What JFREJ Does
JFREJ’s membership has strengthened a progressive Jewish voice in debates over our city’s future and has activated the established Jewish community as a partner in citywide struggles for justice. Through educational fora, workshops, grassroots political campaigns, and a weekly radio program, JFREJ is committed to revitalizing a Jewish ethic of social justice, cooperation and mutual struggle for human dignity. In coalition with communities of color and labor organizations, JFREJ works to achieve economic equality and an end to all forms of racism by organizing for social programs, housing, education, fair labor practices, accountable policing, and immigrants’ rights. JFREJ’s educational programs and activism make connections between anti-Semitism and racism, and between Jewish and other radical histories and contemporary movements for justice.
JFREJ currently has two primary campaigns: Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers Campaign and Campaign Against Discriminatory Policing. JFREJ organizes to advance systemic changes that result in concrete improvements in people’s daily lives. We work on campaigns where Jewish support can have a strategic role in winning decisive victories. Our campaigns forge alliances across race and class lines, fostering solidarity and trust in our communities. Through our campaigns, JFREJ develops the leadership skills of our membership and creates educational tools that link the history of Jewish social justice efforts to today’s active struggles.
Since 1990, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has been essential in revitalizing a Jewish ethic of social justice, growing the culture of creativity, cooperation and mutual struggle for human dignity. In partnership with our members and allies who are artists and cultural workers, JFREJ strives to bring art and culture to the center of our work. We see cultural work as a focal point for engaging and developing our membership. JFREJ organizes Jewish holiday and political celebrations that link the rich history of Jewish and radical activism to our cultural traditions. Our annual Purim, Seder in the Streets, and Tashlikh events bring together a diverse inter-generational crowd of Jewish artists, activists and our friends. Through our cultural programming, JFREJ strengthens both the New York City radical Jewish community and the political campaigns in which we are engaging. Through the creative planning process, these programs are vehicles for leadership development and are a forum for JFREJ members develop a political and artistic community—learning, art-making and fighting for justice together.
The Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship is the leadership development program of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. The organizing fellowship is an opportunity for JFREJ leaders to develop their skills and political analysis, while doing work to support the campaigns, events, and infrastructure of JFREJ. The Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship incorporates a variety of components to fully support and develop the skills of leaders.
JFREJ established the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award in 1995 to honor those who have taken extraordinary risks in the pursuit of justice. Every year in the fall we find a new risk taker and honor them at a fundraising gala. The Meyer Awards are JFREJ's main fundraising event.
When Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer (1930-1993) hosted one of the earliest planning meetings of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice at his home in 1990, he offered more than a space to gather. He lent his energy, his wisdom, his nitty-gritty activism, his powerful sense of urgency, his vision, his colossal sense of commitment, his willingness to put acceptance and safety at risk to fight for what is just.
Rabbi Meyer, rabbi of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in New York City, was a fighter for social justice who spoke out against the military dictatorship in Argentina, fought for Israeli-Palestinian peace and opposed racism, homophobia, and economic inequality wherever he encountered them. (Jacobo Timerman dedicated Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number to him.) He was a man of energy, vision and commitment who was willing to put acceptance and safety at risk to struggle for a better world. Teacher, comrade, friend, rabbi, Marshall was an inspiration for JFREJ, for countless others, and for generations of activists to come.
Join us at this year's Meyer Awards!
Beyond the Pale: The Progressive Jewish Radio Hour
JFREJ's show, Beyond the Pale: The Progressive Jewish Radio Hour, airs weekly on WBAI, 99.5 FM. Show themes have included Jewish women's history, the Jewish stake in the fate of our public schools and universities, connections between Jewish spiritual practice and social action, the Middle East peace process, and anti-Semitism on the Christian Right.
Beyond the Pale airs on Sundays on WBAI: noon - 1pm
www.beyondthepale.org (listener-supported community radio).
Archives of Beyond the Pale are now available online.
Hosts: Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark and Esther Kaplan
Produced By: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Beyond the Pale is the only Jewish program on radio or television devoted to bringing a progressive Jewish perspective to political and cultural debates. In politically reactionary times like these, when the public voices of the Jewish community align themselves with the conservative forces that currently dominate local and national politics and political discourse, Beyond the Pale brings audiences the critical perspectives, and visions for social change that are the proud legacy of Jewish radicalism.
Doykayt and International Statement
JFREJ has a strong belief in the Bundist tradition of doykayt ("hereness") - the idea that Jews, in coalition with others, should focus their struggle for universal equality and justice in the place where they live. In this spirit, JFREJ rejects the notion that as a Jewish American organization we are required to take a position on the Israel/Palestine conflict, nor do we believe that our identity or priorities as a Jewish organization should be determined by the actions of Jews in another country. Click here for JFREJ's Policy on International Issues.
JFREJ recognizes that local, national, and international issues are inextricably linked. We believe that, as residents of the United States, we have cause to speak out on matters related to our own government's foreign policies.We believe in collaborating with organizations with whom we have common cause here in New York. JFREJ takes positions on foreigh affairs in limited situations only; when the issue relates directly to our local work and taking a position facilitates that work, or when there is a clear and compelling need to present an alternative Jewish voice that is not being presented by other visible Jewish groups. JFREJ is a community of Jews with diverse political and ideological relationships to this situation- JFREJ members are Zionists and post-Zionists, non-Zionists, anti-Zionists and those with no identification with these framings.