Comment: Social action is now the norm

By Daniel Reisel, December 2, 2010

For many years, the Jewish community was more concerned with its survival and continuity than an outward-looking purpose.

But in a recent study asking 18-to-25 year-olds what it means to be Jewish, 82 per cent responded: "Making the world a better place."

Why is it that many young Jews now consider social justice an integral part of their specifically Jewish identity?

Limmud has been an important contributing factor to this change, creating a space to explore social justice themes but anchoring them in tradition and Jewish history. These themes are given equal prominence as sessions on Israel, Torah and Jewish history, rather than a typically lesser status in the programme.

This has made topics which may have once been seen as only for "certain types of Jews" far more mainstream and an important part of what it means to be Jewish in modern day Britain.

There are more than 150 sessions on social action topics at this year's conference, as many as on any of the more "traditional" topics of Jewish interest.

Over the past decade, Limmud's events have been inked in the calendars of the community's social activists educators, for campaigning, networking, raising the profile of organisations, issues and campaigns and for open and safe debate on complex issues.

It is a hub for different social activists from across the community and around the Jewish world to meet, inspire and learn from one another.

But more importantly, it can can inspire participants of all ages to be actively engaged in social justice as part of their Jewish journeys.

And that, if we listen to what the next generation of Jews are telling us, is a way to deepen commitment to Jewish life and values.

Daniel Reisel is education chair at the Jewish Human Rights organisation RenéCassin and a participant and presenter at Limmud.

Last updated: 1:28pm, December 2 2010