Life and Action

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Leftist Ethicist: Advice to Help “Offset” Gentrification in Chicago

July 9, 2014

My husband and I are thinking about buying a property in Chicago, but we are in a bit of a quandary. Knowing that we will be gentrifying, we would like to “offset our footprint” if you will, like one might offset one’s carbon footprint by planting a tree or carpooling. Are there ways to “offset our footprint”?

Not Just Another World Cup Special with Morning Jew

June 29, 2014

The Morning Jew Duo Mouths Off About the Bite Felt Round the World & More

Katie Halper and Heather Gold tackle the headlines in this World Cup special edition: Suarez’s big mouth, a Dutch soccer team with a Hava Nagila ringtone, and even a Theresienstadt tie-in – no joke. But very funny.

New Depths in Jewish-Muslim Dialogue: Jewish Privilege

June 27, 2014

I’m deeply invested in the transformative possibilities of Jewish-Muslim engagement. But until those of us with privilege recognize the inequity and take steps to fix it, the disparity in our circumstances can get in the way of conversation.

Lessons From the Field: Community Organizing vs. Community Building

June 13, 2014

Over the past decade, community organizing has become a buzz phrase in American culture –- embraced by the right and the left. As a grassroots organizer-turned-rabbi, I have dedicated much of the past eight years to trying to figure out the relationship between organizing and community building — and how the two might best support each other. Right now, congregations and community organizing groups have a lot to learn from each other.

ZEEK PRESENTS: Shavuot & Social Change--June 3 in NYC

June 1, 2014

ZEEK PRESENTS Shavuot & Social Change with Zeek editor Erica Brody, writer-activist Sarah Seltzer, and Marjorie Dove Kent of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

How can Shavuot help us think more creatively and deeply about what it means to be a Jewish change-maker in New York? Zeek editor Erica Brody, writer-activist Sarah Seltzer, and activist and Marjorie Dove Kent of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice team up to lead this highly interactive conversation/workshop. This is our first public event since we relaunched!

Activist, Parent: An Organizer's Look at Change-Making, Time and Life Through the Lens of Motherhood

May 20, 2014

I used to work in a church basement with community activists. We wore worn T-shirts, worked until 10 pm, and wore our spunkiness with pride. No one, at that time, was a parent. Then I joined a big healthcare labor union, where many members, staff and leaders were parents. We’d often have conference calls at 9 pm or later to accommodate bedtime. At organizing meetings, kids ran around as their parents were figuring out the best strategic ways to win their union.

Plight of a Mentor: Cutthroat Vs. Collaborative for NextGen Women Leaders: The Leftist Ethicist

May 8, 2014

I am a senior staff member at a progressive Jewish nonprofit with many young(er) staff people. I am a mentor for a few women who are early in their careers. In my organization, there are many women, but men still occupy most of the top positions. I sometimes find myself encouraging cutthroat attitudes that I don’t really believe in because I know it is part of what these young women will need to advance. Is this ethical? —Mentoring Against My Values

Inequality between men and women in the Jewish communal world is a hot issue, especially around pay and leadership, two issues I’m sure you discuss with your mentees. READ MORE

On No-Phone Zones & Balance while Fighting for Change, Families, Equity & Reproductive Choice

April 3, 2014

I remember clearly the day that my then-boyfriend now-husband and I implemented our “no conference calls on road trips” rule. We’re often on the road between our home in DC and New York or to my mother-in-law’s home on the Delaware coast. While this might seem like an obvious rule to some in order to maximize quality time together, our concerns were much more mundane. If we were both on the phone at the same time, we couldn’t hear. And we couldn’t agree on whose call was more important, so we decided no one could be on the phone.

Purim’s Power: Despite the Consequences –The Jewish Push for LGBT Rights, Part 3

March 13, 2014

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.

Broken Justice and the Death Penalty: A Q & A with Jen Marlowe, Co-author of "I Am Troy Davis"

March 7, 2014

“I was horrified at what I assumed at that time was a very unusual situation. I thought it was an aberration. Only later did I realize how typical his case was. But so many aspects of what made his case problematic are emblematic of our death penalty system and our criminal justice system.” –Jen Marlowe on writing “I Am Troy Davis”

Hate Speech, Identity & the Importance of Asking Questions — Part 2: The Jewish Push for LGBT Rights

March 4, 2014

I was the victim of hate speech. I will never forget the day. It was nothing if not shocking. I am openly gay, a Jewish man — a rabbi — who wears a yarmulke in public. Amidst a crowd of people, from all walks of life, I was told to leave.

A t this point I probably should say that the establishment where this hate speech took place was a gay bar. And the man who insisted I leave was gay. And also Jewish.

Am I a Racist? Tackling the Tensions of an Inclusive Multiracial Jewish Community

February 20, 2014

Earlier this month, a few brave Jews made a trek to the middle of Brooklyn. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so brave about Jews in Brooklyn? They were brave not only to venture outside during an ice storm, but also because they knew they would be spending the evening talking about privilege and race in the Jewish community at the Jewish Multiracial Network (JMN) Parlor Meeting. The question: Am I racist?

A-Listers for a Cause, Relative Creepiness, and Ethical Realtors: The Leftist Ethicist

February 6, 2014

Dear Leftist Ethicist, I have a distant family member who has turned from a C-list to an A-list celebrity because of a role on a popular TV show. We hardly know each other. I am a passionate employee of a grassroots organization and would like to ask him to support us. He is apolitical as far as I know, but probably leans conservative. What is the best way to approach him without being creepy? Or is it even worth reaching out since we’re pretty removed?

Two Takes on Where We're Headed (And by we, we mean Zeek)

December 30, 2013

Two Zeek board members – one longtime, one new – talk from the heart about the Jewish tomorrow and Zeek.

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

I care about Zeek because Zeek is thoughtful, literate, literary. For years, Zeek has been the place to go for meaningful long-form writing which questions assumptions and pushes boundaries. Zeek does work that no one else is doing, and sheds light on conversations that no one else is having – whether that be our 2003 essay on Zionism and Colonialism, or our 2004 essay on Hasidism and homoeroticism, or our 2009 interview with Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler.

The recent Pew study confirms that one in five Jews today says they are part of “no” religion – which makes us just like the rest of the country, where “nones” (those who check “none of the above” on survey boxes) are on the rise. My question is: how can we open up the richness of Judaism – or the many varieties of Judaism; Judaisms, plural) to those who have opted out of the communal or congregational mainstream as they’ve understood it?

Zeek is a place where that can happen. There’s no barrier to entry here. We’re interested in dialogue and discourse and in creating the Jewish tomorrow which we, ourselves, most need. Zeek is honest, authentic, questioning – qualities which I think a lot of unaffiliated Jews want and need, but may not be finding elsewhere.

By Steven M. Cohen

Small magazines that publish good thought leaders have played a vital role in shaping opinion, in sharpening the skills of the thought leaders, and in forging all sorts of innovative and oppositional movements – in American society, in Jewish life, and, of course, elsewhere.

At a time when organized Jewry has largely succumbed to the influence and interests of the most affluent (people in the financial industry, real estate moguls, and others), Zeek can play a valuable role in vitalizing and sustaining the historic Jewish voice for economic justice. It can advance the discourse by not only bringing a Jewish sensibility to bear upon these societal issues, but by bringing a sharply critical perspective to bear upon organized Jewry and its tendency to comfort the comfortable, and afflict the afflicted.

Zeek is laying the groundwork for a strong, sustainable 2014. We need your help. Please consider making a much-appreciated, tax-deductible donation to Zeek today. Support from readers, allies and partners keeps Zeek online and independent!

Readers, tell us what you think. What are your questions about the Jewish tomorrow? Why do you care about Zeek? What would you like to see in 2014? Tell us!

Moral Money Tips for Newlyweds, Avoiding Activist Burnout: The Leftist Ethicist

December 26, 2013

The Leftist Ethicist closes out 2013 with advice for a newlywed couple rethinking how they use and view money, and on being a good friend when you’re worried a fellow activist is fighting too hard, facing burnout and a possible breakdown.

#ReCatalyze Zeek -- aka Shameless Self-Promotion and Emphatic Gratitude (aka Co-Dependent Survival Necessities)

December 17, 2013

As Zeek’s editor and executive director, I wanted to share my gratitude to all the early adopters who’ve helped our#ReCatalyze Zeek campaign take off on Indiegogo. Each time a new crowd-funded donation comes in, I feel encouraged and energized by this showing of support for what we’re trying to do with Zeek and our vision for a strong, sustainable magazine in 2014!

Women Have a Seat at the Table. But Wait. Who's Clearing? (Ahem, Men)

November 27, 2013

The sad truth is that, even in Jewish communities that stand for egalitarianism on the pulpit and in the pews, gender-equality disappears in the home.

Pumpkin Latkes

November 18, 2013

The Zeek archive is packed with articles that have as much relevance and urgency today as they did when they were written. Like this one – in fact, it’s even more timely than it was back in 2010, when it originally ran.

An Activist on Occupy, Two Years After Zuccotti Eviction

November 14, 2013

Two years later, writes Sarah Seltzer, Occupy reminds us that we have to think big, think together, and keep the slogan in our minds, even when it seems far from reality: another world is possible.

Where, When, Who? Workplace Activism & Healthcare Access --THE LEFTIST ETHICIST

November 11, 2013

I have seen the same primary care doctor for about five years, and she gives me good care. Unfortunately, I just saw her, and she told me — not without a guilty look in her eye — that expenses and regulations were just too much, and she had decided to close up her current shop and open a concierge practice. My blood ran cold: I mean, sure, I could afford it (I make a good living), but what about all the people who can’t? Is my doctor making an unethical decision? Should I stick with her?

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