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Jewish Values and Affirmative Action

The Jewish tradition has always been sensitive to the plight of the stranger. A long and unfortunate history of injustice and prejudice has made African-Americans, Latinos, women, and other oppressed groups strangers in society's mainstream. As Jews, deeply committed to the prophetic imperatives of our tradition, the Reform Movement is dedicated to those policies that will create justice for all people. The importance of equality in the Jewish tradition is based on the concept that all of God's children are "created in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27). History teaches that all people benefit when the barriers to true equality are removed.

Additional Jewish Texts

  • If one sees a great crowd, one should thank God for not having made them all of one mind. For just as each person’s face is different from another, so is each person’s mind different from any other mind.-Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 58a
  • Here is a Talmudic statement that speaks directly to what we today often call diversity. The Rabbis were aware of the human tendency to seek homogeneity. They knew that we commonly choose friends on the basis of similar likes and dislikes and a shared world perspective rather than seek out friends who lifestyle differs significantly from our own. The Rabbis also recognized the inherent difficulty in accepting our innate differences.-Lori Lefkowitz on Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 58a
  • Rabbi Akiva used to say: "Beloved is the human being - for the human was created in the image of God. God showed even greater love by letting the human being know that he or she was created in God’s image."-Mishnah Pirke Avot 3:14
  • God formed Adam out of dust from all over the world: yellow clay, white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, no one can declare to any race or color of people that they do not belong here since this soil is not their home.-Yalkut Shimoni, 1:13