This week, Graywolf Press is releasing All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen, the man once known as Hasidic Rebel who went on to become the founder/editor of the website Unpious: Voices on the Hasidic Fringe.
All Who Go Do Not Return is an extraordinary memoir. The writing is beautiful. The journey it chronicles is poignant, relatable — and also unlike anything most readers will ever have experienced. As a young man, Shulem Deen chose to join the Skverers, one of the world’s most intense and insular Hasidic communities. He married, and became a father to five beloved children. And then his natural inclination to learn and to question drove a wedge between him and the Skverer world.
This Purim, I’m reminded of the power of coming out and speaking out, despite the consequences. In the story of Purim, the Jewish people are redeemed only after Esther finds the courage to stand up for herself and her community.
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran as part of ZEEK’s 2014 series about the Jewish push for LGBT rights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the Golden Globes, Jeffrey Tambor thanks the transgender community for “letting us be a part of the change.”
Will you take the Jew in the Street challenge for 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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