"Elul-vator" Speeches

It's not easy to give an "elevator speech" about money or death.

We are honored that two core programs of WAYS OF PEACE have been accepted as semi-finalists by the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom. Since each program submission included an "elevator speech"—and since both are relevant to Elul, the month of turning and spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe—we would like to share our "Elul-vator" speeches with you.

Generous Justice: Jewish Wisdom for Just-Giving

All Hands InIn a world struggling with climate change and extreme financial inequality, it’s time to turn the tithe! Rooted in our ancient cycles of shmita / release, the Jewish practices of just-giving—simple, regular, and fair—are accessible to all of us. The earth can rest from our relentless consumption as we channel more of our money toward the repair of our world. Bringing together concern for the poor and vulnerable with concern for the planet, Generous Justice is the only organized Jewish presence among today’s transformative philanthropy initiatives for just-giving. LEARN MORE

Sacred Undertaking: A Natural Return to the Earth

Park Paths Diverge
Our deaths impact our climate and natural ecosystems through human funeral decisions—each emotional, social, economic and environmental consideration influencing all the others. The emerging “green" burial movement affirms the ancient Jewish wisdom of the hevra kadisha / sacred burial fellowship. Sacred Undertaking reclaims the hevra kadisha as integral to a truly caring community—preserving vital natural resources, affirming human equality, supporting each other, taming our fears of death, and renewing the circle of life. LEARN MORE

The month of Elul is a traditional time for just-giving disbursements. Please know that all of our combined efforts help pave the paths to peace in our time, and our world needs what you have to offer.

With many blessings for the Season of Turning and the New Year ahead,

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
for WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources

9/11: Fifteen Years — On One Foot

World on Three LegsAccording to a classic Jewish teaching, the world stands on a tripod of study, worship/work, and caring actions. Under ordinary circumstances, our communities tend to run on the two legs of study and worship/work. The third leg of caring actions is usually shortened to save time.

Yet caring actions represent the only "leg" that can support us reliably over the long term. This is reflected in another classic teaching about a man who approached the sage Hillel, and asked to be taught the entire Torah while standing on one foot.

Hillel's response was decisive: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your counterpart. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary — go and learn!"

On the 15th anniversary of tragedies that shook our cities, our nations and our world, we remember when caring actions moved just as decisively to the forefront of our concern. In the hours, days and weeks that followed September 11th, 2001, we showed up; we volunteered; we shared; we sang; we grieved; we comforted. We bore witness and sustained each other "on one foot" of the tripod.
Stephan Farfler - 1655
This 15th anniversary of 9/11/01 calls us to reconfigure our global tripod — perhaps as a tricycle, in order to move forward more effectively. The tricycle actually evolved from the first wheelchair, invented by a disabled 17th-century watchmaker named Stephan Farffler.

Can we reorganize our communities to move with caring actions as our leading wheel, while the two wheels of study and worship/work move back to supporting roles?

If we accept this challenge, we may find ourselves moving more slowly and mindfully through a frenzied world — and also more surely on the paths of kindness and justice. LEARN MORE