In praise of tikkun olam

In praise of tikkun olam

As co-presidents of the National Council of Jewish Women, Bergen County Section, we would like to express our strong support for the Aug. 5 comments of Rabbi Eric Yoffie on the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world) to Judaism.

In contrast, Joel Alperson’s op-ed advocates that the survival of Judaism is mainly based on study and prayer, and he minimizes the importance of tikkun olam.

Rabbi Yoffie notes that we must embrace both Jewish education and Jewish practice and tikkun olam and social justice. “To do one without the others is to retreat from the world and distort Judaism’s very essence.”

We maintain that tikkun olam is integral to the tenets of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Judaism alike; no more and no less. In no way does it contribute to the erosion, irrelevance, or obsolescence of Judaism as Joel Alperson implies.

Tikkun olam builds communities and enhances, empowers, and inspires Jews to look beyond self-interest to a damaged world – a world that needs all the help it can get. This is the reality that our people have passed from generation to generation, and will continue to be the foundation of our strength and our survival.

Since 1923, the National Council of Jewish Women has used its Jewish values to organize volunteers and advocates to work toward improving the quality of life for the disadvantaged in our community, our country, and globally. We inform, educate, advocate for social justice to state and federal legislators, and turn progressive ideals into action. We believe that failure to do so would lead to more injustice, suffering, and chaos.

Tikkkun olam has provided the foundation for the Jewish people to work together to repair the world around them and to create a better quality of life for everyone. The members of the Bergen County Section of NCJW are dedicated to this end through our work with 18 local community service organizations in Bergen County.