Weinberg Tzedek Hillel Director Michelle Lackie joined Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) on Capitol Hill recently to announce the launch of the first annual Jewish Social Action Month (JSAM). The initiative aims to promote Jewish unity, peoplehood and social-justice programs in Jewish communities throughout the world.
JSAM celebrates the commitment to repair the world and will be held each year on Cheshvan, the second month in the Hebrew calendar, which coincides with Nov. 3 – Dec. 1, 2005. Organizers chose the month of Cheshvan because it follows the holiest days in the Jewish year of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the days in which Jews look inward and cleanse themselves of all misdeeds.
Lackie shared with the audience Hillel's commitment to social justice, emphasis on Darfur activism and plans to send several hundred students to help with Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts during winter and spring alternative-break programs.
"The group was excited and, I think, inspired to hear that Hillel was taking a lead and that so many students wanted to participate," Lackie said.
Lieberman and Israel are also spearheading efforts to have their colleagues support an historic declaration in the congressional record. [link to page in CR]
"I am extremely proud to partner with Senator Lieberman in launching the first annual Jewish Social Action Month here in Washington and throughout the world," Israel said. "What better way to begin our Jewish New Year and the promise it can hold by launching into a month-long serious commitment to social action? I urge all my colleagues to join with us in supporting this historic effort."
A similar event was held in Israel's Knesset to mirror the global kickoff in Washington. The closing ceremony will be held on Nov. 30 at the Beit HaNasi, the home of Israeli President Katzav and will be chaired by Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Melchior.
JSAM is an outgrowth of Kol Dor, an organization dedicated to bringing together a new, younger generation of Jewish leadership. The Knesset, Jewish organizations and a wide range of religious and political leaders throughout the world, including Hillel President Avraham Infeld, have endorsed the event.