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Why Does the World Need a Social Justice Torah Commentary?

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Rabbi Barry H. Block serves Congregation B’nai Israel in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Houston native and graduate of Amherst College, Rabbi Block was ordained in 1991 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (NY). A Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, block is the editor of “The Mussar Torah Commentary” (CCAR Press, 2020), a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award; and of “The Social Justice Torah Commentary” (coming from CCAR Press in November, 2021). He is the faculty dean of URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp, a role he previously held for twenty-one years at URJ Greene Family Camp. Rabbi Block is a former Board Chair of Planned Parenthood of South Texas. He is the proud father of Robert and Daniel.

Rabbi Mary L. Zamore is the Executive Director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, a partner organization of the Reform Movement. For over 40 years, WRN has worked to promote safety and equity, while also supporting member rabbis. As part of her WRN work, Rabbi Zamore is the co-leader of the Reform Pay Equity Initiative and founded WRN’s Clergy: Safe Employees and Employers program, which promotes a respectful and harassment-free Jewish community for all. 

She is the editor of The Sacred Exchange: Creating a Jewish Money Ethic (CCAR Press, 2019) and The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic (CCAR Press, 2011), designated a finalist by the National Jewish Book Awards.

 Rabbi Craig Lewis was ordained in 2008 by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He served congregations in Irvine, CA and Lincoln, NE before settling in Chattanooga where he is in his fifth year of leading the historic Mizpah Congregation. Rabbi Lewis is passionate about social justice, interfaith dialogue, and imparting ethics within the framework of Torah education. In addition to his congregational duties, he serves as a volunteer chaplain for the Chattanooga Police Department. Among his many interests are Jewish humor, Disney history and trivia, and cheering for his favorite sports teams, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Royals, and the Kansas Jayhawks. 

What does the Torah have to say about social justice? As the contributors to “The Social Justice Commentary” demonstrate, a great deal. Learn with the book’s editor, Rabbi Barry Block, and contributors to the book, who delve deeply into weekly parashiyot, drawing lessons to inspire tikkun olam. Contemporary issues addressed include racism, climate change, mass incarceration, Zionism, disability rights, women’s rights, voting rights, and more.