Liliya Milosavljevic

Are Jewish Organizations Actually Doing Enough?

Vegetables available at Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés via Unsplash
Vegetables available at Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés via Unsplash

Look, we’re at the point where we honor a celebrity saying the bare minimum (“Hi, Israel”) while others work themselves into a tantrum for acknowledging Israel’s existence. We’re not a hard people to please, at this point.

And yet, it far-too-often feels like Jewish influencers, Jewish advocacy organizations, and those in Jewish spaces are only superficially here for us while growing their own following on social media.

Is slacktivism diminishing the overall impact of Jewish advocacy efforts, or opening new opportunities for those to find their voices?

As an animal lover, I’m particularly drawn to organizations that advocate for animal welfare without looking down upon us from an ivory tower and condemning those at different stages of learning, growing, and journeying to veganism.

Activism should never be about making those who aren’t yet at your stage of the process feel bad for what they don’t know. That’s not activism; that’s hatred disguised as wokeness.

Therefore: immediately throw out useless organizations like Mercy For Animals and their ever-toxic work culture that overlooks BIPOC and Jewish voices and alienates vegans from any kind of healthy and productive conversation.

Cheers to The Humane League, who at least occasionally shouts out Jewish-owned businesses and offers Jewish recipes. Sometimes. (See, we really do celebrate the bare minimum, these days.)

The unequivocal winner, however, is Jewish Initiative for Animals, who deftly manage to defend animals, educate Jewish and nonsecular communities alike, all without condemning Jews for lifestyle choices.

That last part is extremely important.

As we know, there is an abundance of holy text to justify compassion for animals in the Jewish religion. And as we also know, the very topic of veganism immediately divides communities. But Jewish Initiative for Animals responsibly educates, all while avoiding the far-too-tempting urge to judge Jewish people for deep-seated ideals that eating animals and religious observance must go hand-in-hand.

Will one measly article change your mind to stop eating animals and making trolling comments? Of course not. But will change occur with open conversations with progressive minds who aren’t dead-set on judging you for your lifestyle choices and accept you for wherever you are in your journey and education?

You bet. And for that, I’m very happy to have learned of JIFA’s educational initiatives and their nonjudgmental approach.

Dr. Liliya Milosavljevic has no affiliation, monetary or otherwise, with any of the organizations named in this story.

About the Author
Dr. Liliya Milosavljevic is a proud Jewish immigrant who resides in New York City and can often be found noshing on vegan Jewish staples.
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