Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein spearheaded an initiative to establish a Bill of Responsibilities together with the Department of Education, and the National Religious Leaders Forum (NRLF).
The project included a national schools campaign and a draft Bill of Responsibilities - based on the Bill of Rights. The idea behind this was to generate a culture of responsibility that would start from the ground up and be carried through to all South African citizens.
The ultimate goal within schools was for the learners to take on their Bill of Responsibilities. It was on the wall in every classroom around the country, and it also formed part of the Life Orientation syllabus.
Rabbi Goldstein presented this project at a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki, senior Cabinet ministers and the NRLF. The idea was warmly endorsed by the president and religious leaders, with the president stressing the urgency of the matter.
The idea for a Bill of Responsibilities is “very much Judaism based”, which nourishes youths with a diet of duties and responsibilities from a young age, said the chief rabbi.
One may have a right to parental care but is duty bound to honour parents. Similarly, one may have a right to dignity but is called upon to respect one’s fellow man in the same vein.
“The Torah speaks in the language of tomorrow” expounds Rabbi Goldstein. The significance of the bill for South Africa in the 21st century is to transform the society into a better one, the country into a better place, its thrust comes from the Torah itself and to remind us that “G-d’s wisdom is for all time”.
“It comes with the many rights and freedoms that I have been privileged to inherit from the sacrifice and suffering of those who came before me”