A Jewish Pespective

The Desert Interfaith Council invites contributions to this website topic - these contributions should be sent to nicolas.behrmann@splitrockstrategies.com with the subject "faith Perspectives on Social Justice"

A Jewish Perspective on Social Justice- Contributed by Rabbi Nicolas L. Behrmann, a retired Rabbi.

Gemilut Hasadim -One of the three pillars of our commitment to Jewish Values, the others are the study of Jewish Tradition, and Transformative Prayer.

Gemilut Hasadim –translates as Acts of loving-kindness,” with a synonym being Tikkun Olam, “Fixing the World and includes social justice, environmental protection, and all forms of global improvement.”

Tikkun Olam –“Being socially conscious, social justice. We not only see to it that all the members of our congregation are cared for when they are sick, when they are mourning, when they are elderly, when they are lonely, when they are poor, but also those in our neighborhood (in the community of Palm Springs and outlining communities). What can we do as Jews and as a community? What can we do to make this world a better place? It’s not only issues of financial hardship and health, but also issues like gun control and it’s religious dialog. Feeding the hungry is also community outreach. Talking about gun violence is community outreach.

Economic Well Being in the Coachella, Morongo and YuccaValleys

The Economy of the Coachella, Morongo, and Yucca Valleys is based on the enhanced quality of life offered to affluent residents and visitors to the area, but is dependent upon those who make this quality of life experience possible while they themselves are experiencing economic challenges to their own quality of life, i.e. housing costs and homelessness, subsidized school meal programs, access to health care, etc.

The primary focus must be on the economic well-being of the individual, and the community: Economic well-being defined as enabling the less fortunate to obtain the skills and opportunity to be productive members of our society. In support of that premise, social action also entails working to be part of an economically sound local community. Such a community would have the resources to create and sustain programs for the training and retraining of its citizens so that they become and remain productive wage-earning members of our local community.

The role of the Faith Community in Achieving Social Justice

The Faith community of the Coachella Valley holds the potential for strong advocacy for social justice concerns arising out a religious foundation, and for the development and delivery of programs that address various aspects of the quality of life in the Valley. Religious tolerance and respect for ethnic and life-style diversity should be a vital goal of a network of faith communities that share social justice goals and programs.

Faith Community Organization Effectiveness

There is a critical need for the faith community to be an effective social action delivery system: Clarity of purpose and specific targets for accomplishments are key to the success of the faith community organization: strategic planning, business process improvement, project management and volunteer management are all disciplines that can be applied to the faith based non-profit to increase the effectiveness of the organization and add value to the donor’s investment in the goals and purposes of the programs.

Volunteer Development

Vital to the faith community organizations and their success is the wellbeing and satisfaction of their volunteers. While Volunteers are the mainstay of the non-profit organization, their effectiveness is dependent upon appropriate matching of the volunteer with the assigned tasks, and the training appropriate to the organization’s goals and the specific tasks. From the volunteer perspective, one’s volunteering experience and satisfaction are dependent upon both knowing one’s skills/interest and finding an appropriate match in a non-profit and its productive tasks.

Where could we start?

The initial activities of the Social Action Focus would be learning about the specific social justice needs of our Coachella, Morongo and Yucca Valley communities.

1. Should conduct a survey of Desert Interfaith Council members to determine where our members are already involved.

2. Should collaborate with the various non-profit organizations to understand the serviced and under serviced populations.

3. Should introduce to the Desert Interfaith Council traditional Judeo-Christian, Islamic and other faith community sources through various program efforts.

4. Should identify social justice resources in city, state, and federal government, and if such a directory exists, publicize it within the congregation on an On-Going basis.

5. Based on all of the above, the Desert Interfaith Council should sponsor and host valley wide conference(s) on those social justice needs seem the least addressed in our community.