Hesed and Tzedek: Service and Justice
“Every deed counts.”
-Abraham Joshua Heschel
Ariela and Rabbi Anne Ebersman wrote to the Heschel community, saying: “with Rabbi Heschel's writing and life as inspiration, we are committed to taking a clear anti-racist stance in our curriculum and in our community, and to teaching about the imperative for all of us to take responsibility for systemic racism and injustice, as well as our own racial biases, as Rabbi Heschel demanded.”
Heschel has formed both a Faculty Task Force on Anti-Racism, Curriculum, and Culture and an Alumni Anti-Racism Advisory Council which will work with members of the administrative team.
Hesed and Tzedek
*from Heschel's Educational and Religious Policy Handbook
"A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair." -Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Heschel School commits to the values and actions that defined Rabbi Heschel’s life. As Jews, human beings, and members of a community that bears Rabbi Heschel’s name, we are called upon to bring into our world greater tzedek (צדק—justice) and hesed (חסד—kindness), core Jewish values that are inextricably linked. Rabbi Heschel understood justice as a divine imperative emerging from God’s compassion for humanity.
Honoring Rabbi Heschel’s legacy, The Heschel School creates a community defined by the care and kindness that our students, families, faculty, and staff show one another, and by a shared sense of social responsibility to the greater communities in which we live. We strive to teach and embody the values that are the bedrock of our tradition, and to heed the teaching of the prophet Micah who proclaimed that what is good for human beings is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Like Rabbi Heschel, our greatest passion is compassion. We hope our students follow Rabbi Heschel’s example to become engaged and concerned members of the Jewish community and citizens of the world.
- For our students to know the values and the texts that shape Judaism’s commitment to tzedek and hesed.
- For our students to be empathetic individuals and to act with humility.
- For our students to feel obligated to respond to injustice with action.
- For our students to experience pride and joy when doing acts of kindness and justice.
- For our students to feel gratitude for their ability to contribute to the lives of others.
- For our students to take personal responsibility for their communities and to feel empowered to do so.
- For our students to understand how issues of class, race, and gender give rise to poverty, prejudice, and inequality.
- For our students to develop practices of care and giving that they will maintain throughout their lives.
We work to accomplish our goals through a curriculum that teaches Jewish values related to tzedek and hesed, and that educates our children about systemic issues in society that perpetuate injustice. We strive to create a community that lives the values we study and teach. At Heschel, our students learn to build caring, supportive, and respectful relationships with each other and, as they grow, with the broader communities in which they live. We believe that the personal relationships developed at The Heschel School will strengthen our students’ abilities to relate to others more broadly and to take action on behalf of others.