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Rabbis for human rights group launches assume tank to push liberal Jewish concepts

(RNS) — A rabbinic human rights group primarily based in New York Metropolis introduced Thursday (Sept. 22) it was beginning a assume tank to supply a counterpoint to the rising prominence of conservative-leaning Jewish public coverage platforms.

The brand new institute for Jewish thought is known as “Emor,” from the Hebrew phrase “converse” (additionally the identify of a weekly Torah portion from the Ebook of Leviticus). It will likely be primarily based at T’ruah, the rabbinic human rights group, and provide instructing boards, movies and occasional publications, along with fellowships for school college students.

The thought is to articulate a imaginative and prescient of a simply society from a progressive perspective.

“The appropriate wing, together with Jewish establishments and donors, have invested massively in assume tanks and media which might be pushing concepts such because the backlash towards feminism, anti-racism and trans rights into the mainstream,” stated Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah’s CEO. “That is terrifying for these of us who care concerning the security and dignity of all members of our society. We additionally know that Judaism contains 1000’s of years of sensible individuals arguing about the right way to construct probably the most simply society.”

The assume tank will likely be run by leaders from T’ruah, together with Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson and Rabbi Becky Jaye. 

Whereas U.S. Jews are by and huge politically liberal, donations to Jewish causes have tended to stream into initiatives to maintain Jewish continuity and survival, which are usually conservative leaning, stated Lila Corwin Berman, a historical past professor at Temple College who research American Jewish philanthropy.

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Abby Levine, govt director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, recognized three points the place she believes a extra strong Jewish progressive response is required: antisemitism, racism and the Israel-Palestinian battle.

“We’re seeing a backlash to the progress we’ve made on racial justice and social justice,” stated Levine, whose roundtable consists of a community of 78 organizations that do social justice work.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs. Photograph courtesy of T’ruah

A group of essays on the problem of freedom is predicted to be one of many assume tank’s first contributions, Jacobs stated.

The previous decade has seen a development of Jewish coverage journals resembling Mosaic and Sapir that always mirror libertarian financial philosophies, skepticism about social justice conversations, and pro-Israel views. The journals are funded by the Tikvah Fund and the Maimonides Fund, each of which lean center-right on Jewish points.

“There’s a realization that within the absence of Emor these extra conservative voices go unchallenged and assist to form the dominant narrative on human rights, Israel/Palestine, antisemitism, egalitarianism, gender identification,” stated Mik Moore, a digital media strategist and an adviser to T’ruah. 

Jacobs stated Emor’s work just isn’t supposed to be purely for educational ends.

“It’s not concepts for the sake of concepts,” Jacobs stated, “however concepts for the sake of motion.”

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