Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself

“You shall be holy for Adonai your God is holy” are words so important that they are read from the Torah two times during the year; this week in Parashat Kedoshim and on Yom Kippur afternoon. Not only does God command us to be holy, but what follows, often called the Holiness Code, is a veritable guide on how to live that holy life. This one portion exemplifies Jewish tradition and Jewish ethics. Listed in this short section, to name but a few, are mitzvot concerning: ritual observance, care for the poor and physically challenged, fair treatment of workers, and legal justice. We learn that our relationships with each other can, and must be, as holy as our relationship with God. In essence, “You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.”

For the past almost 100 years Women of Reform Judaism has taken these words to heart. Through advocacy and fund raising, WRJ works to bring justice and fairness to our world and strives to keep Reform Judaism flourishing. Whether fighting for human rights or making sure that there is a place for our teens in the Reform Movement by creating NFTY or contributing $90,000 to the Campaign for Youth Engagement, Women of Reform Judaism is there.

This year I am honored to serve as the WRJ YES Fund (Youth, Education, and Special Projects) Chair. Through the collective contributions of our sisterhoods to the YES Fund, WRJ is able to provide financial assistance to rabbinical and cantorial students, youth, and Reform organizations in North America, Israel, and around the world.

WRJ, then the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, was there in the 1930’s when the Jewish Braille Institute, now JBI International, was established and was its partner for many years. This year, in honor of JBI’s 80th Anniversary, WRJ has allocated funds to create a large print edition of Mishkan T’filah; a much needed and requested publication.  This book will enable visually challenged individuals to truly be part of the prayer community.  Women of Reform Judaism realizes that “You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind” is not a meaningless quote from Leviticus 19, but a reminder for each of us that there are many ways to heal our world and live a holy life.

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Kareen S. Hartwig

About Kareen S. Hartwig

Kareen Hartwig is a member of Women of Reform Judaism's Executive Committee. She attends Temple Brith Achim in King of Prussia, PA.

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