…Brooklyn Bridge is the road we are taking back home. It is a Revolutionary Jewish newspaper. Jewish, because that is what we are; because our Jewishness plays an important part in shaping our total selves, and in the world we are trying to create we want to be full human beings, not assimilated nonentities; because we have learned – as have women, and blacks, and gay people – that unless we look out for ourselves, we are just as likely to be the victims of oppression in a revolutionary society as we are in this one. Revolutionary, because we realize that playing the roles America forces on us will destroy us as it destroyed our parents; because we see that for our people to be free, all people must be free and the deadly hands of America lifted off our backs. Our struggle begins at home, with the oppression we face as Jewish people in America. We have been trapped in the buffer-zone between other oppressed peoples and the ruling class; shunted into the bureaucracies of the military-industrial-education complex. The commitment of our people to find meaningful and human work – to build a decent society, as teachers, doctors, scientists – is impossible in obscene America. It only alienates us and is used against us. The age-old oppression of Jew-hating and Jew-baiting is like any other racism, both irrational and calculated at the same time. False myths and stereotypes have been imposed on us for centuries. The idea that assimilation through the “melting pot” will end Jew-hating is a dehumanizing lie. Assimilation means believing those myths and stereotypes. It means being cut off from our own history, being cut off from each other. Attempts to assimilate have led us to self-hatred. But no matter how much we might have effaced our spirit, Jews as a nation remain a reality in America, as much of a reality as Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Italians. Brooklyn Bridge is a voice in the struggle to define ourselves. Organized Judaism and the “Jewish establishment” have failed us. The institutions and organizations created to serve the needs and goals of Jewish People have co-opted to serve other interests. They represent us as a religion, rather than as the nation we are. Jewish philanthropy no longer aids Jews who need it; Jewish education tones down our people’s historic fight to survive and teaches us to be “nice Jewish boys and girls.” Our culture has been made rigid in the name of tradition and continues sexist oppression both in religious practice and in day-to-day life. Our synagogues are no longer the nexus of our community, but often only temples of ill-founded self-congratulations. …As Jews we have fully experienced the horrors of genocide, racism, and exploitation. As Jews we carry a vision rising out of our tradition of a radical and inclusive social justice. As women and men struggling to survive in America we know we must destroy sexism, elitism, and all other systems of domination that threaten to debilitate our struggle. We will grow in our struggle and we will win. Rights Owner: Brooklyn Bridge Collective, 1971 Description: The Brooklyn Bridge Collective was small countercultural Jewish community. They wrote a newspaper called Brooklyn Bridge. This excerpt was taken from an article published in the first issue of the community's newspaper and described the new vision for Judaism held by the Collective.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
For discussion questions and related lesson plan, visit http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/moving-inward-bringing-liberation-movements-into-jewish-community
Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)