Occupy Judaism: Religion, Digital Media, and the Public Sphere
Abstract

This article provides an analysis of Occupy Judaism, an explicitly religious expression of Jewish protest, which occurred simultaneously with Occupy Wall Street, the direct-democracy movement of 2011. Occupy Judaism, like Occupy Wall Street, took place both in physical spaces of protest in New York City and digitally, through mobilizing and circulating debate. The article focuses on the words and actions of Daniel Sieradski, the public face and one of the key founders of Occupy Judaism, supplemented by the experiences of others in Occupy Judaism, Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Faith (a Protestant clergy-led initiative). We investigate what qualified as religion in the public sphere of Occupy Wall Street, the implications of activities that blurred the lines between religious and secular in the context of public protest, and the relationship of these place-based activities to digital practice. The article emphasizes the importance of ethnographically investigating both physical protest and digital debate, which in this case created the potential for Jewish leftist religion to occupy a new space in the public sphere for a short time in 2011. Attention to the mediation of religion in the public sphere has implications for rethinking what constitutes the political, the religious, and the secular, as well as how digital practices may be implicated in debates over these terms.


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