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Tzelem's Philosophy and Values

Tzelem is founded on the Jewish principle that we are all created b’tzelem Elokim - in the image of G-d. 


  • We believe that every person is equally significant before the Divine: all human beings are equal, all human beings are unique, and most importantly all human beings are of infinite value. 


  • We respond to the divine command to create a civil society in the UK that exemplifies our beliefs and values as Jews, as demanded by the mitzvot, our prophets, our ancestral rabbis/teachers, and our texts.  Our Torah demands that we engage with and care about our wider society and matters of justice that affect the vulnerable in our society. 

  • We seek to embrace our history of marginality and persecution in order to stand in solidarity with other persecuted people. 

  • We stand on the margins in order to critique society where it is falling from the ideals of Torah, which champions compassion and fighting for the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised. 


  • We seek textured social justice where we use our texts as drivers in our work for social change, rather than using them to fuel hate, division, discrimination and the abuse of power.


  • We are aware of our privilege as rabbis and cantors and seek to use that privilege to work with others to create social change. 


  • We seek to work with others who are committed to these issues, in an effective and skillful way, always learning and always acting.


  • As Rabbis and Cantors, we use our years of study in order to act.  We pray so that we can pray, not only with our hearts and lips, but with our feet as well.



Underpinning the work Tzelem will do are seven key values:

  • Cross-denominational: Rabbis and Cantors across the UK’s Jewish denominations will share together in this sacred work

  • Non-party political: campaigning will not be linked to any one political party’s views

  • Independent: we will maintain our independence from other cross-communal organisations and denominational umbrella bodies whilst working alongside and with them

  • Safe environment: Tzelem will provide a safe environment for clergy to work together across denominational divides, without judgement, or for groups of the same denomination to work together under the Tzelem banner

  • Collaboration: Tzelem believes that collaboration with other partners is critical to successful campaigning

  • Pro-active: Tzelem will seek out possible new issues of social and economic injustice and find partners with whom to collaborate

  • Relational power: Members will use their networks to maximise the relational power they and Tzelem collectively hold and speak with collective responsibility.

"Do not oppress the stranger for you were strangers in Egypt."

                                    Shemot 22:20


"It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either."

                                 Pirkei Avot 2:21


"The work of justice is the work of people organized for the long haul."

                                     Ed Chambers


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