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Seeking social justice is our tradition | Worship


Last updated 2/17/2021 at 1:07pm

Like all other religions Judaism comes in several flavors.

There are the familiar Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements. Less well known denominations include Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal, Modern Orthodox, and Secular Humanist.

Reform Judaism, as a liberal and progressive arm of Judaism, calls on its members to be politically progressive and social-justice oriented.

For Reform Jews, the Jewish ethical tradition prevails over the obligations of Jewish law.

That doesn’t mean we reject generations of teachings in the Torah. We still maintain faith in the Covenant between God and Israel.

However, for Reform Judaism the mandate of tikkun olam is our living expression of what it means to be Jewish.

Tikkun olam is the commandment to perform acts of kindness to improve the world.

That’s why insisting on social justice is a primary concept practiced at Temple Beth Or.

Temple Beth Or, the only synagogue in Snohomish County, is affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism, the umbrella organization for Reform Judaism in North America.

The Union for Reform Judaism strives to create a more whole, just, and compassionate world through religious action. In addition to motivating people to be more engaged in Jewish life and to create inclusive Jewish communities, the Union also agitates for a more progressive society.

The Religious Action Center, an organ of the Union for Reform Judaism, identifies advocacy issues for Reform Jews to follow as we pursue tikkun olam.

The list of issues is comprehensive. Many of them center around protecting civil rights and liberties. That means fighting for racial justice, LGBTQ equality, disability rights, women’s rights, voting rights, and reproduction health and rights.

Also making the list is addressing climate change and protecting the environment, protecting immigrants, and fighting anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate crime.

As a Reform synagogue, Temple Beth Or practices tikkun olam through its Social Action Committee, which has a long history of offering educational events to the TBO community, to all of Snohomish County, and to the greater Seattle area Jewish community.

The TBO Social Action Committee frequently takes its cues from the Religious Action Center.

Major projects undertaken included a Faith Family and Homelessness Project, which were sponsored by Seattle University. The TBO part of the project included multiple speakers and an immersive workshop to help congregants understand the impacts homelessness has on families. It also included travelling to Olympia with other Snohomish County religious organizations to advocate for homeless families.

The Social Action Committee created a “Protecting Our Waters” program, with assistance from the Everett Community Colleges ORCA program, to educate the congregation about how important the health of water is in all of our lives.

To combat White nationalism and the racism and anti-Semitism it promotes, Temple Beth Or hosted two events open to the greater Snohomish County community. The larger event brought over 100 attendees to the PUD auditorium in Everett to hear renowned expert Eric Ward of the Western States Center speak about a far reaching program on responding to White nationalism.

The second event was also open to the greater community. Called “No Not Ever”, participants at the event learned concrete and creative tools to counter White nationalism.

This is only a glimpse of Temple Beth Or’s efforts to repair the world by promoting social justice. Visit the synagogue’s website at to learn more.


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