Jews With Views

The idea of Jews as political radicals is an easy reach for me: My Jewish leftist folks, after all, stumped for Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party in the ’40s, and my father, an accountant who did books for the Mine Mill Union, among others, cast votes for the Socialist Workers Party more than a few times as I was growing up. But many of today’s college students don’t quite grok the idea of the fist-in-the-air radicalism that bloomed in the ’60s, with its long-tentacled roots in earlier decades.

So in a way, MoVeRs: Jewish Mavericks, Visionaries and Rebels, a year-long series of events being rolled out today by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies, is as secular a history lesson as it socio-political-religious. It’s just that so many of my wild-eyed forebears carried the radical torch.

The series launches tonight with "Smashing the Idols," a throwback to the campus teach-ins of the ’60s, featuring a progressive panel of non-conforming rabbis and Jewish individualists who will take off from the biblical tale of Abraham smashing the idols and apply the inherent idea of rebellion to present times. “We’re looking at figures in Jewish history who were considered movers or radicals in their time,” notes spokeswoman Jamie Polliard. “And also, people like Elissa Barrett [of the Progressive Jewish Alliance in Los Angeles] and Orly Halpern [a Jewish-American war correspondent in Iraq] were invited to inspire modern-day concepts of pushing the envelope.”

Hear the panel at 7 p.m. in room 235 of the University Memorial Center; admission is free, but reservations are recommended. Future events include a talk on “Jews and Soccer,” a screening of Refusenik, and presentations on fifteenth-century Jewish swashbucklers, contemporary Jewish artists and more; for information, visit
Thu., Oct. 22, 7 p.m., 2009