Culture, Identity, Justice, Politics, Sex & Gender

New Jewish Agenda Archive Online!

Since there’s been mention of The New Jewish Agenda in a recent thread on anti-semitism on the left workshop, it seemed apropos to announce the recent launch of a fabulous new resource and website researched and developed by Emily Nepon on the history of The New Jewish Agenda.
A little bit about Nepon and why this site:

I’m a queer feminist Jewish activist of the generation born in the (late) 1970s. I first learned about New Jewish Agenda in lesbian-feminist Jewish books and magazines including Bridges Journal and the writings of women like Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, Irena Klepfisz, and Elly Bulkin. I learned that from 1980-1992, New Jewish Agenda was a national, multi-issue, and grassroots organization, a rare format for progressive Jewish organizing. Moved by that teaser about my community’s political history, I looked for a book or a good long article about New Jewish Agenda. Jews tend to value history and storytelling so highly that you can usually find multiple Jewish opinions about everything under the sun, so I assumed that I’d be able to savor a wealth of resources. Not so! I found almost nothing, and my curiosity was further sparked by the strange lack of record.
I’m working to document New Jewish Agenda’s history because I want to learn from the history of activists who came before me, because I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, and because I want the benefit of their strategic experiments. In a more personal way, my excitement for the interviews and research about this group comes from a place of hunger for a community like the one that NJA created. Digging through archive boxes, listening to the interviews I’ve done, and reaching out to others who were involved in the group makes me feel part of something exciting that I didn’t get a chance to join in the 1980s. I’m researching NJA for the same reasons many became members: the opportunity to feel less isolated as a progressive Jew, to connect with a more diverse community of Jewish activists, to gain insight into strategies for activism infused with spiritual meaning, to feel part of a powerful legacy and hopeful future.

The site is filled with amazing content on the founding of the organization, their campaigns, controversies, what led to the organization closing its doors, and interviews with former members, as well as message boards for the many, many former NJA members to post their oral/written histories about their involvement to keep this history alive, along with the archives Nepon used from the Tamiment Archives in NYU’s Bobst Library.
This really is an amazing resource filled with rich history that will benefit us for years to come so thank you to fabulous archivist and radical activist Emily Nepon for helping us build our history to know more of where we come from to build where we are going in the future–especially needed in these political times.

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