demonstration against Amazon

2019 Note from the Board

Dear Friends,

Happy May Day! Did blocking Amazon from setting up HQ2 in Long Island City make you feel powerful and believe the impossible is possible if neighbors, students, workers, seniors, millennials, people with disabilities, families and more all come together?

Now, imagine what it might feel like to go from successfully blocking the worst from happening, to building a New York City that works for all of us, not just the mega wealthy few.

The JFREJ board, together with staff and leadership, is launching a six month course of study, research, and action designed to help us do just that. And we’re kicking off with an evening in conversation with some of the organizers and thinkers we admire most.

Winning where we are: democratic strategy & the Jewish left in NYC
Thursday, June 20th 6-9 PM
NYC Conference Center at Cornell ILR, 570 Lexington Avenue #12th Floor
Register today!

Here in New York and nationally, we are faced with a political moment ripe with threat and opportunity. We believe it is our responsibility to examine and build upon the principles and strategies we collectively created and adopted in 2015 so JFREJ can become the most effective and leaderful organization it can be. To do so, the JFREJ Board of Directors is inviting active JFREJ members to be a part of a course of study, discussion, and reflection that we believe will make our work that much more powerful and impactful.

I’m proud to be part of such an active membership that’s taken on the challenge of this moment in such significant ways:

  • Developing groundbreaking campaigns with wide ranging partners to win systemic change in NYC, e.g. the Caring Majority, an unprecedented effort to transform our care economy
  • Breaking new ground with vibrant diasporic cultural organizing (like this past weekend’s glorious Mimouna and our upcoming second Juneteenth Seder)
  • Leading Jews and others around the country in Understanding Antisemitism, helping to start new national Jewish conversations around white and Christian nationalism
  • Founding a sister organization, The Jewish Vote, to organize Jews into the progressive electoral insurgency

On most fronts—from elections to defeating Amazon to living an inclusive, joyful, vibrant Jewish life—there’s lots to celebrate about the last few years.

And, well, as we’ve grown we’ve seen and felt our gaps and growing pains. With others on the board and staff, I’ve been part of a strategic inquiry these past three months to address how best to meet this moment. One outcome is a partnership with the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research to design a tailored course of study for our membership and others in our community, informed by secular and Jewish thought, to deepen our knowledge and analysis and to provide a shared vocabulary so we can better wrestle together with the big questions we are facing in our work, inside JFREJ, among the members of The Jewish Vote, and externally.

We’re clear on some stuff. We know the best way to push back against fascism is by expanding our democracy and shared prosperity. We know we’re in this fight with our long-standing allies, one another and a whole lot of new people. This time of learning and deliberation is about becoming a more interconnected body politic that has enough shared language, vision, and purpose to lead and move our organization effectively. We’ll make transparent our agreements and, equally important, our disagreements, and make the most productive use of both!

Your ideas, relationships, and experience are important to our shared organization. Which is why we hope you’ll join us on Thursday, June 20th to help us kick off this journey with some leading thinkers in our movements today. We’ll be joined by:

Together, we will learn about and grapple with key strategic questions facing our movement and organization in this moment:

  • What has become possible and what can we do to build a winning Left Strategy here where we are, in New York City?
  • Two plus years into the Trump administration, what have we learned about ourselves—about effective resistance and transformative strategy? What have we learned about our opponents and what we’re up against?

Together with our partners, let’s help write this new chapter in New York’s history and make this a place where everyone can live healthy, thriving, interdependent lives.

See you on June 20th!

In it together,

Dania Rajendra
JFREJ Board of Directors

P.S. As we approach this evening when many Jews will be commemorating the Holocaust, we hope you will check out this powerful action by our partners at Bend The Arc, urging leaders across many voices, faiths, and identities to replace the threat of modern-day hate, violence, and white nationalism with love and solidarity.