Morguefile photos.

Love Sustains: How My Everyday Practices Make My Everyday Activism Possible

February 13, 2015

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.

Poet Q, Poet A: Jews Are Funny! Six Poets on Jewish Humor, Poetry & Activism and Survival

February 6, 2015

In this installment of Rosebud Ben-Oni’s original ZEEK series of poet-poet conversations, poets Erika Meitner, Eduardo Gabrieloff, Hila Ratzabi, Jason Schneiderman and Emily Jaeger talk about their relationship with Jewish humor.

Tackling Hate Speech With Textiles: Robin Atlas in New York for Tu B’Shvat

February 2, 2015

Lashon hara,” Seattle-based artist Robin Atlas tells me, “is a universal issue that goes way beyond the personal level, even the laws of Judaism. The whole world could be changed for the better if people would be mindful of their speech.”

Working in mixed media, mainly textile art, Atlas elevates lashon hara into the broader context of intolerance, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism and discrimination.

Atlas invites viewers to join her in expanding the conversation in her interactive exhibit “Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech,” at the Anne Frank Center in New York. Read More.

Fiction: Angels Out of America

January 26, 2015

As he leaned on the banister, breathing unevenly, shifting his weight to his forearms, marveling that he had walked sixty blocks, the tree exploded into flames.

Hellish light distorted the faces of the ice skaters and the tourists, carving jack-o-lanterns of them. Jay told himself to keep calm even as a low frightened moan slipped out of him and he knew he could never keep calm; howling fire stripped the word calm of meaning.

Talking About Race, Identity & Making Noise with Amani Hayes-Messinger

January 17, 2015

Thanks to Amani Hayes-Messinger, a thoughtful dialogue is taking root around how people approach conversations about race and identity. In her new video,”How do you ask someone about their race?” she says that race itself isn’t taboo, but that far too many people reinforce stereotypes when they ask about identity/identities, instead of opening up a meaningful conversation. She’s young, straightforward, and is absolutely worth watching. She talks here with ZEEK’s editor about creating an inclusive, diverse Jewish community, her family’s activist legacy, and what it means to have moral courage.

Deepening Our Days of Service

January 16, 2015

To make a measurable impact on major societal issues, writes AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corp’s acting executive director, service simply isn’t enough. To really address the root causes of these issues, we need to focus our efforts on the broken systems in our society that lead to these challenges — we need to repair our world (tikkun olam) by repairing the system (tikkun ma’arechet). Read more.

The Power of Service Can Transform Community, When Rooted in Strong Partnerships

January 15, 2015

For volunteering to have a substantive impact on a community or issue area, writes Repair the World:NYC’s Cindy Greenberg, it has to be rooted in partnership, done with — not for — the community. Volunteering that is the byproduct of respectful partnership where everyone involved learns from the experiences of the other, builds authentic bridges between communities and ensures that the service work is actually needed.

Enough With the Post-Paris Blame Game Already: Stop Finger Pointing, Start Fixing

January 13, 2015

In the aftermath of the brutal attacks in Paris last week, not to mention the horrific slaughter in Nigeria, we’re hearing the same sound bytes from the same sources. Conservatives questioning where Muslim condemnation of violent, extreme Islam can be found. The answer is here, here, here and lots of other places. Moderate Muslims in anguish, using the hashtag #NotInMyName to distance themselves from and denounce the terror. Jews, afraid. Again.

When Is an Acceptance Speech Really a Speech About Acceptance?

January 12, 2015

At the Golden Globes, Jeffrey Tambor thanks the transgender community for “letting us be a part of the change.”

Nearly 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina: Here's One Conversation American Jews Need to Hear, Not Change

January 8, 2015

Will you take the Jew in the Street challenge for 2015?

It Begins with Words: In the Studio with Rachel Farbiarz

January 5, 2015

Rachel Farbiarz is a public intellectual whose medium is visual art. Before devoting her career to art making, she worked as a lawyer focusing on the civil rights of prisoners, particularly those on death row. In this interview, Rachel takes ZEEK readers into the intellectual and physical space of her creative process.

Ten Things You Should Know About ZEEK & Why We Need You Now

January 2, 2015

At ZEEK Magazine, we work each week to develop and lift up emerging and established Jewish voices on social change, spirituality, arts and culture. We delight in the intersections and new ideas that make this landscape feel vibrant and make cultural shifts and social change possible.

We’re a small magazine, but we think what we do is important. We hope that you do, too.

To-Do List for the Social Justice Movement: Cultivate Compassion, Emphasize Connections & Mourn Losses (Don’t Just Celebrate Triumphs)

December 23, 2014

One of the first lessons I got in community organizing was that it was important to celebrate victories, even small ones. It gives people hope and encouragement on a path that is all too often tortuous and strenuous. The lesson I did not get, and wish I had, was that we also need to grieve our losses. We need to accompany our movements, tend to them, and treat them kindly.

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.

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.

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