How do we define Jewish economic justice, and how should
our definitions play out in the context of political action? This three-part
course analyzes how Jewish values relate to economic policy-making. In
the first session, Rabbi
David Saperstein, a reform Rabbi and activist leader of the reform
movement's Religious Action Center in Washington D.C. will discuss modalities
of economic justice. Then, in the second session, Rabbi
Barry Freundel, an orthodox rabbi, political conservative, and long-time
debate partner of Rabbi Saperstein, will present an ethics of money based
on Jewish texts. In the final session, the two will debate the question:
is Jewish economic justice more compatible with a politically conservative
or a politically liberal position?
This mini-course includes three, 1-hour presentations, which were recorded in December 2003. Each session is accompanied by a set of materials. The sessions are as follows:
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Rabbi David Saperstein is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Described in a recent profile in the Washington Post as the “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” he represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration. Over his 28 year tenure as director of the Center, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several religious coalitions and currently serves on the boards of numerous national organizations including the NAACP and People For the American Way, and co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, comprised of over 60 national religious denominations and educational organizations opposing school prayer amendments and legislation. In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom created by a unanimous vote of Congress. Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in both First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School. A prolific writer and speaker, Rabbi Saperstein has appeared on a number of television news and talk shows including Nightline, Oprah, Lehrer News Hour and ABC’s Sunday Morning. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times and his latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time (link to Amazon.com).
Rabbi Saperstein is married to Ellen Weiss, senior editor of the national news desk at National Public Radio. They have two sons, Daniel and Ari.
Rabbi Barry Freundel leads Congregation Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C. and is the Assistant Professor of Rabbinics at Baltimore Hebrew University. Rabbi Freundel earned his BA from Yeshiva University and a BS from the Erna Michael College of Hebraic Studies MS. He received rabbinic ordination from the Bernard Revel Graduate School Rabbinic Ordination, RIETS, Yeshiva University. He has written Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's Response to Modernity published by KTAV 2003 (link to Amazon.com).