Jo Ellen Kaiser, editor in chief of Zeek Magazine, covered the burgeoning Jewish social justice sector for Sojourner’s Magazine, a liberal Christian mag. Over the next few weeks, we’ll host open threads on elements of the article on how we see ourselves, our movement, our thinkers, and our values. Our last open thread covered whether we owe Heschel, Waskow and Lerner our existence.
This week, let’s consider our Jewish social justice movement as related to the establishment. Jo Ellen claims that our organizations are decidedly anti-establishment and uses Hazon as an example (emphases mine):
So, in 1999, a group of young people founded Hazon (“vision”), creating a Cross-USA bike ride to raise awareness of environmental issues in the Jewish community. […] Hazon is becoming an “institution” on its own, with paid staff and programs. Yet it is a new kind of institution for the Jewish world, as it has neither a clear niche within organized Judaism nor a primary goal to become a national organization that will challenge and change the Jewish world. Hazon’s leaders are essentially uninterested in the organized Jewish world. That is something very new for American Judaism.
Were American Jewish World Service, Avodah, Jewish Funds for Justice, New Israel Fund and Hazon founded by young people? Do these and the wider pantheon of such organizations lack a niche in the organized scene? But much more significantly, are they uninterested in the organized Jewish world? Essentially, are we a young person’s movement and are we giving the communal world the cold shoulder?