Letters from Our Readers

On “What Comes Next for Jews of Color Activism?”
While we applaud Arielle Isack’s article for calling out the failures of American Jewish institutions to become truly anti-racist, the piece significantly understates both the role of Palestine solidarity in Jews of color organizing and the way that efforts to silence anti-Zionist ideas have impeded anti-racist work in Jewish spaces. The references to Palestine in the piece—including one to a... more

On “Attention Must Be Paid”
Thank you for Alisa Solomon’s wonderful review of Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, and for the rich podcast discussion about the play, as well. Solomon perfectly articulates a feeling I had about the play when she writes that the character Hermann’s realization of his own horrible fate—as a Jew in Vienna in 1939—is “a worn-out anagnorisis, a tragic recognition that has become... more
Hillary Miller
Brooklyn, NY
On “The Right to Grieve”
In grief and mourning, Erik Baker has landed on a subject that reveals the central power struggle between boss and worker. That said, in limiting his focus to 20th century unionism’s negotiations at the bargaining table, Baker defangs the revolutionary aspirations of many of the people and movements he cites. Hovering just outside the frame of Baker’s piece is the... more
Leah Alpern
Portland, OR
On the Rest Issue coloring book
I’m writing from Warren Correctional Institution in Manson, North Carolina to share some of the wisdom of the state prison system. Jewish Currents’s 2022 Rest issue coloring book is considered a threat to order, security, and safety because some of the illustrations include nudity, and so it’s been disallowed. I just received the final determination after I appealed the decision... more
Yisroel Azariah
Warren Correctional Institution, North Carolina
On “Shall We Not Revenge?”
I would like to communicate my thanks to Sanders Isaac Bernstein for this engaged take on my work. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have rarely, if ever, seen such an in-depth discussion of my work in a German-language outlet. And I hope to respond with the same kindness and seriousness that I sense in the article... more
Max Czollek
Berlin, Germany
Sanders Isaac Bernstein’s critique of the fantasy of revenge for the Shoah feels almost completely right. As a history teacher, when my students would ask if I’d seen Inglourious Basterds, I’d tell them that I don’t waste my time with myths and fables about the destruction of Europe’s Jews and so many others. If there is one flaw in Bernstein’s... more
Anna Wrobel
Westbrook, Maine
On “New Report Could Hamstring Palestine Advocacy in Britain’s Largest Student Organization”
Dahlia Krutkovich’s article provides important insight into the ongoing battle over Palestine advocacy in the UK, especially the role of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. However, it misses past instances where the IHRA definition has played a key role in excluding pro-Palestinian leaders from key roles in the National Union of Students (NUS), which actually predate the definition’s use in... more
Rowan Gaudet
Berlin, Germany
Dahlia Krutkovich’s article on the Tuck report is very helpful in explaining what is going on in the NUS to an international audience. However, it should be noted that it is only very recently—in the last ten years—that supporters of Palestinian rights have gained leadership positions in NUS. For many years, the union was dominated by fiercely Zionist student organizers... more
Mike Cushman
London, UK
On “The Nationalist Heresy of the Temple Mount”
I appreciate Joshua Leifer’s close look at Jewish visits to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif within the context of Ben Gvir's recent ascent. His engagement with the history of such visits is valuable and his consideration of the grave political consequences instructive. However, I take issue with his treatment of the halachic considerations involved. In Leifer’s telling, “Israeli religious Zionism has... more
Gilah Kletenik
Boston, Massachusetts
On “Days of Rest”
I wanted to thank the editors for their crucial analysis on the importance of Shabbat. Too often, when we think about Shabbat, we focus on what is not allowed, but there is another profound lesson to consider alongside the forbidden. While the Bible’s 39 categories of work tell us what not to do on Shabbat, they also inform what we... more
Michael M. Cohen
Manchester Center, Vermont
I was extremely pleased to see the staff’s discussion in the Rest issue responsa of how anti-work politics can be informed not only by a Marxist tradition but also by the practice of Shabbat. While I was excited by the essay’s point that the Sabbath enables us to access a world to come despite the constraints of the present, I... more
Samuel Rosenblum
Ithaca, NY
On “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
I thought something was missing from your conversation “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” One of the more important reasons I am not crazy about Christmas as a Jew is that it reveals how our society is not actually pluralistic, how it passes off a Christian religious and cultural practice as simply an American season of giving—thrusting its trappings... more
Marcia Jaffe
San Rafael, California
As a boomer-aged Jew who grew up in New York City and raised a child with a non-Jewish spouse, I enjoyed the lively conversation about Christmas, the big winter holiday that isn’t ours. But I found it odd that no one mentioned that Jewish children—and perhaps also non-Jews—might think of Hanukkah as “Jewish Christmas,” and that no one spoke about... more
Cliff Stanley
Berkeley, California
On “The Sanitizing of Conservative Judaism”
Allen Lipson’s article thoughtfully charts how Conservative synagogues were used as tools for the deradicalization of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in America. Partly as a result of this push to assimilate, for generations many left-wing Jews have found their political and spiritual home outside religious Judaism and its institutions. We can see this in the history of Jewish Currents itself, which... more
Guy Tabachnick
New York, NY
Editor’s Note: We appreciate your response to Lipson’s article and your generous critique of the magazine’s relationship to both secularism and religious Judaism; we’re grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our perspective on these issues in the context of the long history of Jewish Currents. As you correctly note, the magazine began as a proudly secular publication. For editors... more

On “A Pantomimed Reckoning”
Without diminishing Hazem Fahmy’s overarching analysis and conclusions in “A Pantomimed Reckoning,” I would like to offer two points that complicate the issues under consideration, and perhaps suggest that the Israeli artists critiqued in the piece merit a measure of empathy. The first is that Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, an escalation of its war on the Palestine Liberation Organization... more
Asaf Koliner
On “The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies”
I am grateful for Mari Cohen's reporting in "The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies," in which she reveals the context behind the massive retraction of donor funds from the University of Washington's Israel Studies program because of Liora Halperin's political views. I was frustrated, however, to read the comments of Association for Israel Studies president Arieh Saposnik asserting... more
Arbella Bet-Shlimon
Seattle, WA
On “The Political Unconscious”
I appreciate Eta Demby’s thoughtful portrayal of psychoanalysis in Israel and Palestine, including her conclusion that demands for recognition should be linked to material demands for equality. However, I take issue with her characterization of the Acknowledgment Project and my psychoanalytic theory. The Acknowledgment Project aimed not to whitewash colonial domination but to have Israelis acknowledge their responsibility for the... more
Jessica Benjamin
New York, NY
On “Therapy Was Never Secular”
hannah baer’s piece “Therapy Was Never Secular” embraces the re-enchantment thesis, which was developed in philosophy and religious studies using the work of the philosopher Charles Taylor, and which calls for a return to a spirituality that secular modernity has supposedly destroyed. This paradigm imagines “the secular”—a concept that is best understood as a strategy by which Protestant states manage... more
Ben Bequette
Tempe, AZ
As a new therapist who is Jewish and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I found “Therapy Was Never Secular” to be the piece I didn’t know I needed. Like the students hannah baer describes, I was likely first drawn to the mental health field in an attempt to better understand incomprehensible loss and intergenerational trauma—in other words, to understand my... more
Sophie M.
Brooklyn, NY
hannah baer’s article “Therapy Was Never Secular” cogently calls on psychotherapists to more deeply engage the “sacredness” of their work, insightfully drawing attention to the repressed influence of Jewish mysticism on the emergence of psychoanalysis. One way to bridge the gap baer so poignantly exposes is through the work of Fischl Schneersohn (1888–1958). A scion of Chabad’s dynasty of Hasidic... more
Eli Rubin
Pittsburgh, PA
On “In Internal Memo, American Jewish Committee Blasts Op-Ed on ‘Jewish-Free Zones’ at Berkeley Law”
Your article about the University of California Berkeley School of Law erroneously states that Kenneth Marcus “pioneered” the “strategy” of filing civil rights complaints using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to remedy campus environments that are hostile to Jewish students. While Marcus has surely been an impactful advocate for Jewish students, it was the Zionist Organization of America... more
Susan B. Tuchman
New York, New York
On “The Mapping Project” Podcast
The June 30th podcast episode raised concerns about The Mapping Project—an anonymous activist effort aiming to document, in their words, "local [Massachusetts] institutional support for the colonization of Palestine and harms that we see as linked," including US colonialism and imperialism—interrogating its specific political purpose or utility for political organizing. These important questions notwithstanding, I was struck by the sheer... more
Brendan O'Connor
Northampton, Massachusetts
On “Against Impossibility”
Despite enjoying Helen Betya Rubinstein’s review of Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory, I came away thinking that it rests on a misreading of Stepanova, W.G. Sebald, and Saidiya Hartman, and their ostensibly opposed conceptions of the narration of lost histories. Rubinstein sees Hartman’s “critical fabulation,” a narrative technique for telling fully human stories about those whom history has tried... more
Jack Hanson
Brooklyn, NY
On “Rehearsing Defeat”
In a recent essay on the state of abortion and reproductive justice organizing, Arielle Angel bemoans a depressingly tame rally held at Foley Square the day after the leak of the Supreme Court memo, offering up a “fantasy in which leftists and liberals band together to suspend business as usual. Clinic defense, yes, but also, offense. Occupy the statehouses in... more
Safia Albaiti, Camila Valle, and Nantina Vgontzas
New York, NY
On “The Politically Expedient Jewishness of Éric Zemmour”
In Mitchell Abidor and Miguel Lago’s recent article, “The Politically Expedient Jewishness of Éric Zemmour,” the authors neglect an issue that is central to the subject at hand: Zemmour’s specifically Algerian Jewish ancestry, which is mentioned only in passing. This is far from a mere biographical detail. Rather, understanding Zemmour’s particular background makes him much more legible as a far-right... more
Ilan Benattar
Los Angeles, CA
On “Travesty Show”
I've never set foot in Ukraine, and yet I grew up in its shadow in southern Brooklyn. Much like the actual Ukraine is missing from my life as a post-Soviet Jew, there's something of Ukrainian Jewry that is distinctly lacking from Nicholas Muellner and Helen Betya Rubinstein’s essay “Travesty Show.” One has to ask of Muellner and Rubinstein’s young Ukrainian... more
R. Terdiman
Brooklyn, NY
On “From Minneapolis to Jerusalem”
The Fall 2021 issue of Jewish Currents featured an excellent article by Hannah Black, “From Minneapolis to Jerusalem: On Black-Palestinian Solidarity.” Readers who want to dig deeper into the subject would do well to consult historian Michael R. Fischbach’s two-volume study, Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color and The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict... more
Rod Such
Portland, Oregon
On “When Settler Becomes Native”
As someone who is both Jewish and Native (Quechua), I greatly appreciated “When Settler Becomes Native” in your Fall issue. It’s a concise but thorough resource that I will definitely be recommending. Unfortunately, the piece also engages in Indigenous erasure and anti-Native language. Firstly, the piece suffers from an overall failure to mention Native/Indigenous Jews. Jewish Natives are already invisibilized... more
Daniel Delgado
Chuk’shon, O’odham Jewed (Tucson, AZ)
I found JB Brager's recent comic interesting and engaging, but I'm frustrated by the discussion of this issue as a simplistic binary: either Jews are Indigenous to Palestine and are therefore entitled to a Jewish state while Palestinians have no such right, or Jewish claims of indigeneity to Palestine are entirely invalid. Why can't Israeli Jews and Palestinians both legitimately... more
Robert Kirchner
Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Canada)
The recent comic "When Settler Becomes Native" speaks to important issues around Jewish claims to indigeneity in Israel. However, a Mizrahi friend brought to my attention that it would have been more appropriate to depict Ashkenazi activists making these claims. Pointing to comments made by Hen Mazzig and Rudy Rochman, two Mizrahi Jews, can be experienced as racist, leaving much... more
Rebekah Erev
Squaxin, Nisqually, Chehalis land (Olympia, WA)
I appreciate the tremendous work that went into pulling together many complex strands in the comic “When Settler Becomes Native.” In my organizing with Jews on Ohlone Land and in my studies of Jewish relationships with Indigenous people, I’ve circled around similar topics. What I feel is often missing from these conversations, and is absent from JB Brager’s comic, is... more
Leora Cockrell
Huichin (Berkeley, CA)
On “What the Record Doesn’t Show”
Vicky Osterweil significantly mischaracterizes Sarah Schulman’s project and arguments in Let the Record Show, Schulman’s history of ACT UP New York released this spring. Osterweil primarily criticizes Schulman’s methods: Let the Record Show draws largely from nearly 200 interviews with surviving members of ACT UP New York, and Osterweil believes this skews the book’s focus toward the “cis white gay... more
Kay Gabriel
Brooklyn, NY
On “On Loving Jews”
I enjoyed Arielle Angel’s recent essay, “On Loving Jews.” But I would like to add one point. Angel is correct that Gershom Scholem’s concept of “ahavath Israel, or love for the Jewish people,” does not appear in the Bible, but nor does it originate in a commentary to Leviticus. In fact, it appears nowhere in classical rabbinic literature. Many rabbis... more
Raffi Magarik
Chicago, Illinois
There is one highly pertinent point which I found sorely lacking in Arielle Angel’s otherwise thought-provoking text: that opposition to Zionism can actually be motivated by—be an expression of—concern for collective Jewish safety. This was a major theme of Jewish opposition to Zionism long before the formation of the State of Israel, which many Jews warned would bring new dangers... more
Michael Sappir
Leipzig, Germany
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