Living A Full Life

The deaths of Abraham and Sarah.

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Rural Organization for Social Education

This same truth is recognized by contemporary grassroots organizations in the Global South, such as the Rural Organization for Social Education (ROSE), an AJWS grantee in India. ROSE strives to build:

…a better informed rural community that is able to challenge the status quo about its socio-economic standing and successfully change the age-old, unjust practices against it. [ROSE] makes extensive use of folk art forms such as street plays to inspire such critical thinking in the community.

ROSE seeks not only economic but also social well-being, and it uses not only political but also cultural tools to get there. This integration of methods and goals exemplifies the approach to development taken by AJWS and its grantees. Development should not only increase the supply of food, medicine or classrooms. It must also bring about long-term change that enables the emotional and cultural fulfillment that all people deserve.

Abraham was fortunate to die "old and contented," but what does this phrase mean? The 13th-century commentator Ramban explains: "He saw all the longings of his heart come to pass." Ramban's description of Abraham helps us understand that our personal aspirations are no less vital to our lives than our physical well-being. As we support development in the Global South, we should listen to local community organizations as they articulate the full range of what it means, to them, to realize their right to life.

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Guy Izhak Austrian

Guy Izhak Austrian is a community organizer and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary.