Welcome to Emor, the Institute for Bold Jewish Thought. We’re excited you’re here to join the conversation about the big Jewish ideas that can help reshape our world.
Humanity is facing a series of interlocking crises that are bringing us to a breaking point. Authoritarian leaders and populist movements threaten democracy in the U.S. and abroad. Those who dream of a white, Christian, male-dominated nation are fomenting a backlash against advances in racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigrants’ rights. Powerful billionaires and corporations trample on the rights of workers in pursuit of profit. And climate change threatens us all.
We need a bridge from trauma to healing, from old ways of thinking to a new future, and from the politics of fear to a world driven by hope and love. Emor is here to build that bridge.
The Jewish people, who have survived so many crises in our history and thrived nonetheless, have a rich treasury of insight and experience to offer our world. For thousands of years, Jews have debated the most consequential questions: how to create a just society, how to ensure the dignity and well-being of all people, how to engage with political authorities and build just political structures, and how to lead a meaningful life. Our community’s responses to these questions are contained in our sacred texts, our legal writings, our history books, our liturgy, our theology, our literature, and our art. Emor will draw on these generations of wisdom to offer direction for this moment and the future.
Emor, Hebrew for “Speak!,” reminds us that words create worlds. We seek to empower individuals to speak up more effectively in the crucial debates of our day and to harness speech as a springboard for action. It’s also the name of a Torah portion where we read about the Jewish holiday cycle, one of the primary ways we live out our values and history. This is a core part of Emor’s orientation. Our big ideas are not just words hanging in space but are meant to be lived, tried on, put into practice in the real world–and revised when we find we haven’t gotten something quite right.
We look forward to learning with and from you, to challenging our preconceptions and broadening our horizons, and to moving our society in the direction of justice and sustainability.
See you out there,
Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson