By: Jeremy Weyl
The call to seek justice is shared across many diverse faiths around the country. Jewish communities across the United States engage in global citizenship by continuing to act towards tikkun olam, or transforming our world.
One way to transform the world is by cancelling third-world debts. For more than a decade, Jubilee USA Network has worked to cancel unjust debt in the developing world to help eradicate poverty, successfully gaining over $100 billion in debt relief for developing nations. The inspiration for debt cancellation and a modern Jubilee was inspired by the parsha Behar-Bechokotai in Leviticus.
The Leviticus passage called for every 50th year to be a “Jubilee Year,” during which all land was to be returned to its original owner, slaves were to be freed and liberty to be proclaimed throughout the land. In contemporary times, the Jubilee concept means that instead of third-world governments paying back debts to banks in the developed world — debts that have paid many times already — money and resources should go towards hospitals, school, and other citizen-first projects.
Jubilee Shabbat weekend will occur the weekend of May 18th, 2012. The Religious Action Center along with American Jewish World Service, Tikkun, the Shalom Center and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America (RHR-NA) are co-sponsoring the important events.
The events are an exciting opportunity to set aside time the weekend of May 18-19 to pray, reflect, study, and act around the issues of global inequality and poverty. Communities will take time to learn about the ways they can incorporate the concepts of Jubilee, a restoring of all relations and ending the cycle of global poverty, into their pursuit of justice. Many will incorporate Jubilee Shabbat into their weekend by holding a special Shabbat service, a Jubilee-focused d’var, a synagogue-wide or family Havdalah service, or Torah study group.
The reading of parsha Behar-Bechokotai lands on the same time as the G8 meetings a time when our global decisionmakers meet to discuss economic policies that impact the entire globe. Jubilee Shabbat is part of Jubilee USA's G8/G20 justice events where communities across the United States will be pushing for an international debt court.
Each Jubilee Shabbat event will connect Jewish communities, who have a long history of acting for social justice, to the Jubilee movement made up of diverse communities in the United States and across Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Together, as a diverse movement of people, we will continue to work for global economic justice!