Please note: since August 2010, JVoices has ceased publishing new work. We hope you enjoy the articles that remain live as an archive and trusted resource of bold Jewish writing of our time.
JVoices is your Jewish wake up call on some of the most controversial and compelling issues of our time. Tethered to the same goal of injecting progressive Jewish values into today’s Jewish and non-Jewish media landscape, we publish contributors from all over the world, not just talking about, but also embodying what we know to be the vastness of Jewish life.
Forget pluralism–we don’t pretend there aren’t power dynamics that squelch and prioritize some voices and traditions over others. We know the difference between disfranchisement and alienation, and we seek to remedy both. We live in, and love, our communities–in plural–because we live in many, and will not choose between them. That is a truth of our Jewishness.
We are Jews rooted in the pursuit of social, racial, gender, sexual and economic justice, who believe in progressive politics and emphasize social justice values, dreams, visions and joy.
Our goal is to stretch any and all assumptions; push beyond party lines and ideology; ask difficult questions to find what emerges amidst and between dividing lines; dream big, beautiful, radical, ritual, traditional, intellectual and visionary dreams; and to always be building on our vast tradition of broadening Jewish life.
We demand simply this: bring all of yourself to the table: www.jvoices.com
**As all community blogs state these days: the ideas, thoughts, and words published on JVoices by contributors and commenters are the opinions of those individuals only, and do not represent the views or positions of JVoices, or any organizations for which JVoices, the contributors and/or commenters may be affiliated with.
Cole Krawitz, Founder, Editor and Publisher
Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr.
Marisa Elana James
Henriette Dahan Kalev
Rabbi Elliot Rose Kukla
Rabbi Benyamin Levy
Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss
Gavriel Ansara is a polycultural polyglot from an observant Jewish background with ties to several continents. He is a board member of Keshet, Boston’s Jewish GLBTQI advocacy and education organization, and founder/coordinator of Tiferet, a Keshet project designed to meet the needs of Orthodox and traditionally observant Jews who self-identify as gender and/or sexual minorities. An educator, healer, and literary alchemist, his current research involves pioneering holistic psychological models for positive trans youth development and needs assessments for diverse trans youth populations to make successful transitions to adulthood. He has given numerous guest lectures and invited presentations.
Jen Chau is the Founder and Executive Director of Swirl, Inc., a national multi-ethnic organization founded in 2000 that challenges society’s notions of race through community building, education, and action. In addition, she is the National Director of People Development and Human Resources at New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit education reform organization. Jen co-founded New Demographic, an anti-racism training company, and continues to work on race issues and leadership through her roles within Swirl and New Leaders for New Schools.
Noach Dzmura is a recent graduate of the Richard S Dinner Center for Jewish Studies of the Graduate Theological Union. He works in Berkeley as a Communications Consultant. He is also a community educator and activist for transgender issues in the Bay Area. www.brerrabbi.com
Aaron Freeman is a journalist and stand up comedian and he insists there is a difference. Aaron wrote and performed the best-selling comedy CD “312 4 Ever” and is a popular commentator on National Public Radio’s flagship news program “All Things Considered.” He is also Ace Correspondent for Chicago Public Radio’s morning magazine “Eight Forty Eight.” Aaron co-wrote and directs the hit stage comedy “The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour.” He frequently performs with the famed Second City Theater and is a sought- after humorous speaker across America. Aaron performs his one man shows “News Today/Comedy Tonight” and “Kosher Chitterlings” for business groups, Jewish groups, colleges, associations and assorted capitalist functions across America.
Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. is rabbi and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, located in Chicago, IL at 6601 S. Kedzie Avenue. Rabbi Funnye also serves as a Senior Research Associate for the Institute of Jewish and Community Research, located in San Francisco, CA. Rabbi Funnye earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Literature and rabbinic ordination from the Israelite Board of Rabbis, Inc., Queens, NY. Rabbi Funnye also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and Master of Science in Human Service Administration from Spertus Institute of Judaica, Chicago, IL. Rabbi Funnye has served as a consultant to several institutions including; The Du Sable Museum of African American History, The Chicago Historical Society, The Spertus Museum of Judaica, all located in Chicago, IL. The Black Holocaust Museum, located in Milwaukee, WI, Institute for Jewish and Community Research, San Francisco, CA and the Afro-American Museum, located in Los Angeles, CA. Rabbi Funnye has lectured at numerous universities, synagogues, churches and various community organizations throughout the United States. Rabbi Funnye has appeared on several national and local television programs, and spoken on numerous radio programs both national and local. Rabbi Funnye is involved in a number of boards in the Jewish community; The Chicago Board of Rabbis, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Akiba Schechter Jewish Day School and Vice President of the Israelite Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Funnye is married and he and his wife Mary have four children and are the proud grandparents of five grandsons. Rabbi Funnye is available for lectures and discussion groups.
Aliza Hausman is a Latina Orthodox Jewish convert. Aliza is currently in the process of writing a memoir about her conversion to Orthodox Judaism. She writes about topics such as race, culture, religion, community, family, relationships, films and pop culture. She has been published in Latina magazine, The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Chronicle, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Jewish Living magazine, Interfaithfamily.com, TheJewishWoman.org magazine (Chabad.org), The Jewish Planet, PresenTense magazine, the YU Commentator: Kol Hamevaser, New York Family magazine, New York Family Brooklyn magazine, Tail Slate magazine, Tertulia Magazine, Verdad Magazine and other publications.
Walter Isaac: As a graduate fellow for the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies, Walter studies the theological anthropologies underlying the assertion of various historic Jewish communities in the African diaspora. His academic interests rest in the areas of liberation theology, Jewish legal theory, philosophical anthropology and comparative semitics. An honors graduate of both Bethune-Cookman College and Yale Divinity School, Walter is currently a PhD student in Temple’s department of Religion and a graduate fellow for the CAJS.
Marisa Elana James graduated from Makom Hebrew High School and the University of Connecticut, and is living in Jerusalem and studying at the Conservative Yeshiva. She has taught college literature and English as a Second Language classes at UConn and Rutgers, somehow ended up as an insurance broker, escaped from Wall Street, and is studying to be a cantor. Marisa spends her spare time writing Jewish-themed, queer-friendly kids’ books that she hopes will create a new subsection in the Dewey Decimal system, practicing her Arabic script, and writing indignant letters to important people.
Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz is a writer and poet, activist, scholar and teacher. A pioneer in women’s studies, she taught the first such course at the University of California at Berkeley in Comparative Literature, where she earned her Ph.D. Since then she has taught all over the U.S., twice as a distinguished chair–at Hamilton College and at Brooklyn College/CUNY, and in fields as diverse as Jewish Studies, Urban Studies, Race Theory, Public Policy, Gender and Queer Studies. For five years she directed the Queens College/CUNY Worker Education Extension Center in Manhattan, and she currently teaches at Queens College in the department of Comparative Literature. Born and raised in Brooklyn, a graduate of City College/CUNY, Melanie worked in the Harlem Civil Rights Movement as a teenager, and continues to be active in progressive movements, anti-war, lgbt, feminism, anti-racism, labor. She gave up a tenured teaching position to return to New York to work against racism in the Jewish community. She was the founding director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, for which she, along with her comrade Esther Kaplan was honored with a Union Square Award in 2005. See Melanie’s statement in the Jewish Women’s Archives in the exhibit on Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution. Her work is widely published and anthologized in the feminist, gay and lesbian, and progressive Jewish press. She co-founded the JFREJ radio program at WBAI (99.5 FM), Beyond the Pale and continues to guest-produce segments, especially interviewing writers about their work.
Cole Krawitz founded jvoices.com in 2006. Cole recently received the 2009 Be’chol Lashon Media Award in New Media. A writer and poet, Cole is completing a MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University’s Low-Residency Program. Cole has been awarded residencies and fellowships from Makor/92nd Street Y and the Lambda Literary Foundation. Cole currently teaches spoken word and creative writing with the June Jordan Poetry for the People Program at University of California, Berkeley. Cole’s articles have been published in Newsday, The Advocate, Huffington Post, The Forward, San Francisco Bay Times, JTA, AlterNet, Jerusalem Post, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Jewish Currents and more. His poems have been published in Zeek, OCHO and The Queer Collection: Prose and Poetry 2007. From 2006-2007, Cole was on air in New York on Beyond the Pale WBAI 99.5 with co-hosts Esther Kaplan and Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark.
Rabbi Elliot Rose Kukla recently moved to San Francisco where he will be a resident in Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Elliot was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006. He has been an activist, writer, organizer and educator for more than a decade. He has taught widely about sexual and gender diversity in Judaism in the US, Canada and Israel. His articles on the intersections between Judaism and justice appear in numerous magazines including Lilith and Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Art and Culture, as well as in anthologies published by New York University Press, Jewish Lights and the Union for Reform Judaism Press. For the last two years, Elliot served as the rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle, Toronto’s only queer-welcoming and social-justice oriented synagogue.
daniel lang/levitsky is a puppeteer and aspiring rabble-rouser based in new york city. third-generation radical, second-generation queer, light-skinned ashkenazi secular pro-diaspora jew. and yes, i do get off on long strings of identity terms. here are a few more: fem gendertreyf garlic-lover, presently able-bodied, with assigned-male baggage and addictions to chocolate and coffee. current projects include palestine solidarity organizing with Jews Against the Occupation/NYC, immigrant justice work with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and more half-finished shows than i’d like to admit.
Charles Lenchner is an Israeli-American, former refusenik, progressive activist. His day job is online advocacy, and most evenings he’s a single daddy man. He keeps Get Things Done and the Little Red Book of Selling by his bed. His long term goal is to witness the defeat of his enemies and rear his head back and cackle like Emperor Ming as he orders Flash Gordon’s death.
Tucker Lieberman believes we have already embarked on a Great Turning Point in human consciousness. What better time to explore what binds people to the Earth and to G-d? He is interested in topics of neuro-theology and non-violence. He also studies and writes on attitudes towards castration that appear in twentieth-century fiction, Renaissance travelogues and ancient sacred texts. With degrees in philosophy and journalism, his essays have appeared in the anthologies Finding the Real Me, Becoming, From the Inside Out, and the forthcoming Nobody Passes. He lives in New England and lights Shabbat candles with his Irish fiancé.
David Shasha is the director of the Center for Sephardic Heritage in Brooklyn, New York. The Center publishes the weekly e-mail newsletter Sephardic Heritage Update as well as promoting lectures and cultural events relevant to Sephardic culture. To subscribe to the newsletter or to contact David, e-mail him at davidshasha @ aol (dot) com.
Ella Shohat: Departments of Art & Public Policy, Middle Eastern Studies, and Comparative Literature Tisch School of the Arts New York University
Naomi Sobel is a recent arrival to Somerville, MA, who has also lived in New York City, Chicago, and Cape Town, South Africa. She is a writer, editor, food nut and queer femme with deep roots in progressive Judaism, a burgeoning interest in harnessing class privilege for radical social change, and a not-so-secret obsession with U.S. electoral politics. Her writing has appeared in print in The Nation and online at TheNation.com, JSpot.org and BR Footnote, a blog associated with Boston Review magazine. She serves on the planning committee for Making Money Make Change and spends an inordinate amount of time bicycling around the Boston area.
Robin Washington grew up in Chicago in a family of black and Jewish civil rights activists. Participating in sit-ins and protests when he was three years old, today he recalls those events fondly as “family outings.” A nationally award-winning journalist and commentator/guest on National Public Radio, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, CNN and the BBC, Washington is editorial page editor of Minnesota’s Duluth News Tribune. He was previously a columnist for the Boston Herald, authoring the newspaper’s popular “Roads Scholar” and “Square Deal” features, and spent two years covering the Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse scandal, on which he still comments for Knight Ridder newspapers. He also worked on the Boston Herald sports staff. Washington’s 25-year-plus print and broadcast career includes previous positions as a publisher, editor, producer and on-air reporter.
Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss: Dr. Weiss is assistant professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College. Combining her expertise in law and gender studies, her area of research is law and sexuality, particularly transgender issues in the law. Her blog, “Transgender Workplace Diversity,” can be found at jweissdiary.blogspot.com
Loolwa Khazzoom has published internationally, in news periodicals including The Washington Post and BBC News; in women’s magazines including Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire; in health periodicals including Self and Yoga Journal; in teen magazines including ELLEgirl and Seventeen; and in other media genres. (For clips, visit here). She is also the editor of The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage and author of Consequence: Beyond Resisting Rape.