Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Protecting the dignity of every human being
With pain and discord overflowing this week, we need perspective more than ever. The core value I return to, that underlies all Jewish thought, is this: because every human being is created in the image of G-d, we have an unbreakable commitment to affirm and protect the dignity of every human being.
Last Thursday, before the media storm and the riots, the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) spoke out, reaffirming our commitment to fighting racism and hatred. The statement said: “As Jews, we know personally and painfully the dangers of unchecked hatred. We call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and faiths to speak up now against the poisonous persistence of racism.”
Our JCRC was one of the first in America to stand and be counted because our JCRC never stopped working in coalitions with diverse communities, including co-founding the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate. In fact, that same day, our JCRC Director co-hosted the second in a series of presentations exposing the common roots of racism and antisemitism, in partnership with the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center. (You can watch it here.)
That work will remain central to JCRC’s mission because nothing is more fundamental than the dignity of every human being. This core value reminds us that we must work even harder to reverse the systemic racism embedded in our society. Thank you for supporting the JCRC’s work fighting racism and antisemitism, funded through the Annual Campaign.
We also honor the dignity of every human being through giving or tzedakah.When I agreed to lead a Zoom learning discussion last Thursday night, on Shavuout (or Shavuos), I proposed the topic: “What is the best way to give during a crisis?”
We discussed how the Jewish concept of tzedakah differs from the Western idea of charity. For example, Judaism urges that even a person who is poor should give something—even though the amount won’t make a great difference. Why? Because this person gains dignity as a member of the community of givers—the community that partners with G-d to build a better world.
We also discussed how Maimonides’ ladder of tzedakah is actually 100 percent driven by the question of dignity. That’s why the highest level of giving is making the recipient self-reliant, such as helping them get a job. Therefore, Federation invests some of the tzedakah you give in JVS Career Services’s sacred work of helping people inside and outside our community to find jobs. For example, they recently helped James get a job completely remotely, in the middle of COVID restrictions.
Please, stay safe.