MissionActionsPress/InterviewsMailing List
Facebook Twitter


  1. Eshet Chayil
  2. Critique Responsibly
  3. Bring Your Brains to the Ballot
  4. Shavuot 5768
  5. Sukkot 5768
  6. Rosh Hashana 5768
  7. Make a Buzz
  8. The Conservative Movement: Facing the Future with Two Faces?
  9. We Are the Jewish Vote
  10. First Annual Greasy Latke Awards
  11. Rosh Hashana 5764
  12. JewishSpeak
  13. Strange Bedfellows
  14. Way Too Much
  15. MAJOR
  16. Rosh Hashana 5762
  17. Rosh Hashana 5761
  18. Purim 5760
  19. JCRC Protest
  20. Rosh Hashana 5760
  21. Press Releases

ACTIONS » Sukkot 5768

main project - press release (html - pdf) - in the press

Embrace the Treyf - In the Press

"Treyfing" Sukkot?
Jewish Women's Archive Blog
September 26, 2007

Sukkot is my favorite Jewish holiday. I like a good harvest bounty; I like that I can share meals with friends not in my kitchen; I like that I can eat while meditating on stars peeking through a canopy of colorful paper chains, laquered gourds, and chili pepper lights (which always adorned my family's sukkah). In preparation for Sukkot (just a few hours away!), I've been thinking about other, more provocative, sukkah decor that might be inside the sukkot in which I eat.

Jewish Women Watching (JWW), the anonymous activist collective that aims to rouse the public to challenge discriminatory practices in the American Jewish community, has infused Sukkot with something of a dare. They've introduced a Sukkot campaign called "Embrace the Treyf" that strikes me as both appropriately insightful and incite-full. Writers for Jewschool, Jewess, and JSpot have all been musing about JWW's somewhat inflammatory "Embrace the Treyf" postcards, each of which juxtaposes a social justice issue considered "kosher" in the organized Jewish community with one that is considered "treyf." One postcard reads:

"Kosher: Fighting Anti-Semitism | Treyf: Fighting racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. EMBRACE THE TREYF."

Other cards juxtapose confronting human rights abuses against Darfurians with confronting human rights abuses against Palestinians; building houses in New Orleans on Spring Break with building a movement against gentrification in our own cities. You can probably guess which of these actions were assigned to the Kosher category and which were assigned to Treyf.

I like this campaign. I like that these juxtapositions present a sharp challenge to the organized Jewish community--boldly, cleverly, and succinctly--and boost the harvest festival with a charge to act. I like that they spark conversation; that they make people--myself included--feel a bit uncomfortable and call our own commitments into question. And I'm in full agreement that the Jewish establishment could use some shaking up in addition to a shift in priorities. But the Kosher-Treyf dichotomy doesn't sit so well with me. For one thing, I do know many Jews who are more heavily invested in JWW's "Treyf" causes than their "Kosher" causes, and who do, in fact, consider themselves belonging to the Jewish community. I don't know if they'd appreciate their efforts reduced to "Treyf" even if it's "embraced." Though I understand how this "Treyfness" is framed and to whom it's directed, I don't actually know how constructive it is, or how compelled Jewish leaders will be to commit themselves to "Treyf" responsibilities. Might there be a more constructive, and perhaps less finger-pointing way of encouraging Jews to self-reflect and have a more inclusive social justice ethic, than what the Kosher-Treyf binary offers us? As Mik Moore wrote on JSpot: "let's embrace the treyf. And then, let's kasher it."