The Meaning of Social Justice

On the ride to Urban Adamah, I did not know what to expect. I have never heard of an agricultural program that acted on the enduring tradition of Jewish social justice by securing food for low-income members of the community. After working in the farm by planting fig and olive trees, I was inspired by the direct and immediate benefits pouring out of what seemed like at first a small, urban farm. In light of this new-found inspiration, I decided to write a post detailing some of the Jewish social justice acts I grew up learning about, but never got to experience until last Saturday.

The term social justice stems from an over-arching concept called Tikum Olam, which literally translates to “repairing the world.” Repairing the world sounds like a daunting task, but it can also refer to doing small good deeds, or Mitzvahs, which we are expected to complete without seeking reward. The most significant philosophy guiding these actions is the following quote: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” Leviticus 19.17. Most of us have heard this quote growing up, and it actually comes from the bible and was on a poster in Urban Adama!

The second wisdom underlying social justice is the word Tzdakah, which means charity. In fact, the main religious text of Judaism, the Torah, gives explicit instructions: to let the poor person pick first from the fruit tree and not to harvest the corners of your field and leave their yield for the poor. The text also explicitly says: “For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the animal of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.” These guidelines are directly to Urban Adamah, where the plants and vegetables we helped grow go to help local church- goers.

Though these quotes stem from Jewish social justice ideology, their message, like Casey said, align with universal values. I feel as though their religious background, however, adds significance to our trip and how it fits in a larger, global context.

One of the pictures I attached features a poster saying Justice, justice, you shall pursue!




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