I write to you just a few hours after our second annual Festival of Rights. Jews and our allies came together to celebrate our hard work, assert our shared vision, and affirm our commitment to realizing that vision. A few brief highlights:
Some of our most trusted partners lit the menorah. What an incredible privilege to offer the honor to friends whose leadership we have been blessed to follow this year. We were joined by friends from The Motor City Freedom Riders, The Ecology Center, and the People’s Water Board.
Hanukkah means “dedication” - it gives us an opportunity each year to rededicate ourselves to struggles for justice. Tonight, new and old leaders committed ourselves to stretching ourselves in the coming year -- to showing up for learning, for action, for play, and for the nitty-gritty.
TURN UP THE FLAME
After our menorah was lit, an anonymous donor let me know that she was so inspired by the evening that she was offering to match all new gifts to Detroit Jews for Justice that come in by the end of the year (12/31) on a 1:2 basis up to $5000. MIRACULOUSLY, $2000 in additional donations will become $3000! $4,000 will become $6000! AND $10,000 in new gifts between now and 12/31 will turn into $15,000 for DJJ! So if you have not yet made a gift this year to DJJ, PLEASE consider making one before the end of the year. If you have already made a gift to DJJ this year, thank you! Please consider getting an early start on next year's giving and make a donation today.
Watching a slideshow of our short history I felt amazed by how much we have been able to accomplish so far. The plans our leaders are developing for this coming year are ambitious. We ask for your voices, hearts, hands, and feet -- your money and your time. It is only with all of those things can Jews in Metro Detroit join the fight for racial and economic justice.
As we sang together:
Kol echad who or katan, v’kulanu or eitan -- Each of us is a small light, all of us are a great light.
Chag Urim Sameach -- Happy Festival of Lights,
Rabbi Alana Alpert
DJJ core leader, Lori Lutz, wrote an opinion for the Detroit Jews News a few days ago protesting the approval of strict voter identification bills in the Michigan House. Before the article went to print, the legislature decided not to take up the laws due to a massive public outcry and hundreds of calls and messages, including many from our DJJ network. So we are no longer printing Lori's piece in the DJN - but since it is brilliant and important, we wanted to offer it here. In this case, we are glad we did work for no reason! Yasher koach, Lori, and a good reminder to us all that when we raise our voices together, we can win.
On December 1, we hosted a forum with Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, to discuss what we can expect from the first 100 days of Trump's presidency. We were energized by the determination of the ACLU to fight any affront to civil rights that the administration might bring. We saw great potential in the huge turnout and the deep thinking and passion of participants. In her comments at the event, Rabbi Alana urged attendees to join any grassroots organization that is struggling against injustice - as that's the only way we can protect our communities and move our country forward. Check out the blurb and event photos below and visit Detroit Jewish News to read the rest of the article.Read more
If we asked you the current minimum wage in the state of Michigan, how confident would you be in your answer? On November 29th, we joined hundreds of protesters outside of a McDonalds on Detroit’s west side who know the answer all too well. That shit is $8.50.
Many of Detroit’s fast food and child care workers earn only the state’s required $8.50 an hour, hardly enough to support a family at a subsistence level. The D15 campaign seeks to raise the minimum wage for these workers to $15 an hour in the city of Detroit, joining related campaigns being waged in cities across the nation. As we stood outside chanting and marching we were struck by the incredible turnout and the diversity of the group which included union workers, fast food employees, child care providers, and of course DJJers. We believe the D15 campaign is going places and we want to be there when it does. In fact, we want to be everywhere. Whether it’s raising money for Standing Rock, canvassing for water rights, or Schlepping for Transit, November 8th was a clear signal that it’s time to put our Netflix habit on hold and fight the good fight every day and every night. The end.
DJJ Leaders, Allie Zeff and Gabe Slabosky
On Tuesday November 15, DJJ held its first general meeting since the election. I didn’t know what to expect. After casting my ballot on November 8th, I applied the “I voted” sticker to the top of my left shoe and walked home, kicking dried leaves and watching the orange sun sink into the horizon. By Wednesday morning the benign orange glow seemed to have particularized and settled like a synthetic and vaguely cancerous mist. It felt like the sun had cut Earth loose from the solar system, and deposited it at the nearest interstellar tanning salon.Read more
This Torah commentary was originally published in the Detroit Jewish News.
When God alerts him of plans to destroy the “sinful” cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pushes back. Our ancestor proclaims “Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? Far be it from you to do a thing like that!”. Famously, he negotiates God down: “what if there are 50 righteous people? 10?” I have always looked to this as the ultimate inspiration - our foundational example of speaking truth to power. My childhood rabbi Harold Schulweis (zt”l) called this chutzpah clappei shamayim - challenging the heavens.
I was recently startled by a Hasidic teaching that goes a step further....
In an article entitled, "What Next? Moving Forward After A Divisive Election," Rabbi Alana joined other Jewish leaders in discussing how we've processed the election results.
This is a guest post by DJJ'nik Harriet Saperstein.
Dear Friends, Members and Supporters of Detroit Jews for Justice:
Esther K. Shapiro, my good friend, and a “courageous crusader”, died comfortably at her Lafayette Park home in Detroit on October 14, 2016 at 98+ years. We are all safer consumers because of Esther. We are all better citizens because of Esther. We all have a more equal society because of Esther. Among her many positions, she was Director of Consumer Affairs in Detroit from 1974-1990, a Board member and official of many state and national consumer organizations, and an activist concerned with social justice throughout her long and well-lived life.Read more
Check out Hayley Sakwa's piece on Vote Yes for Regional Transit in the Detroit Free Press -- the last of five incredible pieces from DJJ leaders on this critical ballot measure. Among readers offering their perspective on the upcoming election, Hayley offers this thoughtful take:
"It has been obvious for months: the outcome of this election will have vast implications on the future of our country. Yet no matter who wins, policies of a newly elected president will fall flat in Metro Detroit unless we vote yes to pass the regional transit millage."
Visit the blog to read other pieces on transit written by the DJJ community.