In the wake of the terrible attacks in Paris, my friends all seem to be retreating to the safety and sanctimony of their respective political teams. Team Right, is doing everything in its power to use the tragedy to reinforce its political message: Jews are not really safe in the diaspora. The attacks in Paris are further proof that antisemitism in Europe is worse than it has ever been since the end of WWII. Israel is the only way for Jews to truly be safe. Muslims need to engage in some serious introspection and be more vocal in their condemnations of terrorism. Meanwhile on Team Left, people are urging us not to paint all Muslims with the brush of their fanatics and attempting to remind us that while the attacks on Charlie Hebdo were inexcusable and unequivocally wrong, that doesn’t mean that everything they ever published is retroactively right. Team Left is also arguing that there’s a double-standard when it comes to our expectations of condemnations and that this is rooted in Islamophobia.
The weaknesses of Team Right’s positions are obvious and glaring. While there has indisputably been a rise in antisemitic attacks in Europe over the past ten years, the notion that Jews are no longer safe in Europe is a gross, politically-motivated exaggeration. Netanyahu’s sleazy appearance in Paris, against French President François Hollande’s explicit wishes, along with statements by Israeli officials encouraging French Jews to move to Israel en masse, are disturbing on multiple levels. First, how dare Israeli officials presume to tell French Jews where they ought to live? This in and of itself is condescending and wrong. Second, Netanyahu et al are shamelessly using the community’s tragedy to score political points in the upcoming Israeli election. Third, these statements place Israel and its supporters in that revolting nexus of antisemitism and Zionism, where the safety of European Jews is jettisoned in favor of the antisemite’s desire for them to leave and the Zionist’s desire for them to come. Finally, the language that Team Right uses to talk about Islam is crass, insensitive, and inaccurate. This should come as no surprise. While Team Right is intolerant and largely ignorant of Islam and Muslims, they are exceptionally tolerant and chummy with people who have made careers out of spreading Islamophobia.
When Ms. Snow writes that “the American legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation is a wound so deep it may never fully heal,” what process of healing is she referring to?
Would it be the “healing” that has resulted in an incarcerated population that is larger than any other in the world, and overwhelmingly Black and brown? The “healing” that comes from more Black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850?
Is it the “healing” that comes from a “War on Drugs” that has decimated neighborhoods, and even entire cities and towns, upending families to punish the economically and socially disenfranchised?
The painful truth for Black and brown Americans is that there is no “healing” process in this country. It is an illusion concocted by America’s privileged classes to comfort ourselves that we are different in some meaningful way from our parents and grandparents. The same comfort that many Jewish Americans, sadly, try to extract from our otherwise noble civil rights legacy.
Have you battled an eating disorder or another form of disordered eating?
Have you grappled to make peace with your body?
Have you struggled to live within your body in an embodied way?
Have you had difficulty navigating transitions in your body due to development, life stage or lifestyle?
Have you suffered as you made peace with your sexuality, sexual identity or gender identity?
Are there ways in which you have resolved these issues?
We are currently in the midst of collecting soulful personal narratives from Jewish individuals for an upcoming anthology about the ways in which body, body experience and the related struggles intersect with one’s religion or identity. We will then edit, compile, and anthologize this collection of stories of soul and spirit and hope they will foster courage, communication, connection and compassion – both for ourselves and for others. We want to represent the full breadth of experience in a non-hierarchical way without sensationalizing suffering. Everyone is worthy and deserves to share their story. You don’t have to earn it with suffering at some pre-set benchmark. Length is not a factor as we want you to feel free to tell your story in as full or brief a form as feels complete, poignant and fulfilling to you. Longer may be better for some people to feel that they have fully expressed a true and full narrative that explains the arc of their journey. Others may choose to focus on a particularly meaningful or touching moment, anecdote, or experience and we want to leave room for all of those voices and perspectives in this compilation. Read more »
USY, the youth group of the Conservative Movement, has long had policies demanding that kids in regional and international leadership positions follow particular standards. Three of these standards have always risen to the top of the list of those that are the most enforced and the most discussed: keep kosher, keep Shabbat, don’t date outside of the faith. These standards were adopted by youth leaders for youth leaders, although they were generally adopted by kids of a previous generation. This week, at USY’s International Convention, the board debated reframing the standards around both Shabbat observance and interfaith relationships. They voted to retain the Shabbat standard as is and reword the dating standard to encourage (rather than require) endogamous dating while also adding important language about teens treating those whom they date with respect. Although JTA reported this as USY dropping the ban on interdating, USY leadership asserted that is not the case.
As a former USY regional president (who didn’t really date at all in high school, due in no small part to my decision to stay in the closet thanks to a different set of Conservative Movement rules that made me sure a gay kid wouldn’t be welcome in USY leadership), I want to publicly applaud the current teen leaders of USY for taking this step. (I wish they had gone further and dismantled the entire concept of standards, but that’s a post for another day.)
Apparently, USY alumni have been up in arms about these proposals for weeks. I didn’t hear about them until after the JTA article came out, which caused another wave of USY has-beens freaking out. I don’t think my take on this is going to surprise any long-time Jewschool readers, but I’m going to lay it out anyway.
Editor’s Note: This post is the ninth in Jewschool’s series of reflections on Judaism, Jewish identity, race and the events in Ferguson.
By guestposter Yavilah McCoy
The Call to Action….
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
My daughter spoke before a crowd of over 350 mostly White Jews who gathered in Brookline last evening to march, affirm and say together the simple slogan that has been sweeping our country: “Black Lives Matter.” My daughter, with tears in her eyes and a voice filled with emotion, shared what was at stake for her in a world where increasingly militarized police forces in our communities feel free to target unarmed people of color not just with guns but with deadly stereotypes and assumptions around what constitutes a criminal in our country. She spoke of not wanting to continue being scared for her brother and father’s safety. She talked about how much she worries about them walking home alone through the wealthy, White suburban communities of Boston that we live in to be in close proximity to other Orthodox Jews. As we have been asked, by the youth leaders of Ferguson, I stood behind by daughter last evening and supported the use of her voice. I listened while my heart was breaking, to my child describe and decry the failure of our community and country to make a space where all our children can feel safe. I felt proud, but I also felt a deep and compelling question emerging in my breast: What now? Hadn’t I been working for most of her lifetime to open the doors and minds of our community to a broader consciousness of the multiracial and multicultural constitution of our membership? Hadn’t I surrounded her with role models of family, people and leaders, who lived justice with their lives and hearts, and that she could call “uncle” and “auntie” and mean it, whether she was related to them by blood or not? Hadn’t I spent tireless hours working with the schools and institutions that she and her siblings navigate revealing the nuances of racism and providing tools for them to race forward and not backward in the way we educate and provide services to an increasingly diverse constituency of our people? Read more »