The Winter, 2013 issue of the Lookstein Center's Jewish Educational Leadership of Jewish Educational Leadership explores "Tikkun Olam". It seeks to explore the question of, “How can I make tikkun olam Jewish?”
That one question, however, raises very different challenges depending on where you stand. For those on the liberal side, it asks what the Jewish content of tikkun olam is. In what way does tikkun olam strengthen my Jewish identity? Does a Jewish version of tikkun olam look the same as a secular-liberal one, or of the tikkun olam of some other religious group? And here’s the paradox: If tikkun olam is Judaism itself yet I do not understand what makes it Jewish, am I fulfilling a Jewish imperative or not when I practice it?
For the traditionalists, the question challenges a re-examination of Jewish sources. Tikkun olam does appear in those sources, although not necessarily under that name. How can a particularist, conservative, inward-looking approach to Judaism embrace a piece of Jewish tradition that is distinctly universalistic and outward-looking?
From the Editor's Introduction
Those interested in researching the origins of the tikkun olam, both in its original and contemporary understandings, should skip straight to Levi Cooper’s From the Classics article. It is rich in content and is a valuable resource for exploring and discussing its application. The Research section opens with Judy Sokolow’s research on the impact of service-learning programs in Modern Orthodox schools. Adam Berman and Shuki Taylor share the theory and practice of a relief program they run in South America under the auspices of Yeshiva University. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy shares ideas from the Social Justice track at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, and Shmuly Yanklowitz describes the rationale for founding Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social-justice organization. Ira Bedzow rounds off this section with thought-provoking dream about building a Jewishly grounded, educationally viable eco-community.
In our Applications sections, Beth Cohen informs us of the work of Facing History and Ourselves, Lisa Exler shares a curriculum piece from the American Jewish World Service, Rachel Meytin explicates the mission and process of Panim, and Yonatan Neril shares a perspective on Jewish environmentalism. Examples of tikkun olam in schools are presented by Naomi Lev & Juli Kramer, and Shimshon Hamerman. We are pleased to reprint Barry Kornblau's thoughtful ecological reflection, and gracing our Perspectives page is Yaakov Blidstein, winner of the prestigious Israel Prize.