Online Exclusives: Justice in the City

The online exclusives below are freely accessible articles associated with Tikkun’s Winter 2013 special section on “Justice in the City” — Click on the titles below to read these articles. In addition, don’t miss the print issue’s eight subscriber-only articles on this topic, including Aryeh Cohen’s piece, which started this interfaith discussion: subscribe now to read them on the web (explore the table of contents) or order a single copy in the mail.

Overcoming the Sexual and Religious Legacies of Slavery

Because of the U.S. history of slavery, assumptions about the sexuality of African American women in the United States differ from those made about European American women. The sexual stereotype of enslaved women as licentious extends far back into history; modern racism extended it to all Black women and also used the myth of Black hypersexuality as a reason to enslave Black people.

Co-ops: A Good Alternative?

Historically, the co-op model has offered a workplace theory far superior to capitalism. Not driven by the profit motive, co-ops ought to be worker-empowering, democratic, healthier, less expensive, and more responsive to employee and community needs— valuable traits during this period of capitalist meltdown.

How Do We Get Money Out of Politics?

Michael Lerner’s editorial is too critical of the Move to Amend Movement, when what is needed is strong support for it, while recognizing its limitations. In some circumstances a reform effort can be very close to a full embracing of the ideals.

Introduction to the Justice in the City Section

Geographical Borders and the Ethical and Political Boundaries of Responsibility

What would happen if we took seriously the biblical idea that we are responsible for the well-being of everyone who has passed through our city, even if only momentarily? In our me-first society—structured as it is by the capitalist imperative to “look out for number one”—our notion of responsibility for others is painfully limited. In the pages that follow, Aryeh Cohen envisions a new social justice ethos rooted in Rabbinic Judaism’s idea of accompaniment—the idea that we must personally care for all the people who enter our shared, common space. And we are delighted to print responses and critiques from a variety of thinkers and activists. This discussion implicitly challenges legal philosopher John Rawls’s conception of “justice as fairness” by introducing into Western legal thought the notion of justice as caring for other human beings.

An Alphabet

Air, element we take inside and send back altered,
Be lucid: show us the swift’s passage in twilight, the earliest stars;
Calm the undervoice that yammers what is the point? Dishevel our hair, carry away our hats and umbrellas. Even as you build clouds taller than mountains,
Favor us with the lightning’s power, the fog’s invisibility cloak. Grant us this breath and another, grant us tomorrow. Hold us closely, lest we fly apart as we would in space;
Incline your full weight so that we feel you hold us
Just as you hold the dew before nightfall, the cloud before rain;
Kiss us as we wish a lover to kiss us, without forethought or purpose.

Morning Blessings

For Rabbi Burt Jacobson

Blessed is the dog’s tongue
Shamanic prayer flag
Binder of vapor
Harbinger of light’s arrival. Blessed is the brain stem
That battled entropy
All night on my behalf. Blessed are my nether, pleasure parts
That double as effluent outlets. Blessed are you, Ya, granter of civility,
In whose name the trash trucks
Are held in abeyance until the sunlight
Girds the plum trees. Blessed are the medicines,
Polyglot organic molecules,
That soothe or jumpstart
My various organs, that find
My son at sea and return him
Safely to port.

Get Money Out of Politics

Why should we be surprised if tens of millions of potential voters do not show up at polls? They’ve already seen that it is not they but the rich who will shape the ideas of candidates in both major political parties. It’s not that donors get absolute power to shape the votes and policies of each elected official, but that together as a group those donors shape a universe of discourse about what is plausible in politics and what is “realistic”; within that framework, politicians make choices that may at times offend one section of their donor base in order to please another section.

Trauma as a Potential Source of Solidarity

Every city has its neglected corners, filled with people who need much more than a spontaneous moment of generosity and the handing out of some spare quarters. Like Cohen, I believe that we must witness the experience of the Other and “assimilate Other into same”—to actually identify aspects of ourselves in those we might normally ignore or disdain.