Mishegas

A new Jewschool for a new era

We here at Jewschool, the largest progressive Jewish online community, have relaunched with a clarified sense of purpose: to connect and broadcast grassroots activists dissatisfied with the status quo.
[pullquote align=right]Jewschool relaunches now to do what we have always done best: connect and broadcast grassroots, progressive activists dissatisfied with the status quo.[/pullquote]In the early 2000s, Jewish life was showing major rifts in how diverse voices, especially young people, preferred to be Jewish. Old organizations were collapsing and new ones arriving in great number. Demanding to be heard, our founder Dan Sieradski and dozens of young leaders of iconoclastic and unorthodox Jewish identities made this site the hub of an expanding network. This site was, in their own snarky words, “for disenfranchised Jews alienated — and bored to death — by the Jewish mainstream.” Jewschool was the first and for a time the only mouthpiece of the “emergent” phenomenon. (Click the image above to scroll through our past iterations.)
Over a decade later, chapter two is being written. There are hundreds of blogs now, many sparked in response to Jewschool. The debates of the early 2000s are far from settled, but many ideas that were once fringe are now accepted as reality: intermarriage acceptance, the two-state solution, “just Jewish” identity, gay ordination, independent minyanim, and so many more. Some are mainstream, even dogma. And those of us who were pioneers are now executive directors, rabbis, and career professionals. Legacy institutions are also adapting and many have made brave changes. Including hiring many of us. And new voices are rising, equally hungry to express themselves.
[pullquote align=left]Jewry still needs an explicitly progressive hub where culture creators can share and debate with each other.[/pullquote]…What do we have to say now? Where stand the causes we advocated here ten years ago? Who are the next cohort of activists and what are their causes? Where to from here?
Jewschool relaunches now to do what we have always done best: to connect and broadcast grassroots activists dissatisfied with the status quo.
But while it may seem that the arc of history is bending our way, the major issues remain elusive: gender equity and pluralism, Israeli-Palestinian peace, valuing mixed-marriage and multiracial Jews, ending antisemitism, birthing contemporary Torah, better models of community, and more. And the majority of Jewry outside of places like New York, San Francisco, and Israel have yet to benefit from many of the most successful new initiatives. Causes we fight as Jews in the wider world also have so far to go: ending poverty, racism, war, and climate change. Powers that resist change, decry diversity, and uphold outdated systems still reign.
Jewry still needs an explicitly progressive hub where culture creators can connect with each other. We need to raise issues long before the mainstream deems them newsworthy. We need more intellectual debate unrestrained by red lines. Emerging and sidelined views, especially unpaid activists and young leaders, need their first soapbox. We still need Jewschool.
[pullquote align=right]Our new site features new ways for us to be an online community, more than just a blog.[/pullquote]Our new site features new ways for us to be an online community, more than just a blog:

  • Submit a Post enables you to easily contribute to our debates here.
  • Events allows you to promote for free your organizing events anywhere in the world.
  • Forums allows you start your own conversations and connect with other community members, authors, and editors.

We’ve expanded our stable of amazing contributors. Here are just these few new examples:

  • Aliza Becker is chronicling an oral history of the nearly-forgotten American Jewish anti-occupation activists from the 60s and 70s.
  • Max Socol, a community organizer in North Carolina, covers the fight for racial equality from the front lines.
  • JoJo Jacobson muses on gender roles as a queer rebbetzin and their challenges within progressive communities.
  • Brad Brooks-Rubin reports on his attempts to parent his kids to have a love of both Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Eli Ungar-Sargon is a filmmaker imagining brave alternatives to the two-state solution and addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia.

We’ve also featured a plethora of guest authors in several important series:

  • Naomi Adland sparked a series called Fearless Judaism, where young visionaries countered the fear-defined General Assembly with affirmative visions of peoplehood.
  • After events in Ferguson, our series on #BlackLivesMatters published many grassroots Jews demanding that Jewry redouble and reexamine our commitment to equality for people of color.

So we invite you to write for us, post your events here, enjoin in important debate, express your own iconoclasm, and be part of an online community with a fiery mission of empowering agents of social justice.
All of this is made possible by our hardworking editorial board members, our newly-incorporated board of directors, and our founder and amazing (re)designer Dan Sieradski. And a special thank you is due to the Dorot Alumni Initiatives Fund who supported this relaunch.
We welcome you to a new Jewschool for a new era.
 

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