Community Focused

Community is an integral part of the Jewish experience.

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"There is a story about Rav Assi, that when he was dying, his nephew entered and found him crying. He said to him, 'Why are you crying? Is there any Torah that you did not study and teach to others? Look--your students sit before you. Are there any acts of lovingkindness that you did not do? Furthermore, despite your stature, [you humbled yourself and] you stayed far from disputes and did not allow yourself to be appointed over the affairs of the community.'

"Rav Assi replied, 'My son, this is why I am crying. What if I am asked to account for the fact that I was able to arbitrate disputes among the people of Israel and did not?' [This is the meaning of] 'the fraudulent person destroys [the world]'" (Midrash Tanhuma, Parshat Mishpatim 2).

Though the precise structure of Jewish communities has changed according to place, time and current interests, membership in a Jewish community has always demanded a sense of shared destiny, manifested in the obligation to care for other members of the community, as well as in the joy of partaking in others' celebrations.

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Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. She previously served as the Rabbi-in-Residence for the Jewish Funds for Justice.