Next week sees the launch of the UK Jewish community’s first ever Social Responsibility Week (SRW), led by the 2017/18 cohort of the Ben Azzai Programme. The Ben Azzai Programme is run jointly by Tzedek and the Office of the Chief Rabbi and aims to cultivate ambassadors for Jewish social responsibility who will become tomorrow’s leaders in this crucially important area of Jewish life.
SRW marks the first major culmination of the initiative. It’s a week-long awareness campaign designed to shift attitudes and influence the discourse within the Jewish community towards its explicit duty to those in need all over the world, regardless of faith or nationality. SRW is being marked by events in over 30 schools, university JSocs, youth movements and synagogues across the country.
In an email to all participating institutions, the group wrote: “We want to propel a greater understanding and appreciation of outward-looking social responsibility and its role as a central pillar of Judaism. In other words, the key message of SRW is that as Jews, we have an explicit duty towards those in need all over the world, regardless of faith or nationality.”
George Rosenfeld, who has led the group, says: “We have been so excited at the scale of our campaign – we are expecting that 2,000 people will engage with our central message through the sessions which are taking place. It will be the first time in our community’s history that there will be a widespread, coordinated discussion about outward-looking social responsibility and we are confident that it will not be the last. We are very proud to have reached this point through the work which the entire group has put in over the past year.”
Ayelet Besso-Cowan, who has also formulated the group’s plans as general coordinator, explains the vision behind the campaign: “Those taking part will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable international development: looking at giving people the skills they need to stand on their own two feet. Participants will have the opportunity to think about the challenges faced by those in developing countries who may not have the same opportunities they have had in education or employment but who are still in many ways similar to them.
The Chief Rabbi, who is expected to address an SRW assembly at JFS said that Social Responsibility Week reflects “exactly the kind of activism we hope the Ben Azzai programme would catalyse. At a time where many young people are more likely to be focused on their rights than on their responsibilities, there is a real need for people across our community to follow the wonderful example set by the students who are organising social responsibility week.”
“This is an outstanding campaign organised by the next generation of young Jewish leaders. Each of them recognises that their sphere of responsibility extends to the world’s most vulnerable people.”
You can still sign up your institution to run an activity using the resources made by the group by contacting email@example.com.
The Ben Azzai Programme takes university students to visit Tzedek’s work in both Ghana and India.
Interested in being part of the next Ben Azzai cohort? Register your interest for the 2019/20 programme here.