A Progressive Jewish Congregation in Portland, Oregon
Shir Tikvah Office: 503-473-8227

Social Justice

“Seek justice, undo oppression, defend the orphan, plead for the vulnerable.”
Isaiah 1:17

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel
Congregation Shir Tikvah’s Leadership is dedicated to American democracy and values. As patriotic Americans we call upon the President-elect, Donald Trump, to denounce in the strongest possible terms the extremist voices that sow hate and disarray in celebration of his ascent to power, and to exclude from his cabinet those who have supported such hatred. We will not be silent; we will not normalize the hatred and violence that tears at our nation’s fabric.

We feel we must speak out against the elevation of bigotry and extremism in our national life, and guard against complicity in ourselves and others. We are commanded: justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 16.20). Bigotry and hatred have no place in the inner circles of leadership of our country.

As citizens who pray for the peace of this land we call upon all the leaders of our government to pursue justice for all its inhabitants. As Jews we call upon each other to work for justice, and we call upon all those who would build a just community – locally, nationally, for us all – to join supportive hands and stand firm in common cause with all those who are vulnerable.

For your sake, my companions and friends, I seek justice; for the sake of the House of G*d I will seek peace.  (Psalm 122)

Hazak, hazak v’nit’hazek, let us be strong, and let us strengthen each other.

Rodfey Tzedek (Pursuers of Justice)

Rodfrey Tzedek is Shir Tikvah’s fulfillment of the mitzvah to reach out to the other in acts of tzedek (justice). We seek to do acts of tzedakah as well as to give it, for we know that it is through our relationship to other people that we connect with God and thus realize our vision of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world).

Pub Talk: Judaism and Resistance

When the law of the land is unjust, what should Jews do? A talk with Rabbi Ariel Stone and Rabbi Tzvi Fischer of Portland Kollel.

December 14th @ 7:00 pm
Lucky Lab – 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Cash Bar – Free Snacks

Do Something Jewish for Christmas

For the 10th year in a row, Congregation Shir Tikvah will providing Christmas dinner for youth at New Avenues for Youth, a non-profit organization helping homeless youth from Oregon and Southwest Washington. (For more about NAFY, click here.) NAFY will be serving dinner for 150 kids total.

Our congregation is committed to providing food for 20 for the dinner on December 24th, Christmas Eve.

We will not be serving the dinner (confidentiality/ insurance issues prevent this). Dishes should be cooked at home and delivered to Ellen Metz’s house on the 24th.

Email Dale Schwartz by December 15th to sign up.

This is a list of the food items we need; remember that each one should be large enough to feed 20 people.

  • Regular Stuffing
  • Vegan Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Vegetable side dishes
  • Pies and other desserts
  • Sparkling Cider

We are also accepting donations of GIFT CARDS and SOCKS. Drop off at Ellen’s on the 24th.

Shir Tikvah is currently active with:

  • Oregon Food Bank and Northeast Emergency Food Pantry
  • Rahab’s Sisters: Hot meals, toiletries and radical hospitality for women in need on 82nd Avenue
  • New Avenues for Youth: Services for homeless and at-risk youth
  • Keshet: Advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews
  • SURJ: Racial justice
  • Yad l’Yad: In-reach to Shir Tikvah members
  • Projects inspired by our b’nai mitzvah students

 Annual Tzedakah Contribution

Each year, Shir Tikvah makes a congregational tzedakah donation of $1,800 as part of our community commitment to gemilut hasadim, “acts of loving kindness”.  Congregants and Steering Committee members are encouraged to nominate organizations for consideration by emailing our Steering Committee chair or Rabbi directly. Our tzedakah contribution in 5776 went to support meals and more at Rahab’s Sisters.

An Open Letter to Black Lives Matter leadership from a Jew

Dear Black Lives Matter leadership,

I write from Portland Oregon, a small city in the Pacific North West with a history as racist as any and more than some, recently named by the Atlantic Magazine as the whitest city in America.  I am a Jew and a Rabbi, and I believe that my duty as the support and guide of a group of Progressive Jews in this city is to explore with them every opportunity to challenge racism and end it; this is how we understand our religious obligation to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with G*d” as our Prophet Micah put it once a long time ago.

I write because I want to engage in meaningful dialogue and action with you – and that I am dismayed and demoralized in that desire by the choice made by the leadership of Black Lives Matter to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions group (BDS). Not because I am going to defend the behavior of the State of Israel’s leadership vis-a-vis the Palestinian people – evil is evil everywhere, and people everywhere do it.

I am disappointed because it wasn’t necessary, and because it’s too easy a shot for you to take. And because that choice is not an integral part of your mission, and your mission will now be unnecessarily obstructed by it.

I explored the Black Lives Matter website earlier this week as part of my own learning, and I found on it lovely statements, such as this one: “We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another,” which I found on the Guiding Principles page. That sounded good to me as a Rabbi, until today when I discovered that, sadly, it seems to me that you don’t – really – mean it.

This choice of yours is not necessary: what happens in Israel has nothing to do with your cause, which I want to join in full-throated support, to protest and protect and value Black lives in the United States. This is too easy a shot: a troubling anti-Jewish sentiment shadows much of American leftist activism. This is not part of your mission: it is dramatic and exciting to see expressions of support across the world’s social media from Palestinian activists to those of Black Lives Matter, but it is nothing but sloppy to assert the generalized message that any one struggle is like any other. It insults the unique pain we each carry, and it does not strengthen your message.

And, sadly, your mission will be unnecessarily obstructed by this choice, because this choice alienates many Jews in the United States, Jews whose entire religious tradition wants to support you, Jews who will now feel that you are asking them to choose between their Jewish family and their Jewish longing for universal justice. All Jews feel related, that may indeed be true, but the average Jew in the U.S. is no more a part of the decisions of the State of Israel’s politicians than the average African-American is responsible for 120,000 children forced into combat in Africa. Yet too many ask us to answer for Israel in ways that no one else is pressured.

And regarding my Israeli brethren, please don’t quote “am I my brother’s keeper” to me: you are the “brother” I seek to keep and protect and support, right here in my backyard.

We have our own American problems right here, and this is where we live, work and struggle for a safe, better world for all of us, and our children. This is the only place where we can make a meaningful difference. Let’s work together here, to bring justice here. It only obstructs work that we might share, full-throatedly and without hesitation, when we adopt causes and recite slogans that are not ours.

Black Lives Matter leadership, please hear these words of mine that I offer to you from my heart: this choice of yours to endorse BDS does not reflect well on your stated principles of empathy, peace, and love for all people. I hope you will consider the difference between righteous anger and destructive hate, and reflect upon the moment, well within your power, when you are no longer a victim, but a perpetrator, by your own choice.

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