Allie Zeff

Since moving here 2 years ago with big dreams of serving the students of Detroit, I have felt a lot.    

From fear in being placed in my first teaching job with virtually no network, to hopelessness when I quickly realized that the depth of my students’ needs were far beyond my scope of understanding, to extreme anxiety as I flailed through my transition into adulthood with no community to ground me.  

Year one was a tough-y. It was filled with tearful phone calls to my mom, guilt, and a pervasive feeling of paralysis. When I received a long, down, purple coat for my birthday, I cried. How could I accept this generous gift when I wasn’t sure that my students were always sleeping indoors? How is it fair that my kiddos wear hoodies to school in freezing weather, and I have this fancy coat? Some of them don’t have running water, some of them are hungry at home, almost all of them have been failed by their schooling in some regard, they’re all breathing in poor quality air, and I’m going to walk into school wearing this warm, undoubtedly expensive coat. It felt like my life was riddled with internal struggles like this one. 

The sheer volume of barriers faced by my students and their families was absolutely overwhelming to me. I thought that by moving here, teaching them music, and getting to be a stable adult in their lives would be enough. But mostly, it felt like nothing.  

When I started organizing with Detroit Jews for Justice, I felt like I found my people. For the first time since graduation, I felt seen and understood by people other than the people I lived with. I found a group of individuals who were also seeing the grave inequities that made me feel fear, anger, and guilt. The big difference was that they were doing something about it, and they empowered me to join them.  

Since I have been a part of DJJ, we have organized in campaigns around regional transit, paid sick time for michigan workers, the environmental racism of the trash incinerator, education, raising the minimum wage, the tax foreclosure crisis, water shutoffs, water affordability, and so much more. DJJ pulled me out of paralysis, and gave me a place to bring my whole self to this fight. I am so proud to call myself a DJJ Leader.

As my birthday approaches (December 31st) I have decided that I really don’t need any gifts. I have my big warm coat, a wonderful community to call my home, as well as beautiful friends and loved ones. What I really want from you is to invest in the amazing work that DJJ is doing. My greatest wish for 2018 and beyond is to see this organization grow and thrive. To do that, we need your help. Please consider a donation toward my goal of $500 to sustain the work for racial and economic justice that desperately needs to be done in Detroit. Thank you! 


Allie is a Festival of Rights co-chair, art leader, and music teacher.
$893.00 raised
GOAL: $500.00
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