Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rabbi Min on Tikkun Olam

Basic Jewish Value #8: The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The words "Tikkun Olam" refer to the Jewish value of actively participating in healing the world. "Tikkun" comes from the Hebrew verb "l'taken" which translates as ‘to heal' or ‘to repair.' "Olam," usually translated as "world" can also refer to all and space... meaning the entire universe! Underlying this Jewish value is the idea that the world in which we live today in imperfect and that each of us has a variety of opportunities to actively participate in improving some part of that world. According to Jewish tradition, we are OBLIGATED to participate in this repair; it isn't optional! In Pirkei Avot, a section of the Mishna which is full of advice for creating and sustaining healthy lives and community, we are told: "It is not your obligation to complete the task, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it entirely...."

Each JFS program actively participates in Tikkun Olam, whether it is supporting Holocaust Survivors whose painful past can haunt them, providing Medication Management to seniors who are having difficulty keeping track of correctly administering their often complex medications, or assisting seniors maintain their cognitive agility through participating in the "Brain Fitness" activities offered through the JFS Health and Wellness programs. When you support JFS staff through volunteering or donating, you are doing your part in helping to heal the world.

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz
Director, Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program

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