Why Jews must stand up for
Our Mission is to support liberal principles of free thought and expression, advance viewpoint diversity, counter the imposition of the Critical Social Justice (CSJ) ideology in the Jewish community, and highlight and oppose novel forms of antisemitism emerging from this ideology.
Welcome to the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV)! We are a new organization that supports the free expression of ideas and helps Jewish organizations that care about true social justice prevent the encroachment of the Critical Social Justice (CSJ) approach in the Jewish world.
The latest ideological trends and litmus tests prevent us from having important conversations and openly expressing ourselves. The proponents of these ideologies insist that people must agree with their view about social disparities on complicated topics such as race and gender. We don’t discount the view that there is bias and bigotry embedded in society’s structures. We just don’t think that’s the only set of views that should be aired, and we want Jews who have other ideas to be free to speak and be heard.
We believe that the capacity to discuss ideas and consider a wide range of views is critical for any thriving liberal society. Unfortunately, Jewish organizations have not been spared from efforts to silence dissent, and as a result, that capacity is being diminished in the Jewish world. If we cannot speak freely about challenging topics and difficult problems, people will only talk to people who agree with them. Without “argument for the sake of heaven” (machloket l’shem shamayim) we will be unable to solve problems together.
So what should we do about it?
The founders of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values launched “A Letter to our Fellow Jews on equality and liberal values,” patterned after the Harper’s Letter of the Summer of 2021. We asked prominent members of the Jewish community to sign it to express their support for liberal values. We published the letter on May 5th, 2021, and opened it up for interested members of the Jewish community to consider and sign.
We simultaneously launched JILV in order to have a meaningful impact on Jewish civic discourse.
JILV is a resource on Critical Social Justice and liberalism for Jewish organizations. We facilitate discussions on sensitive topics; produce educational materials, articles, and videos; conduct advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and effect change; and organize key stakeholders, such as Rabbis, to advance Jewish and liberal values. In short, we aim to enrich the conversation within the Jewish world and empower Jews to protect liberalism, free expression, and democratic ideals.
If you feel as strongly as we do that liberalism is worth protecting, we invite you to join us in this critical work.
Freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; … that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.
The Challenge to Liberalism in the
Americans have work to do in curtailing racism and inequality. We must undertake this work, however, in a spirit of intellectual honesty and integrity. Critical Social Justice—the idea that there are hidden systems of oppression in America and that only marginalized people have the standing to define them—is a rising phenomenon in the organized Jewish community. It tends to stifle alternative views and prevents due consideration of such issues as racial justice and gender identity. Absent a balanced discussion, CSJ can corrupt the core values of many institutions and lead to cultures that restrict free thought. Such absolutist sentiment is a threat to the country and the Jewish community and fans the flames of antisemitism.
To learn more about CSJ and antisemitism, click here.
Jewish civic life in the democratic tradition
Suppression of Dissent
collective moral guilt
Rising Ideological Antisemitism
Stand with us
Sign the Letter on Equality and Liberal Values in the Jewish Community
How we Influence
Currently, the response to Critical Social Justice has been mixed in the Jewish world. There are Jewish groups that firmly oppose or ignore CSJ. There are groups that enthusiastically endorse it. And there are many mainstream Jewish organizations—national and local—that have yet to develop a clearly defined position. The Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV) will help Jewish organizations and individuals hold constructive conversations about CSJ and ensure a balanced approach.
JILV aims to reinforce Jewish values, such as discourse and debate, that are especially important for challenging topics. We don’t have to agree with one another—about politics or even religion—to come together and stand up for democratic liberal values.
EDUCATOR: Provide Jewish community learning opportunities on CSJ and liberalism and the connection of this ideology to antisemitism
FACILITATOR: Issue discussion guides and lead discussions of complicated issues on social justice with Jewish organizations
PRODUCER: Generate educational materials, blog posts, virtual meetings, videos and podcasts
MOBILIZER: Conduct advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and advance change
COLLABORATOR: Create meaningful connections with the broader movement for liberalism in American society
ORGANIZER: Assemble constituencies (e.g. rabbis, scholars, Jewish professionals, lay leaders, etc.) within the Jewish community
Subscribe to our newsletter
News & Blog
We post regularly about Liberal Values in the Jewish community. We invite JILV followers to contribute articles to our blog on relevant topics. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing.
Tuesday, August 9th at 11:00 AM EST LIVESTREAM Eight years ago, the nation watched as the city of Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in the wake of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, a Black man. The protesters chanted "Black lives matter" in the streets of...
Apart from raw animus against the Jewish State, how could any thoughtful person today regard Russia and Israel on the same plane when Russia is waging a war of aggression? The campus of Harvard University at Cambridge, Massachusetts. AP/Elise Amendola, file During my...
The answer to ideological education isn’t to ban the ideology but to make room for alternative views.
Conventional wisdom has it that there are only two sides in the culture war over kids’ instruction on race and racism in America. Those on the right want to impose state-level bans on teaching critical race theory in public schools. Some also want to remove particular books from libraries and curriculums. On the left, people want to teach about America’s history of racism and contemporary systemic racism but from only one perspective, with little if any room for debate.