Which is greater, study or action? …Study is greater, because it leads to action.
—Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 40b
Through education, AJWS has helped reignite the spirit of action and activism at the core of our tradition. The Torah and three millennia of Jewish teachings contain a trove of wisdom on the importance of aiding the orphan and the stranger, saving lives and ensuring that the world we live in is equitable, righteous and just. AJWS works to bring this tradition to the forefront of Jewish consciousness and inspire Jewish learning about contemporary issues like genocide, global hunger, human trafficking and Fair Trade. The fact that tikkun olam shares the pulpit with ritual and spirituality in American Judaism today is a legacy of our commitment to authentic justice-based Jewish education.
To this end, AJWS has developed a growing body of educational resources that teach about poverty and injustice through deep exploration of biblical, rabbinic and contemporary Jewish texts. Our volunteer curriculum, Expanding the Universe of Obligation: Judaism, Justice and Global Responsibility, infuses the volunteer experience with study, generating a vibrant Jewish discourse on activism, tzedakah and justice. From Rashi and Maimonides to Abraham Joshua Heschel and Susan Sontag, the curriculum’s texts forever change the way AJWS volunteers think about what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.
In 2009, our Torah commentaries, text studies and book and film guides reached more than 8,000 people. Our webinars introduced educators to Jewish perspectives on issues like food sovereignty and foreign assistance reform. Resources for holidays related the Jewish calendar to a global worldview. And at the cutting edge of online education, On1Foot—AJWS’s Jewish text database—enabled users to share texts and curricula with each other, multiplying access to this tradition exponentially.