Embarking on a Journey: Justice and Jewish Thought 2011

Enjoyable: A social barometer group exercise. A reading list that includes Michael Walzer, April Rosenblum, Paul Kivel and Cornel West. A Jewish community with an imagination.
Last night, the latest iteration of Justice and Jewish Thought, a project of Pursue: Action for a Just World, began with a kick off event in New York. Justice and Jewish Thought is an 8 week, 5 cohort opportunity for folks interested in how Jewish thought/practice and social justice work are impacted by our multiple identities, as well as concepts of power, privilege and oppression. It began at Wesleyan University as a student forum on contemporary radical Jewish thought and has since become a course offered in Boston, Washington DC, the Bay Area and New Orleans.

In the New York incarnation, participants read and discuss in small groups selections from an evolved version of the original Wesleyan reading collection, recently reviewed and updated by various Pursue, AVODAH, and AJWS staff. The curriculum, an evolving project in itself, offers people a change to examine and challenge, according to Sasson, “how we as Jews fit into the messy, post modern world.” Over 8 weeks, each small group will discuss topics such as race, gender and sexuality, economic justice, liberation, intersecting oppressions, Zionism and Diasporism, anti-Semitism, and Jewish activism and organizing. Every week, a different cohort will be posting at the Pursue blog, so you can follow the conversation there.
Behind the Justice and Jewish Thought project is the idea that participants should not only interact with sources, but build communities that can support and sustain folks doing social justice work, as well as develop tools, inspire one another, and share resources, all in the spirit of the knowledge that we cannot do this difficult job alone.
During the opening event, folks participated in a social barometer exercise in order to learn more about one another, their politics, and their experiences and perspectives on their place in Jewish communities. They considered a Jewish Funds for Justice document by Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Simon Greer called “What’s Jewish about Justice?” After an initial meeting with their cohorts, the evening concluded with a conversation about quotes from Michael Walzer and Nelson Mandela and the Traveler’s Prayer.
I have perhaps what is an indecent amount of excitement about being a participant in Justice and Jewish Thought. I can’t have these conversations often enough, or be around other people who want to have them too much. This is food for our souls, even when (especially when) it’s hard and stressful, and I think I’m right in believing that these days, there are a lot of us who need to be fed.

3 thoughts on “Embarking on a Journey: Justice and Jewish Thought 2011

  1. Have they added Jewish content since I participated in DC a few years ago? I thought it was fascinating and worthwhile as a “Jews discuss Justice Thought” class, but kinda disappointing based on the title.

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