It feels pretty special, blessedly so, to be able to do my first in-person talk and schmooze with others about an anthology that I started curating in the “before” times, which “routinely” included lots of book events at many beautiful spots, and finished in the early hellish pandemic days, and was birthed into print as the pandemic began to shift into another “new normal” part of the fascist social fabric. Like so many of us, I’ve been profoundly separated from so much I love these past 2.5+ years, including the delight of bringing the books I do—as labors of love—into the world among others.
But Jewishness, and especially queer anarchist Jewishness, is used to inhabiting liminal spaces, spaces of betweenness. Twilight is the par excellent moment—ecological and one could say trans or nonbinary sacred—that eases us into new months and new years, rituals and holidays, grief and transition. We also have millennia-long experience with separations, both traumatic and joyous, both forced on us and self-determined, whether in diasporic motion or through the separation between Shabbat (25 hours a week of dwelling in the world to come, as ongoing dress rehearsals of sorts) and havdallah, when we move out of the sacred into the mundane until the next Shabbos.
That ancestral legacy offers a palpable resilience, or perhaps fierce fighting spirit to survive, with many contemporary Jewish anarchists feeling affinity for the refrain sung by a village of Jews many moons ago as they were about to be slaughtered by Nazis: “we will outlive them.”
At many points in this binary, brutal pandemic time of “masked” vs “unmasked,” mutual aid vs abandonment, I didn’t know that I would outlive it. The same may be true for you. Many folks we love didn’t outlive it. And that feels so much truer for so many of us in the days ahead, as fascism increasingly acts out and acts on its transphobia, misogyny, antisemitism, racism …
My Jewish anarchism teaches me so much, crucially right now that joy and sorrow are always intertwined, and that it is our task not to complete the aim of mending the world, but not desist from it either.
💖🖤 to Scott Branson for setting up this event!
Mending the World as Jewish Anarchists
Using the anthology “There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart” as a jumping-off point, editor/writer Cindy Barukh Milstein will sketch a picture of contemporary Jewish anarchism and then facilitate a conversation. Today’s Jewish anarchists pull from ancestral wisdom, within Judaism/Jewishness and millennia of diasporic rituals and communities (without states). Yet they are also remaking Jewish anarchism, especially via anarcha-feminist and queer+trans practices—cultural, political, and spiritual—building bridges from bittersweet grief to rebellion and joy. Milstein will touch on ways that Jewish anarchism is being utilized in organizing and movements as a weapon against, to name a few, colonialism, capitalism, fascism, and ecocide. Yet they’ll also explore what it means to embrace Jewish anarchism as the ground for communal solidarities that sustain and “mend” us while cultivating visionary forms of liberation—and life—all with the aim of getting better and better at living “the world to come” in the here and now. Whether you’re Jewish or not, an anarchist or not (yet), come share in reflecting on the promise of Jewish anarchism.
Notes: At Oberlin on Friday just before Shabbat begins. To embody our collective care, masks are required at this event—with N95s and KN95s strongly recommended—and we urge everyone to rapid test before coming, and don’t come if sick or COVID positive. There will also be copies of the anthology and other books by Milstein for sale, at a sliding scale (cash or PayPal). Lastly, Milstein encourages everyone to bring along a small offering/memento to place on a temporary grief altar.
#AnarchismOrFascism #WeMustOutliveThem #MourningOurDead #MendingTheWorld #TryAnarchismForLife #TryJewishAnarchismForLife