In a photo that is emblematic of the relationship between the Jewish and Black communities during the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath,
and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel are pictured at the conclusion of the famous march for voting
rights from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rabbi Eisendrath, carrying
the Torah in this photo, provided an invocation at a rally that occurred at
the conclusion of the march. Rabbi Heschel was one of
this centurys great religious figures and a close colleague of Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, 46, is the director of the Religious Action Center
of Reform Judaism. His venerable experience as a community organizer
will forge the vital consensus needed to advance a positive vision for
The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism is a joint body of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union and its affiliates that seeks to apply the insights of Jewish tradition to such domestic and foreign issues as human rights, world peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, famine, poverty, intergroup relations, as well as other major societal concerns. The CSA interprets these policies as necessary to speak to current issues and legislation, and develops the foundation for new resolutions to be adopted by the Union or the CCAR in the future. At times, the Commission adopts resolutions in its own name on issues that are consistent with principles already articulated by the Union or the CCAR, and therefore require no further action by those bodies.
A History of Reform Judaism & Social Action
The core of our insight [as Reform Jews] is that serious Jewish study inevitably leads to the soup kitchen; that serious prayer, among other vital things, is a way of preparing to do battle with injustice, that social justice without being grounded in text, without a sense of Gods presence, is ephemeral and unsustainable. The heart of the argument is that there is no such thing as Social Action Judaism, that the thread of social justice is so authentically and intricately woven into the many-colored fabric we call Judaism that if you seek to pull that thread out, the entire fabric unravels, that the Judaism that results is distorted, is neutered, is rendered aimless. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
To be a Reform Jew is to hear the voice of the prophets in our head; to be engaged in the ongoing work of tikkun olam; to strive to improve the world in which we live.