download:posterGo to Tool Kit > Proudly JewishSelect by:ArtistAuthorQuoteArtistAuthorQuoteFrames of MindMasters SeriesMaster tabPoster Commentary"Judaism is about sanctifying life."Rabbi Lord Jonathan SacksPoster design:Ilene Winn-LedererCommentary by Dr. Marc Kramer We have all heard the canard that whereas Christianity is a religion of faith, Judaism is a religion of law. This always struck me as an odd claim. The church is replete with rules and truly, where would we Jews be without our faith—our emunah—our individual and collective will to always believe that better lies just ahead, within reach, if only we would stretch? Far more satisfying—in fact, deeply gratifying—is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s notion that Judaism is in its essence about sanctifying life. The Hebrew word l’kadesh means the conscious, willful act of making something holy, setting aside and transforming the mundane into a vehicle for joyfully acknowledging the Creator of the universe. Judaism, thus, seeks to endow life with holiness. The sanctification of life begins with a commitment to choose it. In Deuteronomy (30:19) we learn: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, choose life, that you may live.” Life above all. Jewish tradition gives forth the concept of pikuach nefesh, setting aside all commitments and commandments for the sake of saving a life. Life is so sacred that it is valued above law. The Deuteronomy verse likens life to blessing. In a world where LIFE = BLESSING, we see that life is not only about existing, but about filling our lives with holy purpose. Living one’s life to the fullest means filling one’s life with meaning and mitzvot. Easy to say; hard to do. Might be time to stretch. Dr. Marc Kramer is the executive director of RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, and serves as an educational consultant and group facilitator for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services of New York. He holds masters’ degrees in social work, education, and Jewish studies, and completed his doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Dr. Kramer is the author of several major studies on Jewish day school education and was the 2007 recipient of the Covenant Award. Conversation Guide What do you THINK? 1. Who is responsible for sanctifying life, God or man? 2. In what ways do you add holiness to daily life? Are there parts of your daily life that do not feel sanctified? Why? 3. Rabbi Sacks states that Judaism is about sanctifying life. How would you have completed the sentence: “Judaism is about _________”? What do you SEE? 1. What are all of the ways that “life” is expressed in this poster? 2. How is “sanctification” represented in the image? 3. What is unusual about the tree and its setting, and how do these features enrich your understanding of the quote? Copyright© 2015 Harold Grinspoon Foundation Please use this guide creatively in your programs. We’d also love to see what you’re doing and share it with others, so please post on our website using the Share button in The Exchange. Credits Proudly Jewish©2015, Ilene Winn-Lederer, Quote: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA AuthorRabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks1948–presentLives in LondonAuthor, Former Chief Rabbi of United KingdomAbout Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a world-renowned scholar, author, and philosopher. He served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Rabbi Sacks is currently a professor of Jewish thought at New York University and Yeshiva University. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards, and was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen of England and awarded life peerage and a seat in the House of Lords. Rabbi Sacks is the author of tens of books, including annotated prayer books for the major holidays, and is the recipient of many literary awards. He is a sought-after lecturer and scholar, and is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary rabbis. Links Writings and interviews - Jonathan Sacks Media Learning with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks ArtistIlene Winn-LedererPittsburgh PAIllustratorAuthorAbout Ilene Winn-Lederer is an author and illustrator whose images blend the mundane, whimsical, and mystical. The online Magic Eye Gallery showcases many of her original works and custom gicleé prints. Her Jewish works include Between Heaven and Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary and, most recently, An Illumination of Blessings (a Kickstarter-funded project), in which Winn-Lederer offers images and commentaries depicting 36 ritual blessings. Winn-Lederer attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and is a member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators. Her clients include leading newspapers, periodicals, and publishing houses. Links Ilene Winn-Lederer's Website Quote"Judaism is about sanctifying life."Rabbi Lord Jonathan SacksContext The generation of American Jews raised on a diet of Holocaust education is deciding, at the rate of one in two, not to hand on Jewish identity to their children... If Jews and Judaism are to continue, the ambivalence many still feel about a faith and fate associated with suffering and persecution will have to be resolved. Jews will have to learn to walk tall; to recover the self-confidence, born of faith, that sustained Jews in the past; to remember that Judaism is about sanctifying life, not just commemorating death. Source Source of quote: Sacks, Rabbi Lord Jonathan. Future Tense: Jews, Judaism and Israel in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Schocken Books, 2009, page 60. Hebrew "מהותה של היהדות היא קידוש החיים." -הרב הלורד יונתן זקס Select by Artist Ofra Amit Ruah Edelstein Chana Helen Rosenberg Mordechai Rosenstein Arnold Schwartzman Ilene Winn-Lederer Select by Author Rabbi Rachel Cowan Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Golda Meir Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Lynn Schusterman Select by Quote "A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of faith." "Judaism is founded on human faith and divine promise that the world can be perfected." "Judaism is about sanctifying life." "Serving others is one of the pillars upon which Judaism rests." "We hate war. We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown, and when strawberries bloom in Israel." "I am blessed to be a voyager on an ancient pathway." Select by Artist Ofra Amit Ruah Edelstein Chana Helen Rosenberg Mordechai Rosenstein Arnold Schwartzman Ilene Winn-Lederer Select by Author Rabbi Rachel Cowan Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Golda Meir Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Lynn Schusterman Select by Quote "Serving others is one of the pillars upon which Judaism rests." "Judaism is founded on human faith and divine promise that the world can be perfected." "A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of faith." "We hate war. We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown, and when strawberries bloom in Israel." "Judaism is about sanctifying life." "I am blessed to be a voyager on an ancient pathway."