Informing congregation members about their ability to save lives (through sermons and conversations).
The average congregational rabbi could, without much additional effort, save several lives annually.
By using their powerful platforms to help congregation members make better-informed decisions about charitable giving, rabbis could, over time, save or substantially improve the lives of countless people around the world.
Giving of this kind is very often a unique joy for the giver. Knowing with confidence that one has saved lives and protected children from horrible illness is both empowering and liberating: it can add a sense of purpose to the giver’s life and help make him or her less worried about keeping appearances and impressing others.
Helping congregation members realize their potential to make a difference in the broader world is a great gift a rabbi can give his or her community. Many of them will be grateful.
The rabbis and congregations who join us are going to meet some remarkable people at the the forefront of one of the most inspiring, innovative efforts to improve the world in the 21st century—highly effective activists and philanthropists who would love to share their experiences with Reform congregations and expand their moral horizons.
We are positive that interesting, thought-provoking encounters with these speakers will enrich the congregation members’ understanding of the broader world and their place in it.
Knowing that their congregation saves the lives of children and prevents unthinkable suffering among innocent people in need will fill congregation members with a wonderful sense of community pride and loyalty. Learning and taking impactful action together could strengthen the bonds between congregation members and their rabbi.
Being one of the first generation of religious leaders to embrace effective giving would immediately add another dimension to any rabbi’s appeal as a moral leader. A rabbi who teaches hundreds of people how to save lives effectively with the best available data and research would rightly be viewed as a modern, compassionate, and broad-minded leader.
We are committed to making this process easy enough that any congregation will be able to join us without it being a strain on anyone involved. No existing programs will be affected. No special efforts will be needed.
We are thinking on a movement level, and any leading rabbi and congregation that join us in whatever way, especially in the early stages, will be appreciated and celebrated.
First and foremost, embracing effective giving on a movement level could help save thousands of lives by encouraging rabbis and congregations to promote smart, cost-effective donations to the people who need them most in the world.
Progressive Jews all over the world still brim with pride when they think of the image of Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with leaders of the Civil Rights movement. The fact we were on the right side of history when it mattered most is an enduring example of the overwhelming good and solidarity Progressive Judaism is capable of generating.
Decades from now, extreme global poverty of today’s magnitude will be a thing of the past. Coming together as the first religious denomination to save thousands of lives through smart effective giving could be a badge of honour that makes Reform Jews around the world proud for generations to come.
Taking action in the fight against extreme global poverty could boost Progressive Judaism’s appeal among young, educated, humanitarian-minded Jews, many of whom cannot currently find their place in our synagogues and in our movement.
Seeing rabbis lead a movement-wide effort to save thousands of lives in the developing world could play an invaluable educational role in inspiring college students and the movement’s youth groups, showing them that Jewish values and the Reform Movement are at the forefront of one of the most advanced, cutting-edge efforts to improve the world in the 21st century.
Throughout the ages, Jews have been told “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16). Extreme global poverty—and the death of children under five from completely preventable diseases—is both the gravest form of social injustice in our world today and one of the only ones the average person can actually do something about. Very few of us could ever hope to have any influence whatsoever on the Middle East peace process or on the growing partisan divide in American politics, but most of us could save the life of a child from malaria tomorrow. Having the empathy to see the problem, the understanding to figure out what can and cannot be done, and the responsibility to take action is the path to truly impactful Tikkun Olam.