The Jewish concept of tikkun olam teaches that we all have a duty to heal the world. In these challenging and divisive times, we must each consider how we can fulfill this call to make a positive difference. In the words of President Lawrence S. Bacow, “It is our responsibility to make sure that we leave this country and this world a better place than we found it.”
This academic year, we will focus on the moral commitment we all have in the service of humanity by exploring the theme “What do we owe the world?” Our speakers, services, and music will highlight the efforts of those who are seeking to heal the world in their own, unique ways.
For instance, we will welcome the Rev. Eugene Cho, the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wages (ODW), a grassroots organization dedicated to alleviating global poverty. Since its inception in 2009, ODW has raised millions of dollars, focusing on maternal health, children’s education, clean water and sanitation, human trafficking, and girls’ empowerment. Rev. Cho will grace the MemChurch pulpit on Nov. 18 as well as present at the Faith & Life Forum that morning.
We will also hear from the Honorable Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts and current Managing Director of Bain Capital Double Impact, a division of the investment firm that focuses on helping companies dedicated to the social and environmental good. Governor Patrick will join us on Nov. 11 for the annual Commemoration of Benefactors and the War Dead service.
Many other influential speakers will join us this term, including the Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort, Presbyterian minister and author of Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith, who will preach and join the Faith & Life Forum on Oct. 28. And prominent Harvard voices Tim McCarthy, Program Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Khalil Abdur-Rashid, Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University, will join us at the Faith & Life Forum on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21 respectively. Check the calendar for our full schedule of preachers and speakers.
To be sure, the Harvard University Choir understands the power of music to heal. Our music program continues under the talented leadership of Edward Jones, with fall performances of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Opera, Alceste, and a series of concerts in early November to mark the end of World War I, including the U.S. premiere of Gareth Treseder’s War Cantata, among other notable choral works. And mark your calendars for the 109th Annual Christmas Carol Services on Dec. 9 and 11.
As the Talmud teaches, we should not be overwhelmed by the ubiquity and enormity of the world’s suffering. We must do justly, this very moment. We must love mercy, today. We must walk humbly, now. We may not finish the work, but we remain responsible while we live.
Jonathan L. Walton
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister
in the Memorial Church of Harvard University