Reposted with thanks to the blog of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.
As a hospice volunteer with the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center and a chaplain intern at a local hospital, Rabbi “Yitz” Greenberg’s teachings from my Heritage Summer Institute more than 10 years ago, remain some of the most meaningful from my two years of study. So, I was delighted to find out that “Yitz” was going to be in town to speak to Wexner alumni and teach at Bay Area Limmud. I took advantage of both opportunities to see my old teacher teach.
Rabbi Greenberg wanted to speak to the Bay Area Wexner alumni about the Ethics of Jewish Power. In particular, he was focused on Israel, as a national power. Rabbi Greenberg argued that, as a minority and oppressed people, Jews needed to be empowered in order to survive. The state of Israel is a result. The question now is, how to maintain that power in an ethical way, and how to maximize the good that power can afford while minimizing the bad that inevitably comes with having power. These questions do not only apply to Israel, but to all powerbrokers, in all settings.
Rabbi Greenberg argues that it is necessary for the Jewish state and diaspora to grapple with the questions of ethical power not only for our survival but as an example for others — to be a “light among the nations.” Concerning Israel, in order to maintain or strive to maintain ethical power, he said that there must be political freedom with multiple political parties, judicial review, a free press, a strong cultural tradition (which requires care/concern for the marginalized), and pluralism.
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Linda Kalinowski, WHP Alum (San Francisco 03), began her career in public service after briefly practicing law. She has served as the chair of Brandeis Hillel Day School, the co-chair of strategic planning at the Jewish Community Relations Council and a Hospice Volunteer for the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. For over 15 years she has advocated on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and is currently the Board Chair of Shalom Bayit, the Bay Area Jewish agency which provides service to domestic violence survivors, youth prevention education and community outreach. Linda graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BA in biology, from Harvard School of Public Health with a Master’s in Industrial Hygiene and from Hasting College of the Law with a JD. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.