There are thousands of Jewish organizations, publications, and web sites. Here are just a few that matter to me.
The marvelous website of Gil Mann, author of How to Get More Out of Being Jewish Even If: A. You are not sure you believe in God; B. You think going to synagogue is a waste of time; C. You think keeping kosher is stupid; D. You hated Hebrew School, or E. All of the above! This book (free for download) made Gil’s site a focal point for the life stories, opinions, and yearnings of all who want to be Jewish but feel marginalized and confused. His second book, Sex, God, Christmas, & Jews, collected many of their stories.
Someone Must Survive to Tell the World
I wrote the foreword to this exceptionally direct and moving Holocaust memoir by Tosia Szechter Schneider. Seventeen at the end of the war, she was old enough to understand the full meaning of the horror, yet is young enough to be today a vibrant “young” woman in her prime, sharing her memories with two more generations. The book is as valuable an account of a near-idyllic Jewish-Polish childhood as it is a witness to what came next.
Deborah Lipstadt’s Blog
Deborah Lipstadt, the distinguished historian of the Holocaust (and the arch-enemy of Holocaust-deniers) publishes a lively and informative blog about her adventures in the fight to preserve memory and dignity–not to mention battling anti-Semitism. She is also one of the best-loved teachers at Emory University. Read more about her on her web page, and see her acclaimed books at Amazon.com.
National Yiddish Book Center
More than the world’s greatest repository of Yiddish books (check your attic for possible donations), the Center is a beautiful living organism that cherishes, breathes, and studies Yiddish–the ancestral language of most Jews alive today–combating the myth that it is dying and actively passing it on to a new generation. A celebration of Yiddish in conversation, scholarship, fiction, poetry, and song.
The American Jewish Committee
Founded in 1906 to protect Russian Jews, the AJC believes that one of the best ways to protect Jews anywhere is to work toward a world in which all minorities are treated with respect. Their view of this is very close to mine, a needed counterweight to the purely parochial nature of many Jewish organizations and causes.
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
This unique organization identifies and supports non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, often at enormous risk to themselves, and who today are elderly people in need. JFR sends monthly support to 1,400 of them and through its educational programs spreads the word about these exceptional people who, while rescuing Jews, also rescued our faith in human goodness.
The Wexner Foundation
The brainchild of Leslie Wexner and Rabbi Herbert Friedman, The Wexner Foundation recruits leaders of religious and secular Jewish thought to prepare religious, professional, and outstanding lay community members for future leadership. They have had a huge impact on the Jewish knowledge and heritage of thousands of adults, including me.
The quintessential public guardian against ant-Semitism, ADL is vigilant without being hypervigilant or “crying wolf” where there is no real danger. Led for many years by Holocaust survivor Abe Foxman, it is staffed by a wide variety of other smart and experienced Jewish professionals who combat threats to Jews throughout the world.
World Jewish Congress
With the motto “All Jews are responsible for each other,” WJC tracks the news of Jewish communities small and large in every corner of the world, and intervenes when they need protecting. Every time I am feeling smug about my knowledge of all the varieties of Judaism and Jewishness on the planet, I read their little monthly newsletter and learn something new and important.
The Jerusalem Report
An essential publication for me since its inception, this biweekly newsmagazine modeled on Time and Newsweek ranges widely and incisively over Israel and the wider Jewish world. I find it more eclectic and balanced politically than its parent newspaper The Jerusalem Post, though probably more centrist than Ha’aretz, often called the New York Times of Israel.