In the ancient Jewish text Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), a group of rabbinic scholars in Israel at the beginning of the Common Era fashioned a roadmap to living a moral life. The sages highlighted specific behaviors that would help to put a person on the moral path in life, offering ethical guidance and insight into Jewish tradition and scripture. A millennia and a half later, Ben Franklin created his own plan for a moral life. He identified 13 virtues as the framework for self-improvement and started his mutual-improvement club as a support group to keep him and his peers on track.
The initiative we’re calling Ben Franklin Meets Pirkei Avot pairs Franklin’s virtues — temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility — with corresponding selections from Pirkei Avot. The toolkit and resources below — created by 92Y, the Union for Reform Judaism and Central Synagogue — provide a side-by-side comparison of two great traditions. Download the full toolkit or one for each individual virtue. Use the readings, questions and outline provided to facilitate a unique and powerful dialogue about Jewish and American values.