Born/Date of Birth: March 25, 1984
Place of Birth: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Education: Columbia University (2007), Shady Side Academy
Employer: The Wall Street Journal (2013–2017)
The New York Times (2017–2020)
Spouse(s): Jason Kass(m. 2013; div. 2016)
Siblings: Suzy Lee Weiss
Parents: Lou Weiss, Amy Weiss
Bari Weiss (born March 25, 1984) is an American opinion writer and editor. From 2013 until 2017 she was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal. From 2017 to 2020, Weiss was an op-ed staff editor and writer about culture and politics at The New York Times.
Early life and education
Bari Weiss was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Lou (a carpet salesman) and Amy Weiss (a department store makeup buyer). She grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, and graduated from Pittsburgh's Community Day School and Shady Side Academy. The eldest of four sisters, she attended the Tree of Life Synagogue and had her bat mitzvah ceremony there. After high school, Weiss went to Israel on a Nativ gap year program, helping build a medical clinic for Bedouin in the Negev desert, and studying at a feminist yeshiva and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Weiss is a 2007 graduate of Columbia University with a major in history. As a student, she co-founded Columbians for Academic Freedom, which in 2005 said that professors were intimidating students who expressed pro-Israel sentiments that the professors disagreed with in classroom discussions. Weiss said that she felt intimidated by Joseph Massad, a professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, in a class. A committee at Columbia charged with investigating these claims found "credible" one intimidation accusation against Professor Massad, though added it found "no evidence of any statements made by the faculty that could reasonably be construed as anti-Semitic." In her 2019 book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Weiss describes this contentious period of advocacy as giving her "a front row seat to leftist anti-Semitism" at the university.:94
While at Columbia, Weiss also founded The Current, a journal of contemporary politics, culture, and Jewish affairs, and the Columbia Coalition for Sudan in response to the war in Darfur. Following graduation, Weiss was a Wall Street Journal Bartley Fellow in 2007, and a Dorot Fellow from 2007 to 2008 in Jerusalem.
In 2007, Weiss worked for Haaretz and The Forward. In Haaretz, she wrote in support of an effort to have Barnard College deny tenure to the anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj over a controversial book examining Israeli archaeology. From 2011 to 2013, Weiss was senior news and politics editor at Tablet.
2013–2017: The Wall Street Journal
She was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal from 2013 until April 2017. She left following the departure of Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy editor Bret Stephens, for whom she had worked, and joined him at The New York Times.
2017–2020: The New York Times
In 2017, as part of an effort by The New York Times to broaden the ideological range of its opinion staff after the inauguration of President Trump, the paper hired Weiss as an op-ed staff editor and writer about culture and politics. Through her first year at the paper, she wrote opinion pieces advocating for the blending of cultural influences, something derided by what she termed the "strident left" as cultural appropriation and criticizing the founders of the Women's March for anti-semitism. Her article about the Chicago Dyke March, which claimed that intersectionality is a "caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history," was condemned by playwright Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues.
On June 7, 2020, the Times editorial page editor, James Bennet, resigned after more than 1,000 staffers signed a letter protesting his publication of an op-ed by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton saying that since "rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy," soldiers should be sent as backup for the police to end the violence, which Bennet admitted he had not read. Weiss characterized the internal controversy as an ongoing "civil war" between what she called young "social justice warriors" and what she identified as older, "free speech advocate," staffers. This was disputed by some other journalists and opinion-writers at the Times."
2020: Resignation from The New York Times
Weiss announced her departure from The New York Times on July 14, 2020, publishing a resignation letter on her website in which she criticized the Times for capitulating to criticism on Twitter, and for not supporting her when she was bullied by her colleagues. Weiss's letter accused her former employer of "unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge."
In her letter Weiss said, "Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions." She also wrote, "Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times, but Twitter has become its ultimate editor."
Her letter was praised by a diverse group of public figures from the political spectrum including Donald Trump Jr., political commentator Ben Shapiro, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Kelly Loeffler, and former Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson, as well as political commentator Bill Maher.
Bari Weiss describes herself as a "left-leaning centrist." According to The Washington Post, Weiss "portrays herself as a liberal uncomfortable with the excesses of left-wing culture," and has sought to "position herself as a reasonable liberal concerned that far-left critiques stifled free speech." Vanity Fair has described Weiss as being "a provocateur", and a "liberal humanist". The Jewish Telegraphic Agency said that her writing "doesn't lend itself easily to labels." Weiss has also been described as conservative by Haaretz, The Times of Israel, The Daily Dot, and Business Insider.
Weiss has expressed support for Israel and Zionism in her columns. When writer Andrew Sullivan described her as an "unhinged Zionist", she responded saying she "happily plead[s] guilty as charged." Appearing on MSNBC in 2018, Weiss pondered whether the sexual assault allegations against associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a teenager disqualified him as an adult from a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. After backlash in the press, Weiss conceded that her sound bite was glib and simplistic, and said instead that Kavanaugh's rage-filled behavior before the Senate Judiciary Committee should have disqualified him. Also in 2018, she criticized the #MeToo Movement.
Following the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Weiss was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher in early November 2018. She said of American Jews who support President Donald Trump: "I hope this week that American Jews have woken up to the price of that bargain: They have traded policies that they like for the values that have sustained the Jewish people—and frankly, this country—forever: Welcoming the stranger; dignity for all human beings; equality under the law; respect for dissent; love of truth". In 2019, The Jerusalem Post listed Weiss as one of the world's 50 most influential Jews.
While attending Columbia University, she dated future Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon. From 2013 to 2016, Weiss was married to environmental engineer Jason Kass, the founder of Toilets for People, a company designing and manufacturing waterless self-contained composting toilets.
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