Vision. Lamentation. HOW?

Consider and call for the lamenting-women, that they may come; and send for the wise-women, that they may come. (Jeremiah 9)

img-handsWe are approaching Shabbat Hazon, the annual Jewish “Sabbath of Vision.”

At first glance, the “vision” of this Sabbath seems to be one of impending doom. The Scriptural readings prepare us for Tisha b'Av, our Jewish day of mourning for tragedies through the ages.

On Tisha b'Av itself, we'll read the book that is called Lamentations in English and Eikha in Hebrew. The readings for Shabbat Hazon also highlight the word Eikha—which literally means “How."

In painful, troubled times like these—when so many are lamenting what seems like the absence of vision—how we understand the word "How" may be our key to redemption. LEARN MORE

"Dream Hoarders" and Social Justice

"We need to raise our consciousness about class. And yes, I am looking at you." — Richard V. Reeves

Money and CreationIt's very difficult to talk about the class divisions within "the 99 percent." In "Stop Pretending You're Not Rich," economist Richard V. Reeves highlights the tension between desires for greater social equality and desires to give our own families a competitive edge. Reeves calls this competitive edge "dream hoarding" when applied to the top 20 percent of Americans: those with incomes above six figures.

In global context, invoking "the 20 percent" is only slightly less arbitrary than invoking "the one percent." And debates about how to address inequality tend to get stuck at the level of theory.

But there's an immediate, practical home remedy for "dream hoarding" that leverages small financial actions to bring about big changes. Just-giving — simple and fair, with modifications as appropriate — becomes possible when we set aside a regular percentage of income as our giving rate. Consider this:

  • The average American giving rate has hovered steadily around 2 percent since 1971. (By comparison, a tithe is a 10 percent giving rate.)
  • Giving rates usually shrink as incomes increase. Let's change that!

Generous Justice CoverWant to bring your social justice values into alignment with your financial goals? Include Generous Justice in your summer reading! As recommended in Tablet Magazine, "It’s a guide to social action and philanthropy, and a tool for spiritual growth—a breath mint and a candy mint."

In the comfort of your own home, or while relaxing on vacation, you can stretch mindfully toward the giving rate that's best for you and your family: your fair share with the rest of the world.

LEARN MORE about bringing a Generous Justice event to your community.

Servant-Class Mothers Matter!

We don't usually refer to nannies, housekeepers, and homecare attendants as "servants" these days. But whatever they are called, most domestic employees are still excluded from basic federal labor law protections.

What if our domestic workers were also our mothers?

Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel are usually invoked as the four matriarchs of the Jewish people. But that excludes Bilhah and Zilpah, the domestic servant-mothers of four of Jacob's sons. Bilhah and Zilpah are routinely dismissed as surrogates and concubines, even though Biblical and rabbinic sources affirm them as mothers and wives. Join us on the Festival of Revelation, as we make these invisible women visible. See below for details!

Leah Zilpah Rachel Bilhah

The Intersectional Challenge of Our Servant-Class Matriarchs

When is a “concubine” not a concubine? Here is a Biblical case study of identity and power at the intersection of gender and social class. This session will highlight the ancient rabbinic tradition of "six corresponding to the six matriarchs,” as we consider the servant-class mothers of one-third of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. We will examine their relationships with the co-wives / possibly half-sisters who remain their primary mistresses. We will explore ways to move beyond our own social biases toward a more inclusive understanding of our ancestors for today’s complicated times. And yes, we will uncover authentic, intersectional options for evolving that Seder counting song forward. LEARN MORE!

What Really Counts, Revisited: Ballad of the Budget Bank

For many of us, money is even more daunting than mortality. At a recent gathering of Jewish burial fellowship leaders and friends, I was invited to talk about Generous Justice and how important it is to reclaim our family money stories. "We never discussed these things in my family," ventured one of my listeners — whereupon another one responded, "Oh, we had a budget box growing up!"

Tudor Budget Bank AdI was excited to learn about this artifact of family frugality from the decades before I was born. More sophisticated than a piggy bank or a pushke (tzedakah box), the budget bank was invented to fund multiple priorities. It was popular from the beginning of the Great Depression through the 1950s, when spending — especially on credit — began to replace saving as the dominant cultural value.

When I told the group that one of the cultural goals of Generous Justice is to promote songs that reflect healthy approaches to money, a third listener began spontaneously singing from childhood memory: "Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters...all the joy that we can bring / to the lives of other children / with our weekly offering!"

In a world where finances have become computerized abstractions, the old-fashioned budget bank offers tangible inspiration for more mindful saving, spending, and sharing. And, while nobody has yet invented a budget-bank-music-box, that Hebrew School song seems as good a soundtrack as any.

Now, how can we help our "adult" songs — and finances — catch up with the kids?

As We Count the Days of the Omer, Let's Make Tithing Count, Too

Don't wait for those last-minute charitable disbursements in December. This season of daily counting is a perfect time to experience the liberation and revelation of just-giving. By sharing our family money stories, we can move toward more conscious sharing of the money itself — and our day-to-day generosity really does add up. LEARN MORE

Donate ButtonWAYS OF PEACE donates at least 10 percent of net staff compensation to other organizations that uphold our core mandates of promoting justice and kindness across lines of diversity. Please support our work today!

Look Out — Here It Comes!

It's coming. Not just the intensive cleaning, shopping and cooking, but that annual money milestone we call Tax Day.

As IRS deadlines loom over our Passover preparations, the words of the prophet Malachi will ring out in Jewish communities throughout the world. On the "Great Sabbath" before the festival, Malachi dares us to stretch beyond occasional donations toward ongoing distributive justice:

"Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse, that there be food in My house, and so test Me in this" — said the Eternal-One of all-forces — "if I will not open the gates of heaven and pour upon you blessing without limit."


TithingWe don't need a belief in God to face this test as a social justice challenge. A tithe is a giving rate — a percentage of income that most of us don't consciously document. But year after year, our tax returns show that giving rates generally shrink as incomes and affluence increase. That uncomfortable truth should concern anyone preparing to say: "Let all who are hungry come and eat."

As our Haggadah also reminds us, "This year we are still slaves." Now more than ever, we need to vote with the power of our own wallets against widening income inequality, which enslaves all of us.


Generous Justice Cover
How will this Passover be different from other Passovers? Try bringing Generous Justice: Jewish Wisdom for Just-Giving to your seder table questions. As recommended in Tablet Magazine, it's "a lively tool for book clubs and investment clubs, synagogues, families, seders with friends."

Order Generous Justice now to insure delivery in time for the holiday! (OK, those in the NYC area have a bit more time. You can purchase Generous Justice directly from Ways of Peace, without sales tax or shipping charges.)

CountingDays_Cover07Plan ahead for revelation! Complete your holiday preparations with Counting Days, a unique guide for each day between Passover and Shavu'ot that integrates Mussar (Jewish ethical development) with contemporary principles of spiritual recovery.

Counting Days is also available by mail order or by direct purchase from Ways of Peace.

Sober Awakening (and Not Just for Drinkers)

Rabbah and Rabbi Zeira made a Purim feast together. They got drunk, and Rabbah rose and cut Rabbi Zeira’s throat. The next day he prayed and revived him. The following year Rabbah said: Come and let us make a Purim feast together! Rabbi Zeira replied: Not on every occasion does a miracle occur. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah 7b)

Recent decades have seen a renewal of Mussar (spiritual discipline) among Jews of diverse backgrounds — while countless Jewish addicts, family members, and friends across the denominational spectrum have found healing through the Twelve Steps of recovery. Much can be learned from those who live by the Twelve Steps about how to apply the principles of Mussar to the challenges of daily life.

CountingDays_Cover07COUNTING DAYS: From Liberation to Revelation for Jews in Recovery guides readers through the season of spiritual development between Passover and Shavuot with daily reflections on Twelve Step principles, integrated with classical Jewish teachings.

It's a resource for students of Mussar and Jewish mysticism, chaplains, spiritual directors, synagogue leaders, Jewish Family Service staff, and all who care about healing the scourge of addiction within the Jewish community and beyond.

Order COUNTING DAYS now to insure delivery before Passover!*

*Those in the greater NYC area can purchase COUNTING DAYS directly from Ways of Peace, without sales tax or shipping charges.

Contact us about hosting a COUNTING DAYS book program in your community! We can donate a percentage of the proceeds for each book sold to your hosting synagogue or other nonprofit organization.

Sanctuary: Expanded and Balanced


"Let them make for Me a sanctuary,
and I will dwell in their midst." — Exodus 25:8

Clouds through IronworkThe word "sanctuary" carries a range of meanings, from worship hall to wildlife preserve and beyond. In recent weeks, the word has taken on added urgency as American cities and communities organize to renew a sanctuary movement on behalf of refugees and immigrants.

A sanctuary is a place that is both safe and sacred. Safety is a core human need, and the ultimate challenge is how to expand our sanctuaries for the widest possible inclusion of those among us.

Those in the Capital District of New York are invited to join us in March for a weekend of special programs that begin to address this challenge.


March 3-5 at Congregation Ohav Shalom in Albany, New York

We are taught that the world stands on a tripod of study, worship, and caring actions. When our communities run on the two legs of study and worship, the third leg of caring is often shortened. Yet the third leg is the only one that can support us “on one foot.” Come explore a new equilibrium that balances kindness and justice, as we make sanctuaries for these challenging times. LEARN MORE

"Generous" Review and Book Launch Party!

"How to Give Jewishly—and Be Financially Smart—in the New Year"

Marjorie Ingall in Tablet Magazine, 12/30/16

Generous Justice Cover"Generous Justice is a resource for learning about Jewish philosophy as well as personal finance. It’s a guide to social action and philanthropy, and a tool for spiritual growth—a breath mint and a candy mint. It’s full of quotations about money and generosity from such diverse sources as the books of Isaiah and Deuteronomy, the writings of Maimonides, the Babylonian Talmud, the Chofetz Chayim, Suze Orman, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, and 17-year-old Hannah Salwen. Because the format consists of short readings and discussion questions, I can see it working as a lively tool for book clubs and investment clubs, synagogues, families, seders with friends." READ MORE

From Spare Change to Social Change: Book Launch Party for GENEROUS JUSTICE

Sunday, January 22nd at 6:30 PM 
East Midwood Jewish Center

1625 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Amidst all the uncertainty of this new political era, one thing is certain: whatever our social values may be, our financial support is needed to realize them. How can we mobilize our financial power most effectively, guided by Jewish values?

Join Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips on the eve of her father's 16th yahrtzeit for a "Torah-on-one-foot" taste of GENEROUS JUSTICE: Jewish Wisdom for Just-Giving, which is dedicated in his memory. Copies of this unique and just-published sourcebook will be available for sale and signing (without sales tax or shipping charges) after Rabbi Regina leads the brief ma'ariv / evening service at 7:30 PM.

Please CONTACT US about hosting a GENEROUS JUSTICE book launch party in your community. Depending upon arrangements, we may be able to donate a portion of the proceeds for each book sold to your hosting organization.

Money and Justice in the News

We have met the funders, and they!

The Forward, 12/19/16

The corner bar on my street is taking a tithe. Its sidewalk chalkboard announces that 10% of all weekend income in December will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kurt Hoffman
The bar is on to something. Amid all the uncertainty of this new political era, one thing is certain: Whatever our social values may be, our financial support is needed to realize them. Tzedakah is a financial variant of the Hebrew word for “justice,” and can be understood as “just-giving”: We should just give, and we should give justly. (...)

Tzedakah has never been a spectator sport, and it has never been the exclusive province of elites. What would happen if more of us approached our personal Jewish funding decisions as part of an empowered grassroots mobilization of individual wallets — a real force for change? (...) READ MORE

Thanks to Don Abramson and Allison Kade for inspiration and insights.

Hope, Renewal, and Just-Giving: Support WAYS OF PEACE!

These are painful times of fear, anger, and divisiveness. Yet mindful responses to shared human needs continue to bring out the best in people on all sides. Hope and renewal are available — and the choices are ours.

img-handsPlease support WAYS OF PEACE Community Resources as you plan your year-end giving. Now more than ever, we need your partnership to promote peaceful coexistence, justice and kindness through community learning, personal guidance, and innovative resources for contemporary life challenges.

In 2016 we reached new milestones with the publication of our first two books, COUNTING DAYS and GENEROUS JUSTICE.* We were called to facilitate challenging conversations, expanding dialogue and support among leaders and community members. We continued to guide individuals and families through both joyous and sorrowful changes in their lives.

WAYS OF PEACE depends upon our network of individual supporters who share our vision. We have not yet received any foundation support for our pioneering model of social microenterprise. We hope you will be generous, and we promise to extend your generosity even further.*

Make your end-of-year gift to WAYS OF PEACE today!

*Just Published Guide for Just-Giving

Generous Justice CoverWhatever our visions and hopes for the world may be, our financial support is needed to realize them. Bringing together sustainability, social action, and spirituality with personal finance, GENEROUS JUSTICE is a unique one-stop guide to more effective giving throughout the year: simple, regular, and fair.

Order GENEROUS JUSTICE now — for a holiday gift that keeps "just-giving!"

Those in NYC can purchase GENEROUS JUSTICE directly from WAYS OF PEACE, without sales tax or shipping charges. Contact us for further information while supplies last!

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