Tzedakah Series

By Guerrilla Scholars, Outreach, Study
Tzedakah in Hebrew letters

Tzedakah Series

Using the Old Testament to Inform Action & Charity Today

This winter, join us for a five-part seminar examining what the Hebrew tradition of Tzedakah is saying to our communities about action and charity, in light of current policy issues in social justice.

Can’t make them all? That’s okay — join us for any or all of these events, as your schedule permits.

The format

Each seminar is 90 minutes long, broken into three blocks of 30 minutes.

  • Block one is a lecture on the Old Testament by Dr. Sheldon Greaves, our scholar in residence
  • Block two is a lecture on current issues in social justice policy by Dr. Melissa Bird, author and policy expert
  • Block three is an open forum discussion, bringing the two topics together with insights from attendees

The schedule

Simpson Hall
Wednesdays, 6pm — 8:30pm
Potluck supper at 6pm

February 21st

Block one: Care of the vulnerable
Block two: The social safety net
Block three: Open discussion

February 28th

Block one: Lone woman
Block two: Snapshot, 1 in 4 homeless is a woman
Block three: Open discussion

March 7th

Block one: Debt & Jubilee
Block two: Consumer protection policies
Block three: Open discussion

March 14th

Block one: Dispossession of belongings
Block two: Dispossession of household for the homeless or evicted
Block three: Open discussion

March 21st

Block one: Takeaways from Old Testament lectures
Block two: Takeaways from policy lectures
Block three: Open discussion of our call to action

More info

Some of the very earliest Christian texts contain bold calls to protect and relieve the suffering of the vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the prisoner, the orphan, the widow. This drew upon and continued a long corpus of spiritual and moral writings by the Israelite Prophets, and a sizeable body of legislation and case law recorded in the Torah. Ancient Israelite scripture gives us a different and sometimes surprising approach in their definitions of justice, their concerns about the concentration of wealth and power, and the obligations of power towards the powerless.

Today, the vulnerable among us face pressures similar to those of their ancient counterparts.

Wealth inequality, homelessness, debt bondage, and poverty are still with us, as is the moral imperative to do something about it.

But what can we do? What can we learn from our shared spiritual tradition?

This year’s Lenten Lectures will feature joint sessions by Dr. Sheldon Greaves and Dr. Melissa Bird. Sheldon is a scholar in Hebrew Bible, and Melissa is a professor at Portland State University where she teaches Social Justice Advocacy. Together we’ll explore the ancient Hebrew roots of Christianity’s mandate to care for the poor and how it can inform and inspire today’s efforts to mediate the effects of poverty and homelessness, especially in our local community. Each session will include time for discussion and questions.

It promises to be an informative and stimulating series, one that will clarify what we can do as a parish and a community to reduce the suffering of the vulnerable among us.