Office of the Chief Rabbi

Social Responsibility

Descartes said, “I think therefore I am”. Jewish tradition teaches, “I give therefore I am”.

Feeling a sense of responsibility to reach out to those around us, whether near or far, is a fundamental Jewish precept. Research shows that 93% of the Jewish community make charitable donations, compared to a national average of 79%. The number of charities and voluntary organisations connected to the Jewish community in the UK would be impossible to quantify but some estimates place it in the thousands.

The great Jewish sage, Ben Azzai taught that the most important verse in the Bible is Genesis Chapter 5 Verse 1, which teaches that God created man in His own image. We must recognise the essence of every human being is one of holiness and we are responsible to some degree for their well-being. The Talmud teaches that if there is a person who believes in God but does not act in ways of lovingkindness, it is as if that person has no God. The Chief Rabbi has made it a particular priority to call attention to the plight of those in need of our support, whether that be the needy in our own community or wider society, our brethren in Israel, victims of child abuse, refugees desperately seeking peace and shelter or orphans living in the slums north of Mumbai, to name but a few.

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