Ever since I was a young child, I was inspired and driven by the responsibility to make a difference to the world around us. There is so much in today’s world which is not as it should be. Although I was soon to realise that there is much in this world that human beings cannot change, I was and remain conscious of the ability and, hence, responsibility of human beings to impact on their society if only they put their mind to doing so. As far as I recall, I associated this drive to change the world with Judaism from a fairly early age.
I was inspired by the messianic vision of a redeemed world. During my teenage years, I read books by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin and by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks which emphasised the themes of human responsibility and the relevance of Judaism and the Jewish people for the whole of humanity. Later on, I read about many non-Jewish authors who had written that the concept of aspiration for a changed and redeemed world is one which humanity owes to the Jews and to traditional Jewish texts.
Like former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, it might be true to say that ‘My concern for justice, for peace, for enlightenment stems from my heritage’. Recently, I discovered the Tag Centre for Jewish Social Values. Tag, under its director, Rabbi Yossi Ives, distinguishes between social action and social ethics. Social action involves engagement in projects to improve society. There are many Jewish groups which are involved in such projects and they do wonderful work. Tag differs in that it seeks to discern from Jewish sources a particular vision of how the world should be and a methodology as to how the vision can be realised. The social action work follows but is based on the ideas that have been derived from traditional Jewish sources. I am very excited to be helping Rabbi Ives with this project. In doing so, I aim to develop my own understanding of Judaic social values and to formulate ideas as to how they can be implemented.
This blog will document my journey down this path. As I proceed, I invite you to add your comments, to challenge or support my ideas and to add your own understanding of the issues I discuss. A couple of years ago, the non-Jewish writer Charles Moore wrote the following about the 350th anniversary of Anglo-Jewry in the Daily Telegraph: “The Jewish concept of mitzvah, on which David Cameron dwelt when he made a speech celebrating the 350 years last week, means a good deed done for its own sake. Such deeds are visible in the importance Jews attach to charity and to education. British society needs a lot more mitzvahs.”
What are these Mitzvot and how can they and their underlying values offer British society what it needs? This is the topic of my investigation. I hope you join me for the journey!
Tag Institute has a sister organisation Tag International Development which deploys unique humanitarian expertise and proven social models to create sustainable solutions for developing countries.
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Tag Institute is a Think Tank and Research Centre that promotes interdisciplinary research integrating insights from Jewish texts and practices with the methods and concepts of the social sciences to create interventions that promote the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and society.