Rabbi Jill Jacobs discusses social justice issues at an Oct. 26 lecture
Jacobs' lecture touched on issues such as modern day slavery and the role of Jewish tradition in today's fight for social justice.
Jacobs used the plight of tomato pickers in Florida to highlight social justice issues in her lecture titled, "Taking Judaism Public: What Traditional Wisdom Can Teach America."
When tomato pickers banned together to protest oppressive work conditions, rabbis and businessmen joined their efforts. According to Jacobs, their decision to protest alongside the tomato pickers was informed by Jewish tradition, which calls for followers to take up the cause of those who are oppressed.
Jacobs serves as executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, an organization of rabbis who mobilize their communities to protect human rights.
She delivered the lecture as part of the Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies program, established by Elon parents Lori and Eric Sklut of Charlotte, N.C. and the Levine-Sklut Family Foundation.
“The Sklut family's generosity will allow Elon to host many impressive Jewish Studies scholars over the years to come,” said Assistant Professor Geoffrey Claussen, the current Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies. “These speakers will deeply enrich our community's understanding of Jewish history, literature, culture, and ethics. We are delighted to open our speaker series with Rabbi Jacobs.”
Junior Kyla Sokoll-Ward looked forward to attending the lecture by Jacobs, who is well known for her writing on Judaism and social justice.
“Rabbi Jacobs’ lecture on ancient religion and its place in the modern sphere is especially relevant at Elon, because of our focus on service learning and how students can make the world a better place through our studies,” said Sokoll-Ward. “Thinking critically about how religion fits into our lives in a modern context and how we can use it to improve not only ourselves but the world is a very powerful and important thing to do.“
Jacobs is the author of “Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community” and “There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition.”