Draft Values Statement, Network for Transformative Judaism

[This draft statement was created by a group of Jewish activists and spiritual leaders meeting in 2011, with the intention of developing a network of learning and mutual support. It is a living document, evolving as more people become involved. Arlene Goldbard,  Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Cherie Brown, Kohenet Holly Taya Shere, Sabrina Sojourner, Rabbi Arthur Waskow:  Coordinating Committee, Network  for Transformative Judaism.]

We are Jews coming together from many realms to learn from and support each other in a transformative Judaism grounded in the common values listed below.

We recognize that various streams of organized Jewish life have within them leaders, groups and congregations that are committed to the spiritually-rooted healing and transformation of the world as the crucial and central task of Judaism in this generation.

The Network for Transformative Judaism has taken this on as our central commitment. We welcome as full participants those Jews of every background and affiliation who uphold that vision and who feel aligned with this framework of values. We also welcome as explorers those who feel drawn toward but not yet certain about this outlook.

As members of a developing network of Jews committed to positive social and spiritual change, we perceive that:

  • The time has come for a radical reshaping of values, requiring wealthy nations like our own to invest in ending war, poverty, environmental and social injustice.We work individually and collectively to break the trance of consumerism, so that all can help to build humane, caring societies, manifesting planetary responsibility rather than self-interest. The moment calls out for a profound spiritual, religious, ecological, economic, political, communal, and interpersonal transformation.

  • We are engaged in all dimensions, pursuing an embodied spirituality that recognizes our bodies’ wisdom along with our souls. We advocate and practice love for all life sharing this planet. We incorporate knowledge from science and other realms of study along with spiritual knowledge derived from Jewish tradition and our own experience. We refresh spiritual practices and traditions with language, stories, interpretations, and customs that speak to this moment in human and planetary history.

  • We recognize the human capacity to embrace rather than exploit the earth, living lightly, sharing resources, and speaking and acting so as to persuade others to cease damaging acts and engage in the great collective healing that is needed. We honor Jewish teachings and practices as a wellspring of wisdom, support, and guidance in this work.

  • We understand that, as all peoples, Jews have a role to play in repairing the earth and human societies. We choose to engage with those of all faiths and backgrounds who share these values. We are called to act as citizens of the world, rather than focusing only on the parochial concerns of Jews, or Americans, or any other category.

  • We recognize that this is a moment of epidemic fear, continuously fed by the media and amplified by our own reactivity. Rather than empowering us, this tends to be paralyzing. There is no question that we face challenges: some longstanding and some unique to our times, including tremendous imbalances of wealth and power, militarism, racism, gender, religious and other dehumanizing prejudices, and climate change. We resist the top-down power embodied in domineering and unaccountable global corporations. We welcome and work with those who support equity for the disempowered 99%.

  • We see ourselves among the midwives of a great transition, helping the old order to pass away and a new paradigm grounded in love and caring to emerge. In our work, we are committed to nonviolence as a core value and practice.

  • Our commitment to the values of freedom, equality, and justice encompasses the entire planet. We embrace the full spectrum of Jewish diversity, including Jews of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, of all orientations, and of all abilities. We recognize that all nations must be held to the same ethical and moral standards. We join with allies of other faiths to support nations when they act in ways consistent with those values and lovingly criticize them when the arrogance of power leads to oppressive or destructive acts. We hold the nations and leaders closest to our hearts—including the United States, Israel, and Palestine—accountable to the highest standards. We support vigorous steps toward peace and justice for the peoples of Israel and Palestine, including Palestinian self-determination.

  • We hold to our deepest shared values and principles, even in the face of controversy. We contribute to a national community that reflects and enacts a courageous commitment to egalitarian, liberatory, transformative spiritual and political values. The relative comfort of American Jews obliges us to remember and act on the imperatives we learned in slavery and oppression, extending the values of Exodus to all. We acknowledge the awesome power of spiritual practices to focus, strengthen, and support us.

  • We renew our defining stories of creation, purpose, and connection, our holidays and commemorations. We find spiritual language that replaces an older vocabulary rooted in domination—“king,” “father,” “lord”—wishing to speak to the broadest possible community, including those who have previously been excluded and oppressed. We embrace the divine feminine along with the masculine, creating sacred space that can infuse the rest of life.

  •  We acknowledge that both compassion and violence have been manifest in all faith communities, and affirm the intrinsic sacredness of every human, regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation, or ability.

  • We recognize the interconnectedness of all efforts for tikkun olam. We value the work of artists, activists, teachers, organizers, spiritual leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs, and all who use their own gifts to advance freedom, equality, and justice. Our work is infused with artistic and cultural creativity, embodied spirituality, organizing, protest, study, dialogue, and much more. We recognize the unity of the “spiritual” and “political,” rejecting them as separate categories.

Arlene Goldbard,  Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Cherie Brown, Kohenet Holly Taya Shere, Sabrina Sojourner, Rabbi Arthur Waskow:
Coordinating Committee, Network  for Transformative Judaism 

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