Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century

Derusha Publishing  2012


As the founder of Uri L’Tzedek, the world’s first and only Orthodox social justice movement, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz in this book has collected a series of previously published articles which examine “how... our traditional Jewish ethics translate into contemporary Jewish social justice responsibilities.”

The basis of his argument is that in Judaism religious and social responsibilities are inextricably linked and cannot be dealt with separately, and he cites the Torah, the Talmud, and authorities from Maimonides to Lord Jonathan Sacks to make his point.

In language that is at once passionate and direct, the author tackles a number of delicate subjects head on and makes practical suggestions for dealing with them. Among the topics he discusses are the right to health care; gender equality; protection of the environment; business ethics; socially responsible investments; the treatment of workers, especially those who are “unseen,” such as hotel chambermaids, and prison reform. His focus is primarily on the United States and he doesn’t hesitate to mention names, including Jack Abramoff and Sholom Rubashkin, when appropriate.

While his writing is peppered with a great many transliterated Hebrew quotations and references which are best understood by yeshiva-trained readers, Rabbi Shmuly’s message will surely resonate with any socially conscious reader and thus fulfill his hope that this book “will open up a conversation about our responsibilities as Jews to repair the world with more urgency, sophistication and passion.”


Read Shmuly's Posts for the Visiting Scribe

Is Prayer for Activists?

Do We Prioritize the Vulnerable in Justice? 

Is the Synagogue a Relic of the Past?

Hurricane Sandy, FEMA, and the Need for Big Government

What Is Fair Taxation?

Levinas: On Ritual and Justice

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