Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence
for the Children of the World

Resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis, May 1999

Background:
In Pirkei Avot (1:12) we read that Hillel taught, "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursing it, loving your fellow creatures, and drawing them near to the Torah." Of the pursuit of peace we learn (B'midbar Rabbah, Hukkat 19:27) that for all other Mitzvot we perform them when the occasion arises, but the pursuit of peace requires us not only to seek peace in our own place but to seek it in another, as it is written, "Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalms 34:15) Of the Torah the Talmud teaches (Gittin 59b) that the entire Torah was given for the sake of pursuing peace, as it is written, "and all her paths are peace." (Proverbs 3:18)

Not only our spiritual and ethical traditions but our historical experience tell us that we should pursue our aims through nonviolent means. We have survived exile and oppression and endured every outrage humans being visit on one another and we have not only survived but we have continued to grow and achieve among ourselves and among the nations of the world. We have done this almost entirely without resorting to violence. Better than any other people in the human family we know the evil of violence and the power of nonviolent action. Dramatic evidence of our uniqueness in this regard is the interest of the Dalai Lama in learning our tradition and history. He sees our Diaspora experience as a possible model for the Tibetan people who have been forced into exile and must find a way to keep their civilization alive outside of their homeland. We have something of unusual value to contribute in creating a global culture of nonviolence.

On November 19, 1998, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution proclaiming the decade 2001-2010 as The International Decade for a Culture of peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. That resolution states, "Recognizing that enormous harm and suffering are caused to children through different forms of violence at every level of society throughout the worldthe year 2000 must be a new beginning for us all. Together we can transform the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and nonviolence. This demands the participation of everyone. It gives young people and future generations values that can inspire them to shape a world of dignity and harmony, a world of justice, solidarity, liberty and prosperity. The culture of peace makes possible sustainable development, protection of the environment and the personal fulfillment of every human being."

This resolution is the result of an initiative signed by every living Nobel peace prize laureate including Elie Wiesel and Shimon Peres. It promotes the highest ideals of our tradition as a worldwide program for social change. It opens a wide path towards the messianic age for which we hope.

THEREFORE THE CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS RESOLVES

1) to endorse the United Nations Resolution establishing the period 2001-2010 as The International Decade for a Culture of peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World;
2) to make it a priority to teach, practice and model nonviolence in all of the institutions of the Reform movement:
3) to foster the creation of a curriculum teaching nonviolent conflict resolution in the Jewish tradition at every level from preschool to adult; and
4) to encourage and promote this effort in all Jewish organizations in which the Reform Movement plays a role.