The phrase "Let my people go" is an incredibly compelling one to those struggling for freedom. These words, which Moses spoke to Pharaoh as he led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, still ring true today to millions of people across the world. Men, women and children, each created Btzelem Elohim (in the image of G-d), are held in bondage by the chains of international debts.
The Jewish community, with its belief in and practice of tikkun olam and tzedakah, can be important and valuable advocates for those enmeshed in debt slavery. A deeper understanding, prayer, and ultimately some form of action in regard to debt cancellation are what Jubilee USA is asking of religious communities.
In the Jewish tradition, learning is about living. The values taught in our texts provide the basis for our long history of commitment to social action and social justice.
The Talmud tells the story of a debate between two major rabbinic academies, the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai They struggled to resolve the following question: If a person had to choose between studying Torah and performing good deeds, what should he or she do? After years of argument, they concluded that if a person could only choose one thing, they should study Torah.
Their logic was as follows: If you only performed good deeds, you would be a good person, but you might never understand the richness and complexity of our tradition. On the other hand, everyone agreed that it was impossible to study Torah and not be motivated to perform good deeds and pursue justice. The rabbis found it inconceivable that study would not lead to action.
The Global South is economically indentured to the developed world. Both freedom from debtor imprisonment and foreign aid are called for.
Joining Jubilee USA Network is a practical way to live out your faith and convictions as an individual and as a community or congregation. Jubilee Congregations provide the structure by which communities can learn about injustice in the world and have the tools to make visible change by working in collaboration with other people of faith.
At the most basic level, the debt crisis faced by poor countries keeps children from getting the food and education that they need. Debt keeps families from receiving health care. Debt keeps millions of people bound to poverty.
Debt cancellation is hunger relief. Debt cancellation is medical care for children. Debt cancellation is clean water and roads for farmers. Debt cancellation is HIV/AIDS prevention, education, care and treatment.
This packet is an urgent invitation to your congregation to join the growing number of faith communities across the country who are making the decision to break the chains of debt for the world's most impoverished people.
Hopefully, the pages that follow will serve as a resource tool for you and your congregation so that the Jewish community can continue to have an even louder voice in what is becoming one of the largest global social justice movements in history.