The current picture inside the Jewish community
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 will help Jewish organizations and individuals hold constructive conversations about CSJ and ensure balanced approaches.
Goals for JILV
- Enable, empower and equip Jews who support liberalism and oppose the imposition of CSJ to come forward
- Raise awareness in mainstream Jewish organizations on the complexities of social justice and encourage deliberation
- Ensure that Jewish civic culture does not become dominated by a single ideology
- Educate the larger Jewish community on the dangers of imposing CSJ and build a strong counter-movement
- Highlight how CSJ ideology fuels novel forms of anti-Zionism and antisemitism
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.
Who we are
Dr. Pamela Paresky, Chair
Dr. Pamela Paresky is a psychologist, consultant and writer. As Visiting Senior Research Associate at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge (SIFK) at the University of Chicago, she focuses on experiential education, including “Habits of a Free Mind” courses and workshops. As Senior Scholar at the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) she researches online antisemitism and other forms of disinformation and extremism.
Dr. Misha Galperin
Dr. Misha Galperin is the President of Zandafi Philanthropy Advisors and CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He formerly served as CEO and president of Jewish Agency International Development and former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
Jonathan Greenberg serves as the Director of Freedom Initiatives at the Jack Miller Family Foundation. He is a former Midwest Political Director at AIPAC and was ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in 2006
Samantha Harris is a founding partner at Allen Harris PLLC, where she concentrates her practice in the areas of campus discipline, Title IX, and free speech. She advises students, faculty, administrators, and attorneys on issues of free speech and due process on campus.
Rebecca Roiphe is the Trustee Professor of Law and Co-Dean for Faculty Development at New York Law School. She teaches criminal law and ethics and writes about the importance of neutral legal institutions and principles to American democracy. Her opinion pieces on prosecution, legal ethics, and politics have appeared in Slate, the New York Review of Books Daily, Politico, and the Washington Post. She is a legal news contributor for CBS News and appears as an expert on MSNBC and CNN.
Dr. Brandy Shufutinsky
Dr. Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, writer, researcher, and advocate. She has worked towards advancing the rights of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through practice, education, and research, and is now focusing her advocacy on developing intercultural and academic opportunities to enhance liberal democratic ideals.
Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers
Dr. Christina Marie Hoff Sommers is an American author and philosopher. Specializing in ethics, she is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Sommers is known for her critique of contemporary feminism. Her work includes the books Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys.
Bret Stephens is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, editor, and columnist. He began working as an opinion columnist for The New York Times in April 2017 and as a senior contributor to NBC News in June 2017.
Rabbi David Wolpe
David J. Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple. Named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post.
A passionate advocate of the free expression of ideas, Bernstein is past President and CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs and former executive director of the David Project.
Policy and Legal Affairs
A cum laude graduate of Tulane University Law School. Levitt practices family law in Pennsylvania has a master’s degree in counseling & psychology from Chestnut Hill College and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
Marketing and Technology
An entrepreneurial executive who leads nonprofits by sourcing essential tools and executing highly effective marketing strategies.
Program and Operations
Richmond hosts the Hold My Drink Podcast: Navigating the news with a chaser of civility for Counterweight.
Dr. Monica Osborne
An author, professor, and expert in critical theory. Dr. Osborne heads up the Jewish Journal’s The Speech Project which discusses issues of free speech and brings resources to combat the growth of illiberalism.
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