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.
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.
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.
JEWISH LESSONS FOR COMBATTING OPPRESSION
Passover is the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. From brutal oppression and harsh conditions, the Jewish people were able to cling to their identity, help their fellows and connect with allies in their journey from bondage to freedom. Jeffrey uses the lessons of the Jewish story as a blueprint for our modern race problems, borrowing from his years of learning ancient Jewish texts with renowned rabbis in Israel, New York and St. Louis.
AN ANTI-RACIST MODEL FOR WHITE PEOPLE. BE MORE LIKE ALBERT
Albert Einstein is of course known as arguably the greatest scientist of all time, but what most of us don’t know was Einstein’s work towards a more inclusive world. Einstein worked tirelessly to eradicate racism and unjust systems. He used his position of power to speak out in support of his Black and Brown fellow citizens. He wrote for publications advocating significant change. He befriended and treated as equals many Black men. Einstein was even known to go for walks in Black neighborhoods to do some of his best thinking. Einstein was an original anti-racist. Author Jeffrey Kass shares Einstein’s beautiful life and actions as a guide for us today. This particular essay was read over 4,000 times and shared by major online influencers. It’s a must read.
DESPITE THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF ANTI-JEWISH HATE, UNIVERSITIES OMIT JEWS AND ANTI-SEMITISM FROM VIRTUALLY EVERY ETHNIC STUDIES PROGRAM IN THE COUNTRY
Most people view Jews as a privileged group. Not needing of any defending. Or including in social justice circles. But the truth is, anti-Semitism remains one of the world’s top vehicles of hate and the main driver, along with hatred of Black people, of white supremacists. Race activist Jeffrey Kass advocates for including Jews in social justice efforts and to raise more voices against the oldest and still growing disease. Anti-Semitism.
TIME TO CELEBRATE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Lovers of peace and justice have a tough time assigning anything good to Donald Trump. By any standard, he stoked the flames of hatred, gave renewed voice to white supremacists and disrespected so many groups it was hard to keep track. From Charlottesville good people on both sides to Mexican rapists, nobody fighting for social justice respects Trump. So when 45 helped procure multiple peace agreements in the Middle East, many on the left remained silent. Author and activist Jeffrey Kass reminds us in this essay that the peace agreements he helped secure among Israel, UAE, Dubai and Morocco are good, regardless of the wrapping paper they came in. That anytime you bring former enemies to peace and normalization it’s a good thing.
This essay is a must read for people wanting intellectual honesty. Lovers of peace and justice have a tough time assigning anything good to Donald Trump. By any standard, he stoked the flames of hatred, gave renewed voice to white supremacists and disrespected so many groups it was hard to keep track. From Charlottesville good people on both sides to Mexican rapists, nobody fighting for social justice respects Trump. So when 45 helped procure multiple peace agreements in the Middle East, many on the left remained silent.
Author and activist Jeffrey Kass reminds us in this essay that the peace agreements he helped secure among Israel, UAE, Dubai and Morocco are good, regardless of the wrapping paper they came in. That anytime you bring former enemies to peace and normalization it’s a good thing. This essay is a must read for people wanting intellectual honesty.
THE FAILED AMERICAN MELTING POT EXPERIMENT
The story of Chanukah has nothing to do with gifts. It’s the story of the Jewish nation in the land of Israel living at the hands of Macedonian rulers. But unlike other abusers of the Jews, these rulers just wanted the Jews to assimilate. To blend in. To become part of the majority. This essay uses the backdrop of the Chanukah story as a guide for us not using the idea of us all melting into one type to achieve national success Author Jeffrey Kass advocates instead we appreciate and celebrate our own and others’ differences rather than melt them away.
DEFAMATION AND DISTRACTION
Too often people, particularly on the far left, are so quick to lump the Jews and Israel in with every colonial conquest the world has seen. They do this in the stated name of advocating for Palestinians. This essay dives into why this is counter-productive and actually doesn’t help the Palestinian cause. Author and activist Jeffrey Kass reminds us that the Jews have a 3,000 year connection to the land of Israel and didn’t colonialize anything. Recognizing rather than canceling the Jewish indigenous connection to that land will allow us to practice intellectual honesty and then actually address where the Jewish state has failed the Palestinians.
HUMANIZING HUMANS ONE MEAL AT A TIME
One of the biggest reasons we have so much disconnect in America is that Black and White folks aren’t taking time to get to know each other on a personal level. This essay advocates for starting with a meal. Not politics. Not issues. Not solutions. Just breaking bread with someone. We often talk over people who are different than ourselves. Like two ships passing in the night with so much lack of understanding of the other. It’s too easy to react to a news story or a traumatic event about another group if we haven’t taken the time to know people from that group on a deeper level. It all starts with a meal, argues author Jeffrey Kass in this essay.
THE ROADMAP OUT. A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE
People often ask what can I do to help end systemic racism and injustices. There are many layers to this, but Kass delves into why mindfully supporting Black-owned businesses is one important step in the path to real progress. He uses the backdrop of the Jewish experience coming to America and how they used support for their businesses to move up the American ladder.
Author Jeffrey Kass takes his three kids (now teenagers) on vacation every year. In recent years, that has involved trips overseas. But because his kids are Jewish and wear yarmulkes (Jewish head coverings) he often requires them to wear ballcaps because of the dangers Jews face in Europe and other places.
During COVID-19, he had to take them somewhere in the U.S., so they went to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for hiking, bike riding, tubing, ATVing and the like. He was reminded that as much as our country suffers from so many xenophobic ills, his kids didn’t have to wear baseball hats in the U.S. Kass uses this story has a backdrop for how we can end systemic racism in the U.S.
READING THE ESSAYS
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