Part of loving one’s country is wanting to redress its wrongs
Rapper Pitbull again said that anyone who criticizes America should think about moving to Cuba and see how much they like it.
But Pitbull misses the point. Our standard for a great America isn't whether we're better that North Korea, Iran and Cuba. It is patriotic to want true history to be taught to our children. It's patriotic to critique America so it can improve its ways. It's patriotic to fight for social justice for all of its citizens.
This essay breaks this down.
Untangling the images that shape our thinking
This essay uses the backdrop of comics and superheroes to highlight how we our unconscious bias has been form through childhood images. When people took to the internet to criticize the new Black Batwoman, it reminded me how we had green superheroes and a dog before we had a popular Black superhero. This essay explores how that harmed us and provides us tools to undo that impact.
We won’t achieve true justice for anyone until Jews are included in social justice
There’s this bizarre bias, especially among the social justice left, that Jews live in their own post-racial world. Where their ethnicity and identity aren’t worth our protective efforts. Where the Jewish experience is no different than the white experience.
Forget that white Jews are just 70 years from their slaughter where they weren't white enough or that they endure more hate crimes than any other religious group despite being only 2% of the U.S. population. Half of the world's Jews and 60-65% of Israeli Jews aren't white anyway. They are Jews of color.
This essay explores Jewish identity and why it's time to literally stop whitewashing Jewish identity.
Mark Twain once said that travel is the cure to racism
Travel is one of my favorite things in the world. On a deeper level, it allows us the opportunity to meet and get to know people who are not the same as us. The unintentional result is that we get to undo ingrained unconscious bias we have towards others.
This essay uses my 2021 visit to Istanbul to highlight the idea of ending racial and ethnic distancing to eradicate our deep biases.
A reflective commentary poem
Wearing a mask
Quarantining in your home for 14 days
Having a post removed on Facebook
Someone from the other party winning an election
Getting blocked by a follower on Instagram
Background checks at gun shows
Taking a COVID test before entering an event
High gas prices
Critical Race Theory
The Insurrection at the Capitol
Deporting people who enter the U.S. illegally
Texas’ new abortion law
Magazine clip restrictions
Anything that’s not the Holocaust
Blacks and Jews once modeled a path to end racial distancing
To escape the horrific racism and systemic oppression in the South, beginning in 1916, millions of southern Blacks migrated north and west to places like Chicago, East St. Louis, Compton, Oakland and Baltimore. And to Harlem, which at the time was home to a sizable Yiddish-speaking Jewish community, also trying to make their own way in a still challenging America. Blacks and Jews were each other’s neighbors, customers, and employers.
One result of that was Black men and women becoming Jewish cantors. Cantors lead the Hebrew (and back then Yiddish) prayer songs on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. This odd entry into Jewish religious life presented an opportunity for Jews and Blacks to get to know each other and end what I call racial and ethnic distancing. This essay explores that fascinating time in our history.
When Tragedy Struck Denver’s Jewish Community
Sadly, tragedy struck Denver's Jewish community when five criminals went on a crime spree in August, 2021 and murdered a 19 year-old student from Cleveland who was studying at Denver's premier Jewish learning institution.
We often hear people send "praying for you" wishes, which are always welcome, but this essay dives into why we must not forget action to accompany our prayers. This approach is fundamental to Jewish teachings.
Don’t wait until something happens to you
This essay explores how we can change the way we care about others’ tragedies. Change the way we practice empathy when someone else cries out in pain. Let’s give some urgency to the challenges confronted by others and their families. We can take more seriously when someone says they are being treated unfairly.
In the aftermath of a horrific criminal murder at my son's Jewish school in Denver, Colorado, it's time we start figuring out empathy. We can't afford to wait until something happens to us to start caring about others.
Beauty, Lessons, Challenges and Repair
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I landed in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali. I was visiting East Africa as part of Africa Development Promise’s program to support women-owned farming cooperatives.
I had done my fair share of reading about various parts of Africa over the years and certainly didn’t have a monolithic view of the continent. But you can’t grow up in a western country without having at least some unconscious bias about the continent being “backwards.” It’s not like I thought of countries as “shitholes” or anything, but I still approached my trip with a combination of excitement and apprehension.
This piece explores my travels to Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda and what lessons we can learn from the beautiful continent of Africa.
A stranger complimented us by saying we should teach a co-parenting class after divorce
Well-known contemporary spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef Jacobson once remarked, “When a child gets angry with a parent and says, ‘I don’t want to speak to you ever again,’ two hours later the kid is having ice cream with them. When an adult says they won’t speak to you again, twenty years later, they’re still not invited to the wedding of their adult children.” Why? asks Rabbi Jacobson. Because children choose to be happy. Adults choose to be right.
This essay explores how we can raise beautiful children, even after divorce, while putting our adult egos aside.
Why everyone's so scared
A primary tenet of critical race theory is the oft-ignored reality that racism is ordinary and normative. It’s not a few nut cases. It’s not aberrational. It’s not individualized. It’s you. It’s me. It’s our systems. It’s part and parcel of society.
Racism, according to CRT, is deeply part of our American psyche, affecting all of us.
The result, which is why so many are in uproar, is that every person would not only need to critically examine the country we were taught was the champion of freedom. But that we must look inside ourselves. At our biases. Our attitudes. Our behaviors.
This essay explores CRT in an intellectually honest manner and outside of the extremes and distractions.
The stars and stripes of racism
Independence Day for me as a kid was always a joyous occasion. Beautiful red, white, and blue flags everywhere. Burgers and hot dogs. Lighting sparklers. Sitting on blankets in a field watching fireworks. Columbus Clippers baseball games.
But for some people, it wasn't all picnics and barbecues. This essay delves into systemic racism and how we can begin to heal.
How to use personal trauma to practice empathy of others
Most of us, Black or white, have experienced some trauma in life. Whether it’s an awful childhood, a bad parent, an abusive partner. Severe financial hardship or divorce. Disability. A scary illness. Yelling and screaming in the house. Extremist religion. The death of a parent or child. Or if you’re Jewish, Muslim, Asian, Latino, gay, trans or in some other marginalized group, you’ve undoubtedly dealt with xenophobic-laced challenges. There are few among any of us who haven’t experienced impactful trauma.
This essay dives into how we can use our own trauma to practice empathy for others.
It's about understanding and trust
Do-gooders have come out of the woodwork since the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.
For most of us fighting for social and racial justice, it’s a welcome and long overdue awakening. Black and brown people have waited years for a national outcry like this. For people to take to the streets. Protest. Speak up. Vote. Never in the United States’ two and a half centuries of existence has there been this level of simultaneous compassion and outrage. It’s a great renewal of the civil rights activity of the 1960s.
Respecting Jews and Palestinians
This essay delves into the definition of Zionism and the historical and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to Israel. Zionism isn’t what you think it is. It’s simply the ideology that the Jews have a right to return to their original home. The birthplace of the Jewish people. The land from which they were exiled multiple times. Before Jews ultimately spread to every corner of the world (places like Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Russia, Germany, Poland, Spain, Brazil, Portugal), Jews were living in the land of Israel under numerous Jewish kings and other rulers.
The Challenges of Intersectionality
So many people wear different hats in society, bringing with them different types of challenges and privileges. This essay breaks down the challenges of intersectionality and how we can start addressing those unique experiences.
Time for Mutual Recognition
Israelis and Palestinians have been at each other's throats for the better part of a century. For Jews, Israel is their eternal homeland. It's the place they returned to after so many years of exile. For the Palestinians, it's the place they lived and were expelled from by the returning Jews. The problem is that Israelis reject the Palestinian love and longing for their home, and Palestinians reject the Jewish connection to the same land. This essay explores how mutual recognition is the only path for peace.
The one hatred that doesn’t get canceled.
We justifiably want to cancel racism, sexism, misogyny and other forms of disturbing beliefs and behavior. Most of us want a society where hatred isn't tolerated. Sadly, though, Anti-Semitism isn't approached with the same disdain as other forms of bigotry.
This essay explores why we need to include hatred of and bias towards Jews in our social justice efforts.
In this deep and hard hitting poem, activist Jeffrey Kass gives us powerful pause to think about how society has treated its Black and Brown citizens. This is a must read. Breathe as you digest.
Racial complacency is never a good thing.
Many fighting racism and the systems that perpetuate it celebrated when Trump lost to Biden. This essay explores why we can't afford to be complacent just because there's a Democrat in the White House. Democrats and Republicans alike have failed to adequately address what ails so many Black and Brown people in America. Author Jeffrey Kass advocates holding Biden's feet to the fire on these critical race issues.
READING THE ESSAYS
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