That we affirm the social responsibility shown by the general world community during this crisis and urge the Jewish community to continue its vigilance and determination to come to the aid of all who are in distress.
• To urge its member rabbis to continue to educate their communities in their synagogues, schools and institutions to refine their ethical and compassionate sensibilities, to develop their instincts of kindness and compassion for all, to learn and affirm those texts that value the image of God in which all humans are created, and to study, value, and put into practice those laws that call upon us to come to the aid of our families and our communities, while at the same time viewing “ourselves an inseparable part of humanity” and affirming the “responsibility implicit in human existence.”
• To call upon its members to ensure that they should not only be involved in specifically Jewish and Israeli causes, but that their institutions also respond to crises of a more universal nature when indicated by world and local events; that throughout each year these institutions sponsor general campaigns, offer at least one class or program that educates their constituents in areas of first aid and other emergency responses so as to train them to be prepared to respond personally to the needs of the Jewish and general communities, compose sermons, classes, and other programs intended to address general needs and concerns (blood drives, clothing and food drives, domestic violence awareness, etc.), and that our members affiliate with at least one social service agency or program that serves the needs of the general community.