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Embrace the Treyf - In the Press

Embrace the Treyf
Rooftopper Rav
September 25, 2007

Again, not my title. It's the name of Jewish Women Watching's new Sukkot project. Generally I'm an amused JWW fan, but I have mixed feelings about this campaign that I'm having some trouble articulating. I completely agree with the underlying idea, which is that the mainstream Jewish community needs to push itself to consider a broader range of issues and approaches to justice work, even- and especially-when those things challenge the status quo. But calling those issues and approaches "treyf," even to make the point that the mainstream community often won't touch them, seems somehow counterproductive. It might actually reinforce the misguided notion that working to rid our communities of entrenched sexism and homophobia is a radical fringe idea or that some communities aren't already working against gentrification and for affordable housing for all.

So what do you think? (And it would be lovely if we could limit the nastygrams on the subject of Palestinian human rights, please.)

September 24, 2007/ 12 Tishrei 5768 - Jewish Women Watching, the anonymous collective of feminist rabble rousers, will be appearing in sukkot around the country in the upcoming week. In addition to a surprise personal appearance at the JCC sukkah (details below), thousands of Jews received Sukkot decorations from the renegade group.

Unlike the uninspired plastic fruit and paper chains that normally adorn the sukkah, JWW's decorations consist of postcards urging the Jewish community to take their social activism one step further. Each postcard juxtaposes a social justice issue that is considered "kosher" in the organized Jewish community with one that is considered "treyf". For example, while fighting anti-Semitism is encouraged, fighting racism, sexism, and homophobia does not get the same stamp of approval.

In two other postcards, JWW critiques the focus on band-aid solutions versus more sustainable projects. The underlying question of these cards is: "If we really want no one to go hungry, then shouldn't we be doing more than mitzvah day?" The most inflammatory card points out the Jewish community's extraordinary focus on human rights abuses against Darfurians while ignoring human rights abuses against Palestinians. In all of these cases, the group demands that the Jewish Community "embrace the treyf," that is, devote resources and attention to issues that are considered treyf as well as those already stamped kosher.