A diverse collection of contemporary Jewish thought leaders delves into the weekly Torah portions, drawing key connections between the biblical text and the most pressing social justice issues of our day.
New York, NY – November 2021 – CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, is honored to announce its newest publication, The Social Justice Torah Commentary. Edited by Rabbi Barry H. Block of Congregation B’nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas, the volume includes an introduction by Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, PhD, the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Provost at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and an afterword by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The Social Justice Torah Commentary demonstrates the continued relevance of the Torah as inspiration for furthering activism and progressive values. Each Torah portion is linked to a contemporary social justice issue, with authors exploring such topics as climate change, mass incarceration, immigration, systemic racism, disability, voting rights, and reproductive justice. Ideal for weekly Torah study, the volume also serves as a vital, timely guide for those committed to tikkun olam, repairing the world.
“I set out to edit The Social Justice Torah Commentary so that students of Torah could find motivation to engage in tikkun olam and Jewish activists could find grounding in sacred text,” said Rabbi Block. “I am grateful to the contributors—scholars who are deeply engaged in social justice work—for bringing their amazing insights to readers.”
“Week after week, our rabbis—the sages of our era—provide us with Torah vision, teaching, and guidelines for how to respond to today’s crises and remind us of the imperative to put what we learn into concrete efforts for change. What an extraordinary compilation,” said Ruth W. Messinger, global ambassador for the American Jewish World Service. “Have you been challenged by others telling you the Torah has nothing useful to say about the most serious problems of our time? Tell them to think again, and buy this book.”
The anthology brings together a wide variety of Jewish leaders from across denominations. Among them are Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of Women of Reform Judaism; Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah of New York City, the world’s largest historically LGBTQ synagogue; Rabbi Sandra Lawson, director of racial diversity and inclusion for Reconstructing Judaism; Rabbi Noa Sattath, Executive Director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, the author of seventeen books on Jewish ethics and president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Hallelujah! With profound insight and invigorating courage, this volume shines the light of the Torah on the urgent issues of our time,” said Rabbi Rachel Timoner, senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, New York. “Here we have many of the most admired and trusted rabbinic voices of our generation grounding today’s essential redemption work in the eternal wisdom of our tradition. I need this book, and you do too.”
“The Social Justice Torah Commentary exemplifies the CCAR’s commitment to using the Torah’s wisdom to guide our pursuit of justice,” said Rabbi Hara Person, chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. “We hope it will inspire readers throughout the Jewish community to take action for many years to come.”
The book is the second Rabbi Block has edited for CCAR Press, following The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life, finalist for the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice category. The Social Justice Torah Commentary is available at socialjustice.ccarpress.org.
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