Ruth Atkin, Elly Bulkin, Rita Falbel, Adrienne Rich, and I decided to create BRIDGES in the late 1980s, buoyed by our feminist work in and our excited imagining of progressive coalitional politics in America. All over the U.S., people who had strongly identified with the concerns of a particular sexual, religious, or national group were trying to form a rainbow political movement. BRIDGES was to be a specifically Jewish voice among feminists, a feminist forum for progressive Jews, and a Jewish feminist participant in a progressive movement. It brought together all of my activism up to that point and, as I’ve served as its managing editor for the past 15 years (and continue in that capacity today), the journal has also shaped just about all of my subsequent work.
In the first issue, in 1990, we wrote, “Our journal emerges from the U.S. during an extended wave of political conservatism, a decline in standard of living and quality of life, and erosion of civil liberties, especially for people of color and women.” After the 2004 elections, I think we were both right on target with our focus on the meaning of the “wave of political conservatism,” and yet we were also naive about the Right’s strength and ruthlessness.
As I write this in the fall of 2004, many of us have come to think that a journal “for” Jewish feminists and those who support us places the emphasis in the wrong place. The literature and essays in BRIDGES, informed by feminist and Jewish perspectives, are for everyone who wants to improve humanity’s conditions. At the same time, many progressive feminists are disappointed with where identity politics have led – not to powerful coalitions, but to divisive provinces. Yet I am still inspired by the visions we composed more than 15 years ago. “Identity politics” did not further divide us: recognizing how separated Americans are from one another is a strength; gaining deeper understanding of different communities’ issues and perspectives is also strengthening. We should not be dissuaded from seeking specifically Jewish and feminist perspectives on the most pressing issues of our time, just as we recognize how urgently Jews need to listen to others whose perspectives are influenced by their own histories and communal dynamics.
Clare Kinberg has been Managing Editor of BRIDGES: A Jewish Feminist Journal since its founding in 1989. She was on the founding board of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom: Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace and has written several articles on organizing for Israeli/Palestinian peace and Jewish feminism. She lives in Ann Arbor, MI with her partner and their two daughters, ages four and seven.
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