Why Jewish Activists Need Jewish Learning

eJewishPhilanthropy published an article explaining why Jewish activists, communal leaders, and social entreprenuers need to continue nurturing their own Jewish knowledge.

Maya Bernstein, the Director of Education and Leadership at Upstart Bay Area, an incubator for Jewish social entreprenuers, writes:

… autonomy and mastery without purpose can be vacuous, and that is why Jewish learning is so important in this equation. Many of these individuals have had enough inspiring Jewish experiences to commit themselves to actively re-imagining and designing Jewish life for their peers. But these initial “spark” experiences do not always have the depth and breadth to keep these Jewish entrepreneurs inspired….

I believe that it is also important to emphasize Jewish learning opportunities for Jewish innovators so that they are better capable of creating meaningful, resonant Jewish experiences…The Talmud, in Horayot 14a, recounts an argument regarding which of two types is preferable – the Sinai type, or the Oker Harim (Uprooter of Mountain) type. The one is deeply knowledgeable about and committed to preserving the tradition; the other is, according to Rashi, “fierce and creative with Torah… Many of today’s most passionate Jewish innovators, who are playing a pivotal role in designing the Jewish future, are “fierce and creative” with the tradition, even if they do not have a deep grounding in this tradition. We must provide these individuals with the opportunity to gain more balance on the spectrum – to have them spend some time sitting at Sinai, as that will deeply enhance their ability to influence a system that has survived only because of its fierce and creative spirits.

For the full article, see “A Case For Jewish Learning” in EJewishPhilanthropy.

Categories: Building a Better Judaism | Leave a comment

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