Alumni spotlight: Joe Gindi

August 20, 2009 at 9:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Justice and Jewish Thought

By: Joe Gindi (Summer 2006)

The Jewish environmental and food movements are part of a broader efflorescence of self-consciously progressive/radical Judaism and Jewish community.  My own path to Adamah came via the inspiration I found working toward Jewish political activism and education during and after college.

For me, a small set of contemporary Jewish thinkers have been instrumental in providing the food for thought I needed to begin to sketch out a vision for what this form of Judaism and Jewish community could look like.  People like Art Green, Jonathan and Daniel Boyarin, Judith Plaskow, Art Waskow, Rachel Adler, Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and many others. I’m a pretty voracious reader, but I got the bulk of my progressive Jewish education in one fell swoop when I decided to facilitate a progressive Jewish reading group in DC.
Some friends back at school had put together a student forum in Radical Jewish Thought.  Since I’d graduated and moved away, I could not take the class, so I thought, “why not just run it out my living room?”  That experience turned out to be a powerful catalyst.  It solidified a young progressive community in DC, opened my mind about the possibilities (and challenges) of progressive Jews and Judaism, and ultimately encouraged me to pursue graduate studies in religion.  Different versions of that course have since been run by Jews United for Justice in DC and  Moishe House Boston: The Kavod Jewish Social Justice House , and now, this little student forum is about to hit the big time.

This fall AJWS and Avodah are coordinating a version of the Radical Jewish Thought course/reading group in NYC.  It’s really a pretty incredible syllabus of articles by some really thoughtful people writing on Judaism and Jewish identity in relation to progressive/radical politics.   It is also going to be a great opportunity to meet in small local groups for really stimulating conversation.  I’ve been consulting with AJWS on this, and I’m really excited by the possibility of small groups of folks all over the city working together to think through the possibilities of living a meaningful and socially engaged Jewish life.

The AJWS syllabus tends more towards questions pertaining to Jew (identity and politics) than Judaism (God, Halacha, revelation).  But, if it’s a success, I could see them offering a second version that highlights those questions (or of course, you can take this course back to its DIY roots and put together your own reading group.  I bet lots of Jewschool folks would be happy to post suggestions for that list in the comments).

If you are in the New York, you should definitely check this out. You can find more information at www.tiny.cc/jjt.

The radical Jewish revolution is at hand!!  ; )

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