Rabbi Alana's remarks from the first ever Myra Wolfgang Awards

I want to begin by sharing with you a question that has been keeping me up at night for weeks:  how is it possible that the 1st ever Wolfgang Awards was scheduled one week before the High Holidays?!

Seriously though, it actually feels totally meant to be this year. On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the birthday of the world. We imagine a time when everything we know to be real was just possibility. We imagine a time when a decision was made to make order out of chaos -- to create something new. Another question that keeps me up at night is: when Andy, Mary Ellen and I decided to create a new organization, what on earth were we thinking?

Of course, DJJ was not created from nothing. The energy was there -- we just seized it, and you all have been shaping that energy into a force. We’re so proud of what we’ve been able to do in such a short time. With your support, we’ve built a solid reputation, created 3 jobs, facilitated nearly a dozen internships, mobilized a rapidly growing intergenerational community around shared values, and dove deeper into our critical campaign work. We’ve organized together for water and housing justice, and for the rights of workers and immigrants - we’ve challenged Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism, and this year in particular, the rising tide of anti-Semitism. 

This season, the month of Elul, invites us to do a soul accounting, Heshbon nefesh -- Who do we want to be in the coming year? Individually and collectively? How can we combine our time, talent, and treasure with others to create a more just Detroit, a healthier Michigan, an honest country, a liberated world? We are asked: ayekha? Where are you? We answer: Hineni - Here I am. When I ask where are you, ayekha, i need to hear you say hineni. [REPEAT]

As organizers, it’s our job to ask you to show up, as leaders its your job to let us know how you can do that. We know that you are all involved in a million amazing organizations and communities. We aren’t asking you to show up any less for them, but we do want to know how you’re down to learn, grow, and trouble-make with us. Ayekha: how do you want to show up for DJJ in the coming months? 

I want to close with the words of my Colleague Audrey Sasson at Jew for Racial and Economic Justice in NYC: “We believe that Jews have a vital role to play in the struggle for justice – for ourselves and for all people. We believe that there is no justice just for Jews just as there is no justice that erases us. And so we believe in showing up in the work, proudly as Jews, and always in partnership with other communities yearning for the same thing – genuine pluralism and small d democracy, where our multitude is our strength, and where shared power and prosperity for all people is our goal.”

A few days ago we cut our monthly meeting short to bring apples & honey to the UAW strikers to wish them a sweet new year and a sweet new contract. We’ll close with that blessing: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech Haolam, she’Techadesh Aleynu Shanah Tovah u’Metuka -- Blessed is the Source of Life who renews for us a good and sweet new year!


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