Manhattan Menorah by Valerie Atkisson (via Tenement Museum)

Housing & Resistance: Why Affordable Housing Remains a Struggle

December 17, 2014

In New York City, the place I call home, activism and housing are virtually synonymous. It’s not just that our city has a historic tradition of rent strikes and never tore down its public housing. It’s that housing permeates nearly all of our other social movements too.

Sustaining Resistance: How My Everyday Practices Make My Everyday Activism Possible

December 16, 2014

The world needs awake, alive, engaged people whose work to mend the world is grounded in and inspired by love. The world needs people who somehow keep their hearts open and pliable while they look unflinchingly at our broken systems and work to change them.

Sounds nice, I know. Actually doing it for any length of time, though, is damn hard.

A ZEEK Hanukkah Roundup: Act, Fry, Give, Sing, Laugh, Reflect, Plan Your Power, Read

December 16, 2014

Feel like you’re doing it wrong? Or maybe you’re just ready to make this Hanukkah even better? Let us help. Check out ZEEK’s guide to Hanukkah. We’ve got ideas to light up the next eight nights — whatever kind of Jew-ish you are, from A(ctions) to Z(EEK).

Poet Q, Poet A: Six Poets Talk About Jewish "Authenticity," Identity, Mapping & Archetypes in Their Poetry

December 8, 2014

This is the second installment of Rosebud Ben-Oni’s series of poet-poet conversations in ZEEK, featuring poets Erika Meitner, Eduardo Gabrieloff, Hila Ratzabi, Jason Schneiderman and Emily Jaeger. Future installments include discussions about whiteness and privilege, humor, and more.

#ThisStopsToday: A Response to the Eric Garner Decision

December 4, 2014

It’s hard not to agree with Jon Stewart’s now-viral, four-letter-word reaction to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. In fact, anything less than outrage feels unacceptable.

Here is one of the four official “values” of the New York Police Department:

Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility.

Here is the official mission of the New York Police Department.

The MISSION of the New York City Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in our City by working in partnership with the community and in accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment.

Right now, the NYPD is failing its mission. READ MORE

Past & Present, Art & Activism: The Silence=Death Poster

December 1, 2014

As a founding member of the political collective that produced the image most closely associated with AIDS activism, Silence=Death, I’m frequently asked to speak about this poster. Over the decades people have thanked me for it, telling me the poster was the rallying cry that drew them to political activism.

I have a slightly different take on that. In essence and intention, the political poster is a public thing. It comes to life in the public sphere, and is academic outside of it. Individuals design it, or agencies or governments, but it belongs to those who respond to its call.

The Jew in the Street: A New ZEEK Column About Standing Up for Justice

November 25, 2014

Fathers, mothers, children, raising barricades,
Workers’ battalions taking to the streets.
Father left home early, to the factory gone,
Won’t be coming home to us any time too soon.
The kids know well the reason why father won’t return,
He’s taken to the streets today and brought along his gun.
Mother too is in the street, off to sell some apples,
Leaving orphaned in the kitchen all the pots and dishes.
Don’t expect to eat, says Khanele to the boys,
Because Mother has gone to help Father…
— “Barikadn,” Yiddish song, written by Shmerke Kaczerginski, 1926

At this moment of national confrontation, as we prepare our Thanksgiving feasts, we ask ourselves: who do we relate to? Not whose side do we take, for there is humanity, divinity, in all people — even in the evil Laban. No, the question is a deep question of identity, of Jewish identity.

Letter From Missouri: Why I Stand With the Ferguson Protestors

November 24, 2014

The past three months have challenged us to “walk the walk” as a congregation. As a community that embraces Jews of color, and has always been committed to challenging the injustices of racism in St. Louis, we could not stand idly by as Michael Brown’s death touched a nerve throughout the nation, and forced St. Louis to confront the reality that there are two Fergusons, and two Americas.

As the story unfolds, it is clear that we cannot let the narrative be reduced to an oversimplified battle between police and protestors.

Why the Jewish Now (and Future) Can’t Be Confined to the Paradigms of the Past

November 20, 2014

“Give me ten emesdike yiddin and I will change the world.”: A response to Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen’s “The Shrinking Jewish Middle.”

Any middle only exists in relation to the margins that frame it. When we contemplate counting numbers to define the health of the Jewish community, the time has come to consider new criteria.

Call for Submissions! Write about Resistance!

November 20, 2014

This Chanukah, ZEEK will run an intergenerational series celebrating resistance and the future of the Jewish left in the United States.

Send original pitches, personal essays, reported articles, chatty opinion pieces, feature stories, and creative nonfiction to zeek@zeek.net, with “RESISTANCE” in the subject line. Deadline for pitches is November 26.

Here’s Why Compromise IS the Wrong Strategy

November 17, 2014

One of the sound bites we’ve suddenly started hearing a lot since Election Day is about how politicians will start working together to address our nation’s problems.

The word mentioned the most? Compromise.

Leave compromising to the politicians. Social justice advocates must stand firm when it comes to positions on social justice issues and Jewish values.

Poet Q, Poet A: Six Poets Talk Topography & Landscape in Their Poetry

November 14, 2014

This is the first installment of Rosebud Ben-Oni’s series of poet-poet conversations in ZEEK about Jewish identity, poetry, and more, featuring poets Erika Meitner, Eduardo Gabrieloff, Hila Ratzabi, Jason Schneiderman and Emily Jaeger. Future installments include discussions about mapping rituals, authenticity, whiteness, and privilege, shifting Jewish identity and humor. We start, here, with this roundtable on location and topography.

The Other Great American Divide: Pushing Economic Justice Forward

November 5, 2014

Midway through the day of the Morning After, it’s sinking in that next year in the United States of America, there will much more red from sea to shining sea.

Instead of focusing on how the current divide between right and left (or right and middle, etc.), it’s worth appreciating how the Other Great Divide played out in the polls: the economic divide. And, just as important, to recalibrate and re-energize. With the gulf between rich and poor greater than it has been since 1929, the most basic of economic justice measures found its way onto ballots in the form of the minimum wage.

A Personal Reflection: After Election Day, Moving On

November 5, 2014

No matter what the pundits and polls say, there is often a moment early on during marathon Election Night coverage when those of us glued to the TV and Twitter decide it may not be so bad after all –- that surge of protective optimism that keeps you up way too late. For me, that optimism came from reports of higher-than-usual-midterm-election turnout.

Urgent: Voters Needed. More Urgent: Overturning Laws that Disenfranchise Millions

October 31, 2014

Midterm elections are just days away. And like many in my community, I’m doing my part to get out the vote. We’re making calls, knocking on doors, and — because Minnesotans can register to vote on Election Day — we’ll keep going until the polls close.

In the 10 years I’ve worked in Jewish social justice, I’ve knocked on a lot of doors. I’ve had people yell at me, hug me, offer me a snack, and slam the door in my face.

The hardest response to take, though, is usually, “I can’t vote.”

Grazing the Object: In the Studio with Rachel Klinghoffer

October 30, 2014

In this new ZEEK series, Tamara Mann talks to working artists about how Judaism, faith, religious ideas, or even a kind of religious antagonism relates to their studio practice.

Afterthoughts: Making Memory Matter after the Ferguson Weekend of Resistance & Sukkot

October 22, 2014

As I chanted along with the leaders, “We young, we strong, we marching all night long,” I remembered that remembering is holy, but only if the remembering leads us to a better reality….. And in that moment I knew that the fight will take a long time, but that it is built on love, and that is why it will win.

The Slingshot Guide Turns 10: Questions for Will Schneider

October 22, 2014

Earlier this week, the Slingshot Fund released its annual Slingshot Guide, a “resource for Jewish innovation.” We reached out to Will Schneider, executive director of Slingshot, to talk about how the Jewish innovation arena has evolved in the 10 years since Slingshot began creating its guides — and where we still need to see change, especially when it comes to philanthropy and engaging Jews in social justice.

DC DISPATCH Hold Your Breath: Upcoming Supreme Court Cases Worth Watching

October 19, 2014

You could be forgiven if you perused the docket for the 2014-15 US Supreme Court term and yawned. To be sure, there are important cases, but the lineup so far lacks the hot-button attention-grabbers, with issues like marriage equality, abortion rights, health care, and voting rights largely absent from the list. Even so, it’s worth paying attention this term. Here’s why.

Inside the Looking Glass: Writing My Way Through Two Very Different Jewish Journeys

October 9, 2014

A Catholic woman’s ancient Jewish blood calls to her. Her spiritual story, so different than my own, calls to me, forcing me to think more deeply about my own Jewish journey. My path may never lead to temple or God, but it’s definitely Jewish and definitely leading somewhere.

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