Social Justice / TBS Tzedek 

Temple Beth Shalom is a community that is committed to the pursuit of “Tzedek” – “Righteousness.”

 

We believe that all peoples – regardless of faith, race, national, ethnic or gender identity, or socio-economic background – have been created in the Divine image and are therefore worthy of honor.

 

As individuals and as a community, we stand against intolerance and hatred. As individuals and as a community, we promote causes and engage in action that leads to a more just society.

 

As a community, we inspire our members to engage in activism (through legislation, education, and social awareness) that will help to achieve the goal of greater justice for all.

To get involved or for more information, please contact Rabbi Julie Bressler (jbressler@tbsneedham.org).

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To do this, Temple Beth Shalom is proud to sponsor “TBS Tzedek” – a social justice program for our community. “TBS Tzedek” enables our community to identify societal issues that are important to us as a congregation. We do research and learn about these issues. We explore how Jewish values call upon us to respond. We organize specific actions for justice and we join with other mission-aligned organizations and communities to leverage power through partnership. In 2018, TBS became a “Brit Olam” congregation, joined in partnership with other congregations through the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to engage our community in conversation and activism.

Organizing as a Community

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TBS is a “Big Tent” Community. A strength of the Temple Beth Shalom community is its diversity of opinion. “TBS Tzedek” is not bound to a single political philosophy, party, or approach. TBS remains a “big tent” community that encourages the respectful sharing of differing ideas. As part of its mission, TBS Tzedek creates community platforms for conversation, promotes open and honest discussion, encourages the sharing of the ideas of many, and calls for thoughtful listening to the perspectives of others. Throughout our work, TBS Tzedek invites feedback, questions, and suggestions from our entire community. Thus, TBS Tzedek seeks to deepen understanding, awareness, and perspective.

Our "Communal Ethic for Activism"

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Temple Beth Shalom works to develop power through partnership with other congregations and organizations whose social justice/civil rights missions are in alignment with our own. Coming from Jewish, interfaith, and secular backgrounds, these organizations provide information, expertise, experience, insight, strategic advice, and ultimately the power to make a difference that is beyond the scope of any single community of action. Currently, “TBS Tzedek” is learning from and, in some cases, actively partnering with the following organizations:

 

  1. Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement (RAC)

  2. Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)

  3. Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO)

  4. Tzedek Reflection (A social justice consortium of over 30 congregations in the Boston area)

  5. Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)

  6. The Needham Clergy Association (NCA)

  7. Needham Social Action Network

  8. Progressive Needham

We will seek partnership with other congregations and organizations as opportunities arise.

Strength Through Partnership

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As a congregation, our three areas of activity will involve:

 

  1. Education (teaching our community and each other about issues, causes, and the Jewish wisdom that calls upon us to act)

  2. Activism (engaging in specific acts as a community that will make a difference), and

  3. Community Conversation (structuring healthy discussion, dialogue, and debate in which our TBS members listen to and grow through varying perspectives).

The three “justice” arenas that TBS Tzedek is currently focusing upon are:

  1. Building Jewish-Christian-Muslim Interfaith Relationships

  2. Immigration/Refugee Justice

  3. Gun Violence Prevention

Opportunities to Get Involved

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There is work being done to support relationships between TBS members and members of other faith traditions.

 

  • Daughters of Abraham is an ongoing book and discussion group that brings together women of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds to build relationships and learn about one another's faith traditions through facilitated discussions. If you would like to be involved, please contact Stacey Smalley at interfaith@tbsneedham.org.

  • TBS youth, grades 7-12, are encouraged to participate in Kids4Peace Boston, an interfaith program that brings together Jewish, Muslim, and Christian teens from across MetroWest to learn together, form relationships, and build leadership skills. If your teen is interested in learning more about this program, please contact Rabbi Julie Bressler at jbressler@tbsneedham.org.

To get involved with Building Jewish-Muslim-Christian Interfaith Relationships Action Group, please contact Stacey Smalley at interfaith@tbsneedham.org.

"You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman, but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Eternal" (Leviticus 19:17-18).

Building Jewish-Muslim-Christian Interfaith Relationships

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Judaism teaches us that everyone is entitled to dignity and honor. In the face of harsh and punitive federal immigration policy, the Reform Movement is mobilizing to advocate for just and compassionate policies toward undocumented immigrants. Tzedek is currently working on legislative actions such as supporting passage of the "Safe Communities Act". Contact tzedek@tbsneedham.org for more information.

Leviticus 19:34 tells us, "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

Immigration/Refugee Justice

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Tzedek is committed to gun violence prevention as a Jewish value. We, as Reform Jews, cannot stand by and watch as thousands of people are directly impacted by gun violence year after year. Taking action to prevent gun violence will save countless innocent lives. Contact tzedek@tbsneedham.org to get involved.

Leviticus 19:16 tells us, "do not stand idly by while your neighbor's blood is shed." The Talmud teaches us that "he who takes one life, it as though he destroyed the universe, and he who saves one life, it is as though he has saved the universe" (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

Gun Violence Prevention

Temple Beth Shalom

670 Highland Ave, Needham, MA 02494
781-444-0077

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