Statement on the City of Philadelphia

Image of a painting of people in a neighborhood.

(Adopted 1996)

L'Adonai ha-aretz um l'oa. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. --Torah

The Divine origin of wealth is the central principle of Jewish economic philosophy. Since Judaism is a community oriented rather than an individual oriented religion, this means that the group at all levels is thereby a partner in each individual's wealth. (Meir Tamari)

As a Reconstructionist congregation, inspired by the prophetic Jewish vision of a just society —a society that takes care of all of its members— Mishkan Shalom is committed to combating the structures of poverty that oppress and impose impenetrable walls of isolation on the poor. Our Jewish heritage teaches us this:

  1. All wealth belongs to God, and human beings are permitted to use it only as stewards of God and in consonance with the values we attribute to God.
  2. Material prosperity is a blessing, but it is a blessing that contains within it the twin dangers of selfishness and greed.
  3. We bear a collective responsibility as a spiritual community —a covenant— to the larger community.
  4. The test of our community —of any community— is in how we treat our most vulnerable.

And our Jewish heritage also teaches us this: that justice demands that all people have access to employment, to housing, to health care, to safety, to education, to social insurance, and to rest and leisure.

Together, these spiritual commitments should serve as a concrete guide for our vision of a just society in the modern world.

Though our pursuit of justice is universal, based on the rabbinic teaching that "the poor of your city should take precedence," Mishkan Shalom will dedicate itself to working to combat the structures of poverty that exist in the Philadelphia region. We are committed to an ethic of mutual care and interdependence that overwhelms boundaries of class and geography. We are concerned about the separation between city and suburbs, between rich and poor, and we believe that the responsibility of providing for all the residents in the region should be shared by all. It is out of our belief in the interdependence of urban and suburban, rich and poor, that we are dedicated to the pursuit of economic and social justice for all residents of the Philadelphia region.

This dedication will guide and inform us as we seek to work in partnership with other religious and civic groups to make Philadelphia a just and humane place for all of its inhabitants.

4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / Site map