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Pursuing Tzedek: D.C. Synagogues Building Movements for Social Justice Open Access Deposited

Throughout American history, Jews have responded to a historical and ethical mandate to pursue social justice. Nevertheless, the specific ways in which synagogue leaders organize for social change remains unclear. This research addresses the following question: How are Jewish institutions in D.C. building movements for inclusive, equitable, and impactful social justice work? Findings derive from analysis of six interviews and two focus groups at three synagogues in Washington, D.C. Whereas some participants preferred to engage in incremental changemaking and hands-on service, others concentrated on building collective power to alter the status quo. In addition, while a consensus existed that responsive, egalitarian relationships prove essential for this work, participants disagreed about how to address issues related to politics, Israel, and race. As this research offers an in-depth understanding of the strengths and challenges among Jewish organizers in D.C., the insights may be used to inform the effective deployment of resources toward the long-standing priority of social justice.

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