Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rabbi Min on V'ahavta L'reyecha C'mocha

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself - Basic Jewish Value #1:  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.

This Biblical verse (Leviticus 19:18) is actually a commandment, leading us to ask: "How can we be commanded to love"? Since Biblical tradition values the good of society, it offers a wide variety of guidelines to help us get along with each other. If caring for others is an obligation, as it is here, increased harmony and peace results.

Jewish Family Service serves a wide variety of people, with different beliefs, practices, cultures and traditions of caring. We care for people in many residential settings, ranging from single family homes to assisted living centers, senior apartments to hospitals. In each setting, our staff encounters caregivers, administrators, activity directors and family members. Each of them, and each of us, is part of a large interconnected community—we are all neighbors. Our lives are interconnected and interdependent; it is both an obligation and an opportunity to enhance those connections through acts of care.

When JFS staff members interact with each other, supporting the variety of programs we offer, we recognize that we constitute a kind of neighborhood. When a JFS staff member helps a frail elder obtain a ramp so they can remain in their own home longer; or transports a client to a medical appointment; or decreases someone's sense of isolation, loneliness, and fear through socialization activities; we are carrying out that value through our actions.

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