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Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices

Social Justice

Edited by Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff and Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

Publication Year: 2010

How do we expand health care coverage to more Americans? Are hate crimes legislation and affirmative action fair? What sacrifices must we make to protect the environment? Is the death penalty morally acceptable? Contributors include Jill Jacobs, of Jewish Funds for Justice; Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center; and TV commentator and UCLA law professor Laurie Levenson.

Published by: Jewish Publication Society

TItle Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

No book—let alone a series of books—comes about without the creative energy and support of many people. We wish to thank, first and foremost, Ellen Frankel, Editor Emerita of The Jewish Publication Society, for her vision in first conceiving of this series and for her willingness to entrust it to our editorship. The JPS National Council played a critical role early on as the scope and format of the series were in the development stage. Julia...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xi

THERE IS little question that the Jewish tradition offers a mandate to pursue social justice. The Torah commands us to help the poor, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow (e.g., Lev. 19:9–10, 33–34; Deut. 15:4–18, 24:17–22)—those who are most vulnerable in society. The Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud expanded on this, demanding that every...

Case 1: POVERTY AND HEALTH CARE

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pp. 1-

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Case Study

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pp. 3-13

BENJAMIN, a medical director for a large health management organization (HMO), wants to use his volunteer time to work for an important social cause. For instance, he’s aware of the fact that 28 million people in America are classified as “working poor”—those who have one or more full-time jobs, but whose earnings are low enough to keep them...

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Responses

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pp. 14-32

I RECALL the restless nights of my first job! Between college and rabbinical school, I worked as a corporate consultant, advising employees on their benefits packages. People would call, struggling with the decision about which health insurance program would be best for them. Every choice had serious risks and the potential for immediate costs. Confined...

Case 2: DISCRIMINATION AND PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT

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pp. 33-

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Case Study

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pp. 35-46

Discrimination occurs in several forms. Sometimes, it is legally encoded, as in Jim Crow legislation of the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century, (restrictive covenants that barred Jews and other groups from buying homes in certain areas) and in current laws banning same-sex marriages....

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Responses

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pp. 47-67

MANY AMERICAN Jews grow up thinking that what it means to be Jewish is to fight for equality and social justice. Jewish community leaders proudly talk about Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and young Jews are taught about the Jewish “tradition” of...

Case 3: THE ENVIRONMENT

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pp. 69-

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Case Study

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pp. 71-80

Many people view their attempts to recycle and reduce their consumption of resources as noble acts of caring for the environment. Yet, some are skeptical as to whether their small, individual actions make a difference. How do we determine whether such acts are really...

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Responses

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pp. 81-101

One is the contemporary consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,1 a council of scientists from around the world, that planet Earth is becoming overheated, that this poses very serious dangers to human civilization and to the web of life in which the human race came into existence, and that this process is mostly due to the actions of...

Case 4: CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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pp. 103-

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Case Study

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pp. 105-116

What should be the aim of punishment? Should it be retribution, compensation, deterrence, rehabilitation, safety, or something else? Is prison the most effective way of achieving any of those goals, or should some mode of alternative punishment and/or preventive measures...

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Responses

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pp. 117-140

IN RECENT years, a new urban phenomenon has emerged: city blocks that cost the government upwards of $1 million each year. These streets are dubbed “million-dollar blocks” because so many of their residents are in jail or prison that the combined cost of incarcerating them exceeds a...

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Conclusion: The Ethics of Social Justice

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pp. 141-142

WE HOPE that this volume has demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that compassion for others is a Jewish value. This value comes out of the commandment, “Love your fellow as yourself” (Lev. 19:18), which is a manifestation of the core Jewish belief that each of us is created in the...

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 143-145

Editors and Contributors

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pp. 147-150

Index

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pp. 151-156


E-ISBN-13: 9780827611245
Print-ISBN-13: 9780827609075

Publication Year: 2010