Feb 26, 2010

PJA Responds to SF Federation's New Policy

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Progressive Jewish Alliance Addresses
"JCF Policy on Israel-Related Programming for its Grantees"

On February 18, 2010, the San Francisco Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (JCF) released a policy and set of guidelines, which are intended to address the controversy that arose from the screening of the documentary "Rachel" at the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.  While we applaud JCF's attempt to craft a policy that allows for "the rich exchange and expression that defines us as a community," we have grave concerns that the announced rules may undermine that very goal -- may, in fact, censor or chill an open exchange of ideas. 
We are particularly fearful of the effect these rules may have on a younger generation of Jews who are grappling with their Jewish identity, their relationship to Israel and their place in the larger community, precisely by engaging in the time-honored Jewish tradition of questioning.  Young people are our future.  They possess a strong moral compass, the discernment to question the world around them and a hunger for knowledge.  PJA calls on Jews of all generations to live up to the name Israel: meaning one who wrestles with God.  In so doing, we continue an age-old practice of debate evident on every page of Talmud and at the heart of the vigorous and messy experiment that is democracy -- here and in Israel.
Because it is the mission of the Progressive Jewish Alliance to engage Jews of diverse backgrounds to learn, lead and act in our communities to create a more just and equal society, we seek to amplify the impact of our work by forging alliances with many partners within the Jewish community and beyond.  We do not always agree with these partners on all issues, but we do endeavor to respect their opinions and, above all, value our shared commitment to comfort the afflicted.  In this spirit, we welcome an ongoing open and honest dialogue with our partners and friends at JCF and with the community at large.
If you have thoughts about the JCF policy that you want to share with PJA, write to us at bayarea@pjalliance.org.