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The Pledge
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Tone & Goals


This pledge is designed to have simple, poetic language that can inspire two very different audiences who are at different levels of political understanding. 

 

It should speak both to a 1st circle - Jews highly committed or connected to BLM work - and also to a broad 2nd circle: Non-Black Jews who care about racism but feel more tentative about engaging in this activism, or who might be quicker to pull away when challenges arise around antisemitism. Picture a non-Black Jew in a local Tikkun Olam committee, reading their first book by Ibram X. Kendi because they heard on Facebook that it would be a good first step; the language should be accessible and moving to them, without requiring them to have, or buy into, a high-level political analysis. It also matters that Black non-Jews who see the pledge feel embraced by the language. 

 

This document has one main goal: To help signers commit as Jews to one shared principle - that Jews stay in the movement for Black lives and against white supremacy, no matter what comes up around antisemitism. While all of us from different Jewish backgrounds can sign on, those of us who are not Black will be asked to take it a step further - to use the pledge as an organizing tool and conversation-starter for 1:1 conversations with other non-Black Jews. 

 

This is not a doc that shows people how to be anti-racists, or teaches them a full political analysis. While we ultimately want non-Black Jews to grasp deeper issues - such as the need for white Ashkenazi Jews to step back from dominance over power, resources and cultural norms, or Jewish communal obligations to reparations, or the role of antisemitism in upholding the 1% - they will have the best chance at internalizing these ideas if they get through Step 1: staying in the movement. This document therefore avoids the kind of specialized political language that appeals the most to people who already agree with us. Instead, it aims to offer a simple, moving entry into one conversation which has lasting implications.

Current Plan

 

This plan is open to your comments or suggested changes. Please share feedback here, or arrange a conversation: jewishpersistence@gmail.com.

 

FEEDBACK PHASE (this is the current phase): 

  • Continue to incorporate feedback from a wide range of Black Jewish leaders & community members. Accept feedback from a limited number of non-Black Jews whose organizing focuses on the pledge's key goal.

  • Make sure all contributors have the chance to see a final version of the pledge 48 hours before it is launched, so that people who have asked to be named can make sure they are still comfortable with the final version.

 

LAUNCH PHASE (early October?):

  • Invite a first wave of Jewish activists (people in “Circle One” - ie, those already involved in BLM work & sympathetic to pledge goals) to a multiracial Jewish organizing call. The call will explain why the pledge was created & how to use it. Non-Black Jews on the call will be asked to commit to specific organizing tasks (below).

  • Launch the pledge online, along with a web toolkit and “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Ask people to sign the pledge with their first names, or Jewish names, only. The goal is to emphasize that this is a personal commitment - not a performative public act or a source of cred.

  • Collect emails of signers so that they can be followed up with for future organizing.

ORGANIZING PHASE:

  • The pledge will be available for online and printable use. It will be designed to resemble a page of Talmud, with space for signers to make notes to themselves about their own thoughts & questions about the ideas raised in the pledge.

  • Non-Black Jews will schedule 1:1 conversations with other non-Black Jews (those in “Circle Two” - sympathetic to BLM, but more tentative, newer to taking action, or more likely to pull back from the movement when fears about antisemitism arise). Encourage people to choose conversation partners with whom they have a positive relationship, trust & good rapport. The message is, “I want to be on this path with you. Will you join me?”

  • The web toolkit will also offer templates for how to set up events around the pledge in local synagogues, Jewish high schools, etc.

  • The goal is not to get every person in Circle Two to sign the pledge. The goal is to use the question, “Could you see yourself signing this?” as a way to start meaningful conversations and leave new thoughts sitting in a lasting way in the minds of this wider circle of non-Black Jews. Nudging these Jews even slightly - toward a new vision of how to fight antisemitism, toward considering more serious commitment to solidarity with Black Jews and gentiles and other targeted communities - will position them to respond in a different way the next time fearmongering and divisive tactics are used to draw their support away from BLM and other critical issues.

  • Encourage signers to stay connected locally, support each other, work together on the ground, and use what they learn to help their local Jewish communities follow "best practices" when concerns (or false charges) of antisemitism arise.