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Phone Free Driving

Jackie Shicker, Jeremy Levine & Diana Rose / Jewish Living / March 2011

March 2011


Adar II 5771



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At NFTY Convention 2011, nearly 600 Reform Jewish teenagers signed a pledge promising not to send text messages while driving. Do you consider this pledge to be a Jewish one? Why or why not?

From Jackie Schicker, NFTY-TOR:

"The pledge made by NFTYites in support of Jacy Good's campaign, is Jewish for two reasons that come to mind.

The first is that this pledge is based around a strong tenant of Jewish law, the preservation of lives, (both our own and others'). As the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) states "anyone who preserves a human life is considered to have preserved an entire world." This concept is deeply ingrained in our culture as Jews and human beings and ties directly to our desire to practice Tikkun Olam (repair of the world).

The second and equally important comes from years of NFTY conversations, services and programming. Having served on NFTY-TOR's regional board for two years, one of the neatest things I ever witnessed during a program was a group of participants saying "we're Jewish, and that makes everything we do Jewish." This statement had me take a step back at first, but thinking back on it and the debate that arose, it is entirely true. We are not only Jews for ourselves, but also as a part of thousands' years of traditions and millions of our Jewish ancestors. When I stand up and say anything, it is not only as a human being but as a Jew. I am proudly a Jewish teen who was educated in many places but most vitally and ethically in my synagogue and through NFTY. We all represent Judaism every moment of our lives, and in signing this pledge as NFTYites we made a choice; an intelligent, compassionate and committed choice as a community. As Rabbi Yoffie said at Convention, we are different than just any youth movement, we make choices and stand by them with pride. What could possibly be more Jewish than that?"

From Jeremy Levine, NFTY-NAR:

"Judaism is grounded in the belief that every person is created b'tzelem elohim, in the image of God. It is for this reason that we have to treat each other with respect: we are all holy, and our lives are to be cherished. This also means that we have total respect for human life, because wasting life is wasting something precious. We don't just have to understand life's importance and respect it, but we also have to act in order to preserve life.

For this reason, it is necessary that we not be negligent. Texting and driving, is, quite obviously, extremely negligent. A decision doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the Torah to be considered a Jewish decision. In fact, most Jewish decisions are not explicitly stated. In this case, NFTYites came to their conclusion, through their Jewish education, that texting and driving is not something that we should do as Jews."

From Diana Rose, NFTY-SO:

"This answer could go either way in my opinion. Yes, it is a Jewish pledge because in Judaism, we focus much of our attention on protecting others. When one pledges to not text while driving he or she is protecting him or herself and others from the dangers of visual and thought distracted driving. In other ways said pledge is not a Jewish one. Though it does not go against Judaism, it is not based on Judaism. Drivers should not be texting while driving in the first place, so in a sense, the pledge is initially expected and understood when one gets behind the wheel. As of July 13, 2010, Texting while driving became illegal in 30 States. So would it be considered a Jewish pledge to simply obey the law?"


Join the nearly 600 teens who commited to driving phone free. 
Sign the Pledge!

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