The Knesset Speech
Knesset Backs Global Jewish Social Action Month
Testimony of Yosef I. Abramowitz in support of declaring the Hebrew month of Heshvan Global Jewish Social Action Month (Delivered in Hebrew)
Knesset Diaspora Affairs Committee
Jerusalem 27 June 2005 20 Sivan 5765
Chairwoman Collette Avital, other Members of Knesset, Kol Dor conference chair Yael Andoran, fellow Kol Dor Members, friends and others who care about the future of the Jewish people and Jewish mission.
It is a great privilege to introduce a global Jewish idea to this important body, an idea that can:
help unite Jews around the world;
strengthen the global integrity of the Jewish people;
highlight positive Jewish values;
and, of course, catalyze the performance of hopefully countless acts of hesed and tzedek, of social action and social justice.
We at Kol Dor recognize that there are multiple points of entry into Jewish peoplehood, especially for the under-affiliated of the next generation who are not joining through traditionally prescribed ways. The prophetic call to repair the world, which resonates clearly in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, clearly speaks to young Jews around the world, across the religious and political spectrum. We seek to harness this idealism, unfortunately often cast in a universal rather than particularly Jewish frame. We seek to join a strong social justice stream found in Jewish teachings—as Rav Gideon Sylvester just demonstrated—with the growing tide of alienated young Jews, and create a powerful current of Peoplehood with Purpose.
The idea is quite simple:
The Jewish people, who have contributed so much to the moral advancement of civilization, will focus our energies and attention on the month of Heshvan and transforming it internationally into Jewish Social Action Month. Following the Yamim Noraim, when world Jewry is mobilized to celebrate the High Holy Days, Jews will be invited to express our people’s universal hopes for humanity and civilization by actions—local, national, international—that express our values of aryevut, and tzedek.
The idea is to open-source this idea in all Jewish communities, from Hodu and Kush, from Metula to Eilat, from San Francisco to San Paulo, from Sydney to London, and everywhere in between.
As Jews, we know the power of symbols. In an era of Jewish history when we live with so many internal divisions, our communities want to rally around positive ideas and actions that unite Jews worldwide.
We seek neither to dictate nor control, but to provide leadership. We seek to link powerful ideas with personal example, doogma Isheet, and to seed the great imagination and intellectual power of Jews worldwide, as they seek ways to make a difference in the world.
We, Kol Dor members from sixteen countries, respectfully offer this committee and the Knesset the opportunity to provide not just leadership to Medinat Yisrael, but to Am Yisrael.
Thank you for your positive consideration of declaring Heshvan Global Jewish Social Action Month.
Yosef I. Abramowitz, a Kol Dor member, lives with his wife and four children outside Boston, MA. A former Chairperson of the World Union of Jewish Students, Yossi serves as CEO of Jewish Family Life! (JFLmedia.com), which produces SocialAction.com and a dozen other initiatives on behalf of the Jewish future.