Posted by Aryeh Cohen
A very long time ago, at the eastern end of the Roman Empire, in the Land of Israel, two Rabbis were having a political conversation. It was actually more like an argument. We are able to eavesdrop on the conversation because it was recorded (centuries later) in the Babylonian Talmud (Berachot 61b). The Empire had decreed that teaching Torah in public was forbidden. One of the Rabbis, Pappus ben Yehudah, came across the other Rabbi, Akiva ben Yosef, while the latter was doing exactly that which the government had forbidden. Rabbi Akiva was gathering folks together and teaching them Torah. Pappus was fearful for Akiva’s life. He confronted Akiva, saying: “Akiva, are you not afraid of the government?”
Akiva responded with a longish parable whose essence was: what can the Romans do to me? They can put me in jail and/or they can kill me. However, if I am not studying Torah it is as if I am dead already. I will not imprison myself. If the Romans want to imprison me that is a choice that they will make and be responsible for.
The end of the story is known. Akiva was killed as a martyr. However, there was one more scene before the end. After the Romans arrested Akiva, as he was sitting in jail, Pappus was also arrested and jailed together with Akiva. Pappus, apparently, had not been arrested for teaching Torah and when he saw Akiva he said: “Happy are you, Akiva, that you have been seized for teaching and studying Torah! Alas for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things!”
I have been thinking of nonviolent civil disobedience a lot over the last week or so, specifically in regard to the encampment and eviction of Occupy LA and this story continues to hold my imagination.
The essence of nonviolent civil disobedience is that is poses a challenge to the government or to other institutions. Those who are engaged in civil disobedience are saying that they are following the dictates of their conscience, they are sitting at the lunch counter with everybody else and demanding to be served, they are coming together to voice their concerns to their government. The choice is then placed on the government (which is, of course, supposed to be “of the people”) whether or not to abide that choice. That moment of choice is very clarifying. On the one hand, the government argues that there are laws and those laws need to be followed (e.g. no overnight camping in city parks; no teaching Torah in public spaces). On the other hand, a person or a group of people break that law not violently but by performing an activity which they understand should not be illegal, or an activity whose aim is to focus the attention of the state to a situation which is untenable to their mind. It is at this moment that the government has to decide whether or not to pull back the curtain and reveal the subtext to “the law”: the violence or threat of violence that undergirds the law.
Robert Cover (1943-1986), one of the country’s most influential legal theorists, wrote the following about the violence of the law:
The violence of judges and officials of a posited constitutional order is generally understood to be implicit in the practice of law and government. Violence is so intrinsic to this activity, so taken for granted, that it need not be mentioned. For instance, read the Constitution. Nowhere does it state, as a general principle, the obvious—that the government thereby ordained and established has the power to practice violence over its people. That, as a general proposition, need not be stated for it is understood in the very idea of government. (Narrative, Violence, and the Law: the essays of Robert Cover, p. 214)
This then is the rub. It is only at the moment that the law itself is challenged in action (as opposed to in court) that the violence of the order is laid bare. At times this violence is welcomed. When someone is robbing you, a police officer’s drawn gun might be a welcome sight. However, when people are engaged in nonviolent activity, whose purpose is to convince the country to engage in a wide-ranging conversation about inequality, injustice, the corrupting influence of money on our political system and more—the revealed power of the law in the guise of one thousand four hundred armed officers facing off against three or four hundred unarmed, nonviolent citizens, looks very different. In this latter instance it looks like the decision that the government took was to forcefully stop the exercise of speech, to adopt a martial solution to a civil question. The nonviolent occupiers at that moment, in their decision not to enter into the equation of violence, but to recognize the humanity of those coming against them, chose to expose the limits of tolerance that the government has for uncomfortable conversations.
Cover also says the following:
…martyrdom helps us see what is present in lesser degree whenever interpretation is joined with the practice of violent domination. Martyrs insist in the face of overwhelming force that if there is to be continuing life, it will not be on the terms of the tyrant’s law.
We the people are then afforded the opportunity to see the limits of the law performed in stark and violent terms. It is then—or, rather, now—up to us to decide whether that limit fits with the exercise of the freedoms that our country is built on and our humanity is based on.
6.12.13 at 4:21 pm | In the wake of the Lebanon War (which started 31. . .
6.2.13 at 5:59 pm | For some reason I don’t think that any of the. . .
5.29.13 at 6:09 am | These are the thoughts with which I find myself. . .
5.13.13 at 8:40 am | And yet, we return each year with Sisyphean. . .
5.7.13 at 7:16 pm | The Rabbinic tradition transvalued the warriors. . .
4.23.13 at 5:22 pm |
5.13.13 at 8:40 am | And yet, we return each year with Sisyphean. . . (6)
6.12.13 at 4:21 pm | In the wake of the Lebanon War (which started 31. . . (2)
3.4.12 at 12:59 am | (1)
November 11, 2011 | 10:26 am
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting discussing an upcoming ballot initiative which would eliminate the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Everybody in the room was opposed to the death penalty. The discussion was about the strategy that should be employed to convince voters to make the proposition law. The campaign’s tactic was to argue that the death penalty was more expensive than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP). This is, of course, true. As the LA Times reported:
[An] examination of state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases, conducted over three years by a senior federal judge and a law professor, estimated that the additional costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation for the condemned adds $184 million to the budget each year.
However, sitting in that room, engaging in that conversation, I suddenly got very depressed. I realized how we had all been impacted by the culture of greed that has overwhelmed our country.
I want to make clear that I think that we urgently need to stop our country’s machinery of death and to begin the hard work of justice—reforming our prisons, making victims and/or their families whole, allowing for transgressors to repent and atone (as I argue here). I think that replacing the death penalty with LWOP is a good and important step on the way to accomplishing this. I was reacting to the fact that the parameters of the debate (cheaper is better) are not ones that I agree with and are destructive to the moral fabric of our country and society. Let me explain.
One does not expect to learn Biblical lessons from a politician. However, just a few weeks ago, in an interview with the Wall St. Journal, Herman Cain illustrated an important lesson that the Torah teaches. Cain didn’t teach Torah. Rather he personified the type of person that the Torah warned against. (This is all before he demonstrated his latest moral and political obtuseness.) We find the following in Deuteronomy chapter 8:
Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. … and you say to yourselves, “My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me.”
Cain, referring to the folks at Occupy Wall St., said: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.” What better paraphrase is there of “My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me.”
This narcissistic solipsism of the “winners” (or as Matt Taibi has pointed out, the cheaters) is not limited to one of the Republican candidates—it has taken over our culture in many ways. The most prominent arena in which this happens is the political. All arguments come down to their monetary value.
One of my constant companions nowadays is a rabbi who died over a hundred years ago. Simchah Zissel Ziv was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1824 and eventually became the rabbi of the Lithuanian town of Kelme, as a result of which he is known as the the alter or “elder” of Kelm. He was the student of the founder of the mussar movement in Judaism. This movement stressed the importance of strict ethical behavior in the spirit of Jewish law. Reb Simchah Zissel put his own spin on this school. In the collection of his essays he stresses that the most important prerequisite to living a righteous life is “helping one’s fellow with their burden.” Reb Simchah doesn’t mean this in a metaphorical way. A person has to train themselves towards a radical empathy in order to be able to feel and then to actually respond to the sufferings of another person.
The greatest obstacle to this radical empathy of “helping one’s fellow with their burden” according to Ziv, is greed. Greed, he says, turns all actions and intentions on their head. One wants to give charity, but then, realizing that there is a monetary loss involved, one will invent all manner of justifications for not giving charity, up to and including making not giving charity an ideal (“moral hazard,” “teaching people how to fish,” “pulling up by bootstraps”). Not giving charity becomes in one’s mind the more righteous path. Radical empathy is dependent on being able to respond to another person’s suffering rather than calculating your actions vis a vis another in dollars and cents.
Wealth and greed are not the same. Greed is bad while wealth is neutral. The accumulation of wealth for the purpose of comfort and even luxury, if it is also accompanied by an investment in the well being of society—the assurance that all people reach a threshold of the goods needed to live in dignity— is good. The accumulation of wealth for its own sake—beyond any possible needs of survival then comfort then luxury—at some point turns into an obsession. The wealth becomes an end, a value independent of and overriding other values. In the Jewish tradition this is called idolatry.
The vocabulary of greed has taken over the political culture and has trampled empathy and the claims of justice. Cutting social service programs—which, a study released this week shows, have kept millions of people above the poverty line—in the name of “efficiencies” and “anti-tax pledges” is immoral. Raising the cry of narcissistic solipsism to the level of a moral virtue (“I earned this money all by myself and therefore nobody has any right to it!”) makes the immoral claim of being an island unto oneself, as if one graded the land and poured the concrete and smoothed the blacktop with one’s own hands to get one’s widgets to the markets—as if one has not benefitted from luck and circumstance and the hard work of many who came before, and who toiled independent of one, as if the accident of birth, the economic and geographic circumstances of one who is impoverished are their own doing and their own fault.
The worse thing about this, the thing that had me depressed in that very nice living room with those fine people was that even those of us who are trying to create a more just world, have been impacted by the universe of monetized morals. Should we not be able to argue that the death penalty should be abolished because it is immoral on its own, and not because it is more expensive than the alternative!? Should we not be able to be heard on the issue merely because it is just and right?
October 28, 2011 | 10:37 am
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
One young man in Zuccoti Park in New York, part of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, holds up a sign which boldly declares: “We’re here, we’re unclear, get used to it.” This tongue in cheek message gets to the heart of what is uncomfortable for many in the media and the chattering class about the Occupy movement (OWS and its many many offshoots in all major American cities and many cities around the world). There is an expected, almost ritual nature to American political discourse. There are critiques, followed by demands, supported by emotional anecdotes and statistics, followed by the suggestion of legislative remedies. The chattering class then gets to work vetting these remedies on two levels. First, and most important, is the “horse race” analysis. The political climate will not allow this or the votes are there but only if the opposing party will compromise on this. And so on and so forth. Somewhere farther down, or on the inside pages, the wonks get to work dissecting the numbers. Within a week at most (usually a news cycle), its all old news. Nothing has changed. Perhaps a catch phrase has been added to the stump speech of this or that candidate.
It is very frustrating when a large group of Americans peacefully assemble to air their grievances without participating in these tried and true rituals. When they do not attempt to position themselves behind a candidate or leverage a powerful constituency, but, rather display their disaffection without feeling the need to issue bullet points which any politician or pundit could easily digest and regurgitate. And then they stick around. For a long time. And they do not feel the pressure of the news cycle to make decisions or appoint telegenic spokespeople. They just put up tents, hold long meetings which need to reach a consensus for a decision, put themselves in danger by reclaiming public space and using non-violence as a trigger and a weapon to reveal the repressive reflexes of the financial and political elites. It is maddening.
I would suggest that what is going on, intentionally and unintentionally, is a massive project of rethinking the language, of redefining central terms of our vocabulary. This is a somewhat glacial enterprise which is also, at times baffling. Its been done before. Those efforts also met with resistance and lack of comprehension by those in power (“the 1%”).
First, though, I must digress. In 1961 a fifty six year old French Jewish philosopher by the name of Emmanuel Levinas published a book—a very important though very dense, turgid, even at times opaque book—whose stated purpose was to redefine our philosophical vocabulary so war could not be thought, let alone waged.
Levinas argued that the problem with the western philosophical tradition to his day was that it could not really define or analyze or understand the most important and urgent object of philosophical analysis—another person. The reason for this failure was that philosophy traditionally used categories of thought in order to analyze any and all “objects”—animate and inanimate, people or tables. When I gather information about the world, I categorize it by species and difference. A person is like an animal but it talks. You are like my friend Ralph but you are a woman and way smarter. However, here is the problem. Levinas points out that this is not actually describing another person. What is going on here is that I am putting the other person—Ralph or Emily—into the categories that I have already constructed in my mind. I am not thinking about you as much as I am thinking about me. The basic fact of another person is that they are just that—“other.” Being other means that they are beyond my grasp. I cannot ever completely know another person. Moreover, meeting another person disturbs my very complacency with the way I am in the world—wandering here and there, gathering information, knowing stuff, incorporating all that stuff into my intellectual categories and thereby, in a sense, acquiring more and more of the world through knowing it. When I meet another person this whole paradigm blows up. I have a revelation: I don’t know anything beyond me, therefore I don’t, can’t know you. Once humbled by this revelation, a second revelation follows immediately upon this first one: the only action that I can take in relation to another person is to respond to their needs. I cannot gather them into my growing storehouse of knowledge, because another person is radically different. It is this radical difference which reveals to me that I may not harm this other person and the only interaction that I may have is to respond to him or serve her needs or try to heal their wounds.
Okay, so this is not what happens on an everyday basis as we are walking on the mean streets of our beloved megalopolises—Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Oakland and on. However, that is because we are not seeing the other person as other. We are seeing them as ourselves. “Oh, I know that type.” “I know what she’s going to say.” “I know what he’s going to do.” This is a bit confusing because we are taught to think that the way to get beyond hatred is not to think of somebody as other. Aren’t we all the same?!
Levinas’ most powerful insight is exactly this: each person is radically different and cannot be fully grasped by the preconceived categories that I store in my mind, and therefore is not interchangeable with other people that I already have stored in my mind. This makes life difficult. How would the pollsters ever be able to tell us that 74% of consumers like the SUV with 12 cupholders better than the one with 9 cupholders but an extra apartment in the rear, if they had to actually see each person as an individual? This would be even more challenging for the general who wanted to capture the hill and knew that there would be 7% percent casualties. Would he be able to give the order if instead of thinking of a mass of interchangeable soldiers who are cogs in a massive machine, he thought of each soldier as a person with their own families and narratives and desires. How would we be able to tell a coherent narrative of heroism if the overriding focus was not on the narrative which sweeps us all together? If each person was recognized in their infinite complexity, the machine would grind to a halt. Every person would be recognized as being the focus of a narrative, rather than the extra who can get blown up as the opening credits for the latest Bruce Willis flik roll across the screen. The more we focus on the complexity and difference of each person, the less we can see all people as a mass of indistinguishable statistics. We begin to see each individual as singular, as someone to whom I must respond and must nor harm. I slowly begin to distinguish the cashier from the cash register. I recognize the infinite demand for justice in the face of the homeless guy sitting on the park bench and also in the face of the banker who blithely walks past him. If we truly begin to see, we will not be able to mobilize people as cogs in a machine for the purposes of war—or for any purpose which makes of unique individuals an indistinguishable mass of humanity.
Once we begin to recognize the infinite worth of another person, the rationale behind the sentiment that we are fighting a war so there will be peace falls apart. The narrative which ends in peace, that will make sense of all the lives lost in the wars, is deconstructed by the infinitely complex narrative of each person involved in those wars. A narrative which equally focuses on every character loses all coherence. This is the point. It is the other person who is worthwhile, not the narrative. When the vocabulary of war is incoherent we will have peace.
This discourse changes slowly, with great effort. When the Memphis sanitation workers struck in 1968, they carried signs saying “I am a Man,” because the white culture did not believe them.
Getting from here to there is, however, almost absurdly messy. In one version, people take tents and sleep out on public land and listen to each other for hours a day, and then carry messages of their individual discontent to the people whose corporations are grounded in practices which are dependent on treating these individuals as an indistinguishable mass of humanity—as “human capital,” or the “consumer market,” or “collateral damage.”
Democracy, though is actually a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Photo credit: Jeffrey H. Campagna
October 19, 2011 | 5:07 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
This past Sunday, I had the privilege and pleasure of teaching Torah on the streets of Los Angeles. Specifically on Spring Street between First and Temple, on the east side of City Hall, amongst the community of hundreds that calls itself Occupy LA. A coalition of several people with and without organizational affiliations felt the need to be present and to establish a Jewish communal presence among the growing movement of people who were frustrated by and angry at the many injustices that are plaguing this country. We sent out a call and the response was energizing. In five days we had over a hundred people who were committed to attending.
And so, on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, on the eighteenth day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, Tishrei, I stood before the assembled crowd and laid out texts and offered Torah. Here is a fuller version of what I wanted to teach.
The Biblical story of Sodom is one of the more disturbing stories in the Torah. Two messengers of God come to Sodom to save Lot, Abraham’s nephew, from the destruction of the town, which they are to destroy themselves—or have some part in its destruction by God. What is the sin of the town that is so great that it merits the town’s obliteration? The opening of the story frames the sin of Sodom as xenophobia.
The two messengers come to Sodom and are greeted by Lot. He welcomes them and implores them to stay with him and enjoy his hospitality. This opening scene is reminiscent of Abraham’s welcoming of the messengers in the previous chapter. Once they settle in to Lot’s house, the story turns darker. The townspeople come to Lot’s door and demand that he produce the strangers so that they may “know” them. They are, in effect, demanding that Lot hand over the strangers to be raped and killed. (This is actually what happens in the parallel story of the concubine of Gibea in Judges 19.) Lot steadfastly refuses to hand over those who are under his roof. However, he immediately offers his daughters instead. Luckily for all involved the messengers are angels and they blind the townspeople and save Lot, his daughters and themselves from a violent death.
The sin of Sodom in the story seems to be a form of radical xenophobia. When Lot refuses to hand over the strangers, the townspeople turn on him, branding him also as an outsider. However, if we continue with the textual history of Sodom we find that the prophets understand their sin as greed, arrogance and lack of care for the poor and needy. The prophet Ezekiel (16:49) channels God as saying the following:
Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom: arrogance! She and her daughter had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquillity; yet she did not support the poor and the needy.
Sodom is described in Genesis 13 as lush and fertile. The sin of Sodom was that they hoarded their resources and ignored the poor and needy. Isaiah (chapter one) understands Sodom in the same manner when he derisively refers to the people of Israel as “chieftains of Sodom” and “folk of Gomorrah” because they do not “devote [themselves] to justice; aid the wronged, uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow.” Furthermore “Their rulers are rogues and cronies of thieves, every one avid for presents and greedy for gifts; they do not judge the case of the orphan, and the widow’s cause never reaches them.”
The Rabbis take this one step further. In the third century Chapters of the Fathers (5:10), a collection of Rabbinic wisdom, we find the following:
There are four [character] types:
One who says “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours” this is a mediocre type;
and some say this is the character of Sodom.
“What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine,” this is an ignorant person.
“What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours,” this is a righteous person
“What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine,” this is an evil person.
Why, according to some, is the one who argues for private property, for strong boundaries, who says “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours” considered the character of Sodom—a Sodomite? He is not ignorant, or evil. She is not righteous. Is she better or worse than the evil person? I would suggest that in the Rabbinic understanding of Sodom, the one who says “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours,” and lives according to this motto as a strong statement, is worse than the evil person who is “merely” a thief.
The Rabbinic understanding of Sodom comes across in this statement by Rabbi Levi in the (approximately fifth century) midrashic collection, Genesis Rabba (Parashah 49:10).
[God said:] “Even if I wanted to keep silent [about Sodom], the requirement of justice for a certain girl will not allow me to keep silent.” There was the case of two girls, who went down to draw water from the well. One said to her friend, “Why are you pale?” The other said, “All the food is gone from our house and we are ready to die.“ What did the other do? She filled the jug with flour and exchanged it for her own. Each took the one of the other. When the Sodomites found out about it, they took the girl (who had shared the food) and burned her. Said the Holy One of Blessing, “Even if I wanted to keep silent, the requirement of justice for a certain girl will not allow me to keep silent.”
God explains that God was forced to intervene in Sodom because things had gotten so out of hand that sharing one’s flour with a poor person was considered a capital offense. The sin of Sodom finally was that miserliness, private property, “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours,” was elevated to the level of a religious or moral virtue and those who abrogated it, those who shared with the poor, were deemed worthy of capital punishment.
The sukkah as a concrete object and as a metaphor is almost diametrically opposed to the kind of community represented by Sodom.
The sukkah, as both an object and a metaphor, suggest a mode of living which is outward directed, generous, responsive to the needs of others and embraces our interdependency. The sukkah in the details of its construction and in its symbolism celebrates permeable boundaries in which our individual identities are not threatened by the existence of others, nor are they dependent on building borders and boundaries.
The Levitical command to build a sukkah emphasizes that the sukkah memorializes the Israelites sojourn in the desert. “In huts you shall dwell seven days. All natives in Israel shall dwell in huts, so that your generations will know that I made the Israelites dwell in huts when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23) During the desert trek, Israel was completely dependent on God for sustenance, it was a time of absolute fragility. This is the first layer of the symbolism of the sukkah. The Rabbis take the sukkah one step further. In outlining the details of its construction the Mishnah opens with the following (Mishnah Sukkah 1:1):
If a sukkah is above twenty cubits [cubit is approximately 22”] in height, it is invalid, but Rabbi Yehudah declares it valid; and if it is not (at least) ten handbreadths [a handbreadth is approximately 3.6”] in height or has not three sides or if its unshaded part is greater than its shaded part, it is invalid.
In the case of an “old” sukkah, the School of Shammai declare it invalid but the School of Hillel declare it valid. And what is considered an “old sukkah”? Any which was constructed thirty days before the Festival of Tabernacles; but if it were made expressly for the Festival of Tabernacles, even at the beginning of the year, it is valid.
According to the anonymous opinion (which is accepted as the law) a sukkah cannot be more than approximately thirty six and a half feet high. Everybody agrees that it must be at least three feet tall, have three sides and its roof must provide shade. In other words, the sukkah cannot be an overly imposing structure whose impermanence and fragility is not readily obvious; it must be habitable by an adult; it need not be enclosed nor can it be totally cut off from the elements.
In addition, a sukkah must be newly constructed each year. The intention being that the feeling of impermanence, displacement, vulnerability must also be fresh and not jaded.
When one moves into the sukkah, one moves into a structure which does not protect one from the human or natural environment. It is a structure all of whose boundaries are permeable, and therefore is welcoming to others, to strangers. It is a structure which is not secure and therefore assumes the righteousness of others—that other people do not necessarily want to do you harm. Interestingly enough, there is no blessing for building a sukkah, only a blessing for sitting in a sukkah. The assumption is that everybody will inhabit a sukkah, but that not everybody will buildtheir own sukkah and therefore sharing dwellings, opening one’s dwelling to others is built into the structure of the ritual.
Finally, as a celebration of this aspect of sukkot the mystical custom of welcoming ushphizin, ancestor-guests, into the sukkah every night developed. This has become one of the animating rituals in sukkot everywhere to this day.
If, then, we look upon our sukkot as a metaphor or a vision for a community, it is a community which is built upon generosity, hospitality and the sharing or resources.
There is a tradition which can be traced to the Pesikta deRab Kahana that in the end of days the righteous will have a share in the sukkah of Sodom. This is the sukkah of Abraham (whose tentflaps were open to the four directions to welcome strangers) which will overcome the sin of Sodom.
And so, this is the starkest form of the choice that faces us. Do we want to build a society in which private ownership is elevated to the level of a moral value and greed is celebrated at the expense of caring for the needy? Or do we want to work together to build a “sukkot society” of generosity, interdependence, sharing and ultimately peace and wholeness? A sukkat shalom.
Yesterday on the streets of Los Angeles, surrounding City Hall, I saw a community of people from varied and divergent places who were learning how to build a society in which everybody’s voice counted, in which caring and generosity were at the center of the community. The people at OLA were angry at the gross income disparity (which is larger than in either Egypt or Tunisia), at the impunity of the financial markets, at the fact that working people were facing foreclosure while the bankers who hold their notes and almost brought the country to bankruptcy are not facing anything. However, the “platform” of the OLA community as far as I could tell was that we can have a different society, a society based on generosity and equitable distribution of resources. “Here,” they say, “we are doing it.”
Photo credits: Jonathan Klein, Sarah Newman
October 19, 2011 | 4:08 pm
Posted by Aryeh Cohen
This blog will be about the intersection and intertwining of Judaism and social justice. It is called Justice in the City: Thinking About Judaism and Social Justice. I hope that the pieces are thoughtful and rise above the level of cliches and platitudes, and attempt to explore and articulate a somewhat more interesting and thoughtful understanding of Social Justice which is grounded in the Jewish tradition, but will hopefully resonate outwards.
The thinking in this blog is based in the research and thinking that I did while writing my book Justice in the City: Toward a Community of Obligation, soon to be published by Academic Studies Press.