“We build truth, integrity, beauty, and goodness according to our own measure.” ― Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
For over 3,500 years, Jews have been telling themselves, their children, and the rest of the world: Be good. Be kind. Be honest. Be ethical. Be moral. It is the most essential message in human history, and we are the people who were chosen to deliver it, to be as the prophet Isaiah said, or lagoyim, “a light unto the nations.”
This summer, as we have every summer for the past eight years, we will gather to celebrate the JCC Maccabi Games®. We will compete–sometimes win, sometimes lose–meet new friends, and get to know Jews from around the world.
This unique event is not only about being a part of the Jewish people; it comes with a mission– to make the world a better place and to make ourselves better people. We express these values to help us remember the greater mission of the Games and Judaism.
Tikkun Olam –תיקון עולם – Repairing the World
Shimon (the son of Rabban Gamliel) says:
It is not what one says, but rather what one does, that makes all the difference in the world.
Pirkei Avot 1:17
שמעון בנו אומר… ולא המדרש הוא העיקר אלא המעשה
פרקי אבות 1:17
The Hebrew phrase tikkun olam means “repairing the world.” In modern Jewish circles, tikkun olam has become synonymous with the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice.
Kavod –כבוד – Respect
Rabbi Yishmael says, “Be yielding to your elder, be pleasant with the young, and greet every person with joy.”
Pirkei Avot 3:16
רבי ישמעאל אומר, הוי קל לראש ונוח לתשחורת, והוי מקבל כול אדם בשמחה
פרקי אבות 3:16
Judaism teaches us to treat ourselves and others with respect. Even a stranger is to be treated with respect. Kavod is a feeling of regard for the rights, dignity, feelings, wishes and abilities of others. Teasing, name calling, and bullying disrespects and hurts everyone; we must learn to appreciate people for who they are.
Rina – רינה – Joy
Serve God with joy!
Rebbe Nachman teaches, “It is a great mitzvah to be happy always.” (Likutey Moharan II, 24)
מצווה להיות בשמחה תמיד!
רבי נחמן מאומן
Being happy isn’t always easy; life has its disappointments and frustrations. But finding joy can be as simple as a beautiful sunset, dinner with friends, or finally winning that gold medal.
Ga’ava – גאווה – Pride
“One must show the way by experience.” ― David Ben Gurion
Pride is the feeling of being confident in the world. It is reaching your full potential and claiming your space: I exist. I have worth. I give back. Taking pride and honoring our bodies is a way of honoring God.
Lev Tov – לב טוב – Big Hearted
The desire to be good to all… this is the internal core of the essence of the Jewish soul. ― Rabbi Kook
הרצון להיות טוב לכול… זה הגרעין הפנימי של מהות נשמת ישראל
Welcoming others is an essential component of what it means to be Jewish. With open hearts, we invite friends and family to our homes on Shabbat, holidays, or a regular weekday evening to share a meal, stories, and traditions. Kindness is at the core of being a mensch—a true human being.
Amiut Yehudit –עמיות יהודית – Jewish Peoplehood
Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh- “All Israel is responsible for one another.”- כול ישראל ערבים זה בזה
Talmud Shevuot 39a
Amiut yehudit is the awareness of the underlying unity that makes an individual Jew part of the Jewish people. This includes the sense of belonging and commitment to the Jewish people, their values, their big ideas, and their potential, as well as to Israel, the expression of national sovereignty.