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R’fuah Sh’leimah: The Renewal of Mind, Body, and Spirit. NFTY’s 2005-2006 Social Action Theme… How is it unique?

Jordyn Jacobs / Social Action / October 9, 2005

October 9, 2005
Week 31
6 Tishrei 5766
R’fuah Sh’leimah: The Renewal of Mind, Body, and Spirit. NFTY’s 2005-2006 Social Action Theme… How is it unique?
By Jordyn Jacobs

Exploration of Topic

Over 45 million Americans are currently without health insurance coverage and millions more have inadequate insurance. The United States is one of only two industrialized nations in the world that do not provide universal healthcare coverage to all of its citizens. Canada and Israel both use the universal healthcare system.

Politics aside , the issue of healthcare truly boils down to being an issue of basic human rights. Maimonides, the renowned Jewish philosopher, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents. Jewish tradition offers us such values as ma’akeh l’gagchah (safety for others), kibud habriot (dignity for all people), pikuach nefesh (saving a life) and b’tzelem Elohim (created in the Divine Image). From these values, the commandments of the Torah and the contributions of so many distinguished Jewish thinkers, we acquire our obligation as Reform Jewish teenagers in North America to heal the world and take immediate action on matters as important as our health and the health of others.

For the 2005-2006 year, NFTYites all over North America will be closely examining problems in our world’s healthcare systems and identifying reasons why so many human beings do not have access to proper healthcare. The action theme, R’fuah Sh’leimah : The Renewal of Mind, Body, and Spirit, centers on healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse from a social justice perspective.

More important than our responsibility to tikkun olam (repairing the world) is the often overlooked Jewish concept of tikkun midot (repairing oneself). This year’s NFTY Social Action Theme is truly unique in that it calls upon all NFTYites to approach social action in a new way. The work we do to perfect this world is invaluable, but we must not risk our own health, happiness, and sanity in the process. Not only can we evaluate our lifestyles through the examination of mental health and substance abuse, but we must also make tikkun midot an issue of justice in itself.

As NFTYites, we are constantly struggling to balance school, family, friends, jobs, NFTY, TYG’s, volunteer work, sports and even sleep. The overall lesson in R’fuah Sh’leimah is the idea that if you need to sacrifice volunteering at a soup kitchen or a food bank to maintain your grades or your health, you are still taking part in social action by healing yourself and giving yourself the opportunity to become the best version of you.

Related Questions
What is a NFTY Social Action Theme?

Each year in NFTY, the general board (consisting of the NFTY North American Board and 4 voting delegates from each NFTY region) comes together and resolves to focus on one social action issue that we feel needs attention in the coming year. In the past, NFTYites have tackled matters ranging from hate crimes to hunger and literacy to modern day slavery. The NFTY Social Action Vice President and the NFTY regional SAVP’s are responsible for providing as many resources as possible to NFTYites on the action theme and related topics. Whatever the theme may be, NFTY regions and Temple Youth Groups are strongly encouraged to program on the theme and join NFTYites across North America in our collective efforts to improve the world.

Are mental health and substance abuse really considered issues of social justice?
YES! This concept can be approached in two ways. First of all, mental health discrimination is a huge problem all over the world. People suffering from different forms of mental illnesses and who are in need of prescription drugs for such sicknesses are not always offered the same benefits as those suffering from physical illnesses. In terms of substance abuse, the Reform Jewish Movement holds a strong stance in favor of treatment over incarceration. This means that people convicted of drug use, possession or distribution are offered treatment in order to help the problem at its root. Both of these subject matters are also issues of concern for NFTYites themselves. On the topic of tikkun midot (repairing oneself), it is our obligation to look out for ourselves and our friends on concerns ranging from alcohol abuse, drug abuse and eating disorders to suicidal tendencies, self-mutilation, depression and so on.

Taking Action
Educate Yourself and Educate Others
The first step would be to educate yourself and the people close to you about what a problem healthcare is facing. Find out what kind of healthcare your family uses; it’s an important thing to know!

Program on the theme in your school, in your TYG, in your NFTY region, or in your family. Sample programs that are ready to be used are available on the new NFTY website and are a great starting point. Write letters to your congresswomen or congressmen asking them to reevaluate our nation’s healthcare systems and issues pertaining to such. The Religious Action Center is a phenomenal way to stay up to date on relevant legislation and to find out more about where we stand as a movement.

Take Care of Yourself!
This is more important than any social action program, project, fundraiser or campaign. Stay healthy and stay happy!

iTorah Lishmah

Your place in cyberspace to explore the lessons further!
See what others think about this topic and tell others what you think at our online discussion forum.

How can we approach mental health and substance abuse from a social action standpoint in a safe and inoffensive way?

Jordyn A. Jacobs is 18 years old and from Temple Solel in San Diego, CA. She was NFTY Southern California Social Action Vice President last year and is currently serving as the NFTY North American Social Action Vice President. Jordyn spent her summer with the rest of the NFTY board at the URJ Kutz Camp NFTY National Leadership Center helping to begin work on the action theme and working with the Social Action Track and Mitzvah Corps programs. She attends The George Washington University in Washington, DC as a political science major.

Check out NFTY's new website!
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Copyright ©2005 Union for Reform Judaism Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning and the Youth Division

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