When eJP launched back in 2007, we saw it as a place “to create dialogue and advance the conversation.” Since 2009, the phrase has appeared on every page of our website.” While not our elevator pitch, those seven words frame our worldview.
We have been fortunate that with a miniscule budget, advice from numerous social entrepreneurs and the corner offices of some of our largest and influential organizations, eJP has grown to become – in the words of the Forward just this week – “the main online publication supporting the Jewish professional world.” With that comes responsibility; both recognizing and owning it.
Which brings me to an article we published several days ago. Very little happens in a vacuum at eJP and neither did this.
Back in January, the editors of The American Jewish Year Book (AJYB) approached us with a content proposal. Following a great deal of back and forth we both felt our reader community could benefit from exposure to AJYB content. The 2019 edition was scheduled to be released in May (postponed to June due to the coronavirus pandemic). We decided to pursue two tracks beginning late Spring:
1. 2-3 essays built around data published in the 2019 edition.
2. Making available in digital form essays from the 2018 edition’s forum on contemporary American Jewry.
When “How Many Jews of Color Are There?” reached my inbox, it was immediately green-lighted for posting. Never did it cross my mind that any would consider the essay hurtful. Disagree with the premise, yes. Hurtful, no. If I did, it never would have seen the light of day. While we have in the past, and will continue in the future, to call out certain organizational bad behavior, we have never intentionally – and will never, while I’m making content decisions, publish anything that any part of our community would consider hurtful. eJP as a publication, and myself personally are in full support of initiatives supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. And fully support the JoCs in our community.
I have read the comments on the post, read several Facebook threads on the essay, and engaged in email conversations with others. I hear you and am deeply sorry for any hurt caused anyone. I have already privately apologized to Ilana Kaufman, Executive Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, and here apologize to anyone who was hurt by the essay’s publication.
Recognizing that some might consider the words ’empty,’ I commit going forward to using eJP‘s platform to assist our JoC community raise their profile and publicly address their wider concerns. I will engage members of the JoC community to explore how we can best accomplish this.
I referred above to the 2018 edition’s forum on contemporary American Jewry and our plan to make essays available. This is both the appropriate place and time to indicate that Steven M. Cohen was a forum participant. The AJYB editors called this to my attention in their initial proposal. We informed them immediately we would not be receptive to publishing his contribution. We feel it is the only decision we can make.
Dan Brown is the founder of eJewish Philanthropy.
The opinions expressed above are his alone and should not be regarded as statements of the views of other eJewish Philanthropy contributors, advisors or funders.