Allison Zeff

Allie Zeff

Allie is DJJ's Grassroots Fundraising chair, art leader, and an amazing music teacher.

As this holiday season approaches and I reflect on the last 3 years of my life in Detroit, I am feeling more grateful than ever for the community I have built here.  In the transition from college life to my “real” life I am truly proud of what I have accomplished. These days, when I’m not singing songs and banging drums with kids in Dearborn, I’m strategizing about how to change the culture of DJJ to one of giving and getting, or I’m roller skating with women I admire and respect, or I’m cuddling with the newest addition to my family, lil’ Aaron: the sweetest dog in the continental United States.  I’m pretty much feeling like the luckiest person ever, and continually fortifying myself in loving community with folks who want what I want: a more just Detroit, clean and affordable water for all people, a seat at the table for the Jewish community, an end to unjust foreclosures, a better future for the next generation, and place to lovingly resist. Detroit Jews for Justice has created that space for me. This year, I am taking it upon myself to express my gratitude.

Will you contribute to my goal of $500 to the work that DJJ is doing?  This year, I don’t need a Hannukah gift, a Christmas gift, or even a birthday gift! (December 31st!)  All I really want is for you to give whatever you can to sustain the organization that sustains me.

Allison Zeff's latest activity
wants to volunteer 2024-05-22 11:37:51 -0400

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DJJ Community, 

I hope that you are tending to yourselves and your loved ones as best you can. For me, these past months have been filled with grief, fatigue and despair. I have struggled to stay grounded in our work while our community processes continuous heartbreak at home and abroad. This video, highlighting why DJJ was founded and why our work matters was a timely, needed reminder.

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published Honoring Our Friend, Sam Woll in Blog 2023-10-24 09:21:54 -0400

Honoring Our Friend, Sam Woll

Like so many, we at DJJ are devastated by the loss of Samantha Woll (z”l).

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Q&A with Allie Zeff: Nonprofit Journal Project

Detroit Jews for Justice was founded in 2016 with the mission to organize the Jewish community in Metro Detroit to participate in movements for racial and economic justice. Allie Zeff has been the executive director of the organization since early 2022, previously holding roles as an organizer and a volunteer. 

What was the impetus behind Detroit Jews for Justice? Why did it form? 

In 2015, after the murder of Mike Brown and the subsequent national uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, a call went out to the metro Detroit Jewish community to gather at the menorah lighting that takes place at Campus Martius every year, and to say Kaddish, which is the Jewish prayer of mourning, for Black lives that had been lost to police violence. That call went out and 70 metro Detroit Jews showed up at Campus Martius to declare in one voice that it is a Jewish value that Black Lives Matter. That was sort of our origin story and how our organization came to be.

Our work is done only in coalition, so the story is illustrative of a need and a void that was in the Jewish community. People wanted a place to participate in progressive movements with Jewish identity front and center and Jewish values as part of that. When that call went out and so many people showed up, it showed that there was a need and that there was more to be done, so that’s when we were born.

What campaigns are you currently working on or standing behind in metropolitan Detroit? Why were those chosen? 

We are multi-issue, and we do all of our work in partnership and coalition. We have a lot of longtime trusted partnerships across the city with all different issues. Right now the issues that are bubbling to the top are centered in the state legislature, because of where we are in the cycle. 

Just before Rosh Hashanah, we went to the capitol, pushing to pass the Drive Safe package of bills before the session ends. We've been in a longstanding coalition with Cosecha Detroit and the Drive Michigan Forward Coalition on helping to get driver's licenses for undocumented folks. 

We just went to the capitol yesterday for Clean Energy Lobby Day to pass clean energy legislation. We have a lot of longstanding city relationships and campaigns around ending tax foreclosures, stopping illegal foreclosures and compensating folks who have been illegally foreclosed and dispossessed. We've also done a lot of longstanding work around water access and affordability in the city with the People's Waterboard Coalition, and We The People of Detroit, among others. 

What state legislative efforts does the organization focus on?

We created a legislative slate for the end of the session because we know this is a really powerful time, we’re likely going to be losing our majority, at least temporarily. DJJ’s 2023 state legislative agenda includes driver’s licenses for all, a statewide water affordability plan, clean energy, fair chance housing, and repealing the rent control ban. Those are the big things that we’re focused on this part of the year.  

How are you involved in or lending support to these campaigns?

It's different for each campaign, but essentially, we have one volunteer leader or staff organizer who serves as a liaison to our partner on a campaign, and they work together with that partner to determine what the best way to contribute to the campaign is. In the case of Drive Michigan Forward, sometimes it's turning folks out to actions and sending them to lobby days to talk to legislators. Sometimes it's asking our folks to serve as the safety team for an action that's being led by directly impacted folks or undocumented folks who are doing some kind of direct action and just need people there for protection and support.

On the water issue, sometimes it's going to Detroit water and sewage department meetings and taking really good notes and bringing those back to the coalition to help inform their strategy. Sometimes it's doing education for our community, especially in cases when the broader metro Detroit Jewish community actually has some power in changing policy. We did a lot of political education around the abortion issue and proposition three last year. We see community education and political education as a big piece of it.

Why is it important for people in Detroit to know about Jewish issues and the impacts of antisemitism?

There's this national narrative that antisemitism is on the rise. We think it's really important as a community that we're really clear-eyed about what that is and what the threat is and what the threat is not. We often believe that the mainstream narrative about antisemitism is actually being used to push regressive and conservative agendas and policies, and our community is really focused on how to fight antisemitism and how to stay safe. We believe that being safe means being in solidarity with other marginalized communities. We don't give in to isolationism or pushing regressive policies out of fear. 

What role does antisemitism play in how you approach your work? 

Our community has a lot of internal work to do, like any community facing oppression. So, building a strong analysis among our community is an important precursor, we think, to being in meaningful and right relationships with directly impacted communities. It allows us to do our work and reinforces the need for a deep, thoughtful solidarity model to know that we're only safe when we're together. We're not safe in isolation.

Can someone who is not Jewish join the organization? 

Yes, totally! We always like to say that DJJ is for Jewish folks and people that like to hang out with Jews. 

What else does the organization hope to accomplish in metro Detroit moving forward? 

We want to continue to add capacity to the most important issues of our time. We want to be a part of moving the needle on these issues. We also want to be a home for Jews who are feeling activism-curious and want a space to explore that with their Jewish identity at the center.

Also, we have an orientation coming up, so if you’re a metro Detroit Jew who is interested in learning more about our work and getting oriented and getting plugged in, you can come to this event

This entry is part of our Nonprofit Journal Project, an initiative inviting nonprofit leaders across Metro Detroit to contribute their thoughts via journal entries on how COVID-19, a heightened awareness of racial injustice and inequality, issues of climate change, and more are affecting their work  and how they are responding. This series is made possible with the generous support of our partners, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and Co.act Detroit.

Buy Your Tickets to Wolfgang 2023!

Update: This event has SOLD OUT and we currently have a waitlist! We also have a few volunteer roles open, please contact us if you'd like to claim one.

Thank you for visiting the ticket sales page for Wolfgang 2023! We are so excited to celebrate the social justice work of metro Detroit Jews and non-Jews who are fighting for a better world. Please either join our host committee or purchase individual tickets. You may choose whichever level feels right for you! 

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Devastating news. Saying goodbye to Bobbi Spiegler

It is with a heavy heart that I write to notify you of the passing of our beloved leader and friend, Bobbi Spiegler, after a brief and courageous fight with an aggressive cancer. Bobbi was a rank-and-file union organizer and a social worker. A champion for justice, she spent her life fighting for women’s liberation, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion access, worker’s rights, racial justice, and most recently, immigrant rights. Bobbi was the DJJ liaison to Movimiento Cosecha, spending the last several years pushing to secure driver’s licenses for undocumented Michiganders. Her loss is felt deeply across all the communities she touched.

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DJJ Makes a Statement on the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

Last week, our Executive Director and Board Chair submitted a statement to the White House Interagency Taskforce on Combatting Antisemitism.  They lifted up the critical need for the task force to take an intersectional approach in creating their strategy.  Check out the full statement below!

Dear Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice and
Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall,

Detroit Jews for Justice organizes the metro Detroit Jewish Community for racial and economic justice. We organize for housing justice, water rights, reproductive justice, dismantling antisemitism and promoting a multi-faith, multiracial democracy. We organize in solidarity with other marginalized communities in our region through state and local coalitions, interfaith initiatives, and Detroit-focused campaigns. Detroit Jews for Justice is the largest group of its kind in the state of Michigan and acts as a hub––even sometimes as a home––for members of the metro Detroit Jewish Community who share these progressive values rooted in tikkun olam, or repairing the world. 

Safety in solidarity

Organizing for racial and economic justice in Detroit has taught us that true safety can only be achieved through deep solidarity. Antisemitism does not occur in a vacuum; it is a key part of the machinery that upholds white supremacy. When we address antisemitism without an analysis of solidarity and intersecting oppressions, we will (intentionally or unintentionally) reinforce anti-Black racism, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry, and xenophobia. Not only does this stop us from fighting all forms of hatred, it also causes further harm to people of color in our own communities and further separates us from other marginalized groups. Definitions of antisemitism that conflate legitimate criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Jewish hatred are harmful and frequently used to silence Muslim and Arab Americans.  Similarly, implementing security programs for synagogues that focus exclusively on policing can harm people of color in congregations and broader communities - who are already at greater risk of experiencing police violence. We encourage you to examine the ways in which misguided steps to combat antisemitism might have a negative impact on other targeted communities. 

IHRA definition will not protect us

We believe adopting and codifying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism will distract and distort the Administration’s charge to combat antisemitism.  The definition does not adequately address the most dangerous form of antisemitism experienced by Jewish communities in America: white supremacist terror. We believe that formalizing this definition has the potential to cause harm to the Jewish community as well as other marginalized groups and we strongly discourage the Administration from adopting it. 

True community safety

Your administration has recognized that the IHRA remains a flawed and imperfect tool to root out this type of violence and associated rhetoric. Instead, we urge you to tackle antisemitism with tactics of holistic community safety, which cannot and should not be disentangled from the safety of all marginalized communities. Isolating our communities will not stop the rise of violence in this country.  Decades of data, research, and community advocacy across the country has shown that safe communities require robust social infrastructure like fully-funded schools, job opportunities, and expanded civic participation. Let’s focus there.

A nuanced and robust discourse about antisemitism is necessary to combat all forms of hatred – but the IHRA definition does not get us closer to a vision of safety and security for all communities. 



Allison Zeff, Executive Director, Detroit Jews for Justice

Hayley Sakwa, Board Chair, Detroit Jews for Justice

donated 2023-07-10 09:58:55 -0400

Help us DJJ- Do Justice Jewishly!

To buy your Purim 2024 tickets, please click here!

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Donate online here or send a check addressed to "Detroit Jews for Justice" to the following address:

Detroit Jews for Justice

440 Burroughs, Suite 625

Detroit, MI



DJJ is building Jewish political communities we can be proud of—communities based on local and intergenerational relationships, that practice solidarity with all oppressed people, and that embody the world we want to live in. We are building Jewish spaces that center the young, queer, non-white, and disabled among us, spaces that people won’t run away from. We are following the lead of movements of other marginalized groups, and building deep coalitions that will protect each other from the far-right. But in order to do all of this well, we need resources.

DJJ relies on its extended community for a substantial portion of our budget because we need to, but also because it reflects DJJ's commitment to letting our volunteer leaders guide the organization.  If you value the work of local, progressive, Jewish political organizing, donate today to celebrate a breakthrough 2022!

Thank you so much for your generous gift! Your support makes this work possible.

If you would like to become a monthly sustaining donor to DJJ, please click here

published Towards Stable Ground in Blog 2022-10-25 09:25:56 -0400

Towards Stable Ground

Here is our quarterly update: 

It is hard to stay oriented when so much—public health standards, cost of living, basic life tenets, etc.—feels unstable.

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Our Executive Director, Allie Zeff's remarks at Reproductive Rights Rally June 24th, 2022

Our ED, Allie Zeff was asked to speak at the Rapid Response Rally in Downtown Detroit on the day Roe vs. Wade was overturned by our supreme court on June 24th, 2022.  Below are her remarks and pictures from the event:

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published Board of Trustees in About Us 2022-07-28 14:01:21 -0400

Board of Trustees

2024 Officers

Hayley Sakwa -- Chair

Devin Samuels -- Vice Chair

Mike Medow -- Treasurer

Susannah Goodman -- Secretary


2024 Trustees

Adina Alpert

Levi Teitel

Joel Batterman

Lisa Tencer

Sara Habbo

Caryn Noveck

commented on Contact Us 2022-10-18 12:01:15 -0400
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signed up on 8 Days of Water Justice 2018-11-28 11:44:39 -0500

8 Days of Water Justice

DJJ leaders are developing a social media campaign that will tie the story of Hanukkah to our struggle for water justice.


Subscribe below to receive daily emails throughout Hanukkah, with educational content on local water issues and clear 

actions you can take to advocate for clean and affordable water. Or, keep checking this page and our Facebook page for daily updates!

Learn more about our work in partnership with People's Water Board Coalition at




Click the picture above or this link to access Day #1's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • Not on social media? We’ve got you covered. Visit and click on the “8 Days of Water Justice” tab to subscribe and receive daily emails that you can easily forward to your network.
  • CAN YOU RECRUIT 5 MACCABEES OF YOUR OWN, like the 5 sons of Mattathias to do this work with you? Share it with your folks, your family, your congregation, your bubbie… let’s get started!



Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • Implore your representatives to co-sponsor and push forward House Bills 4393 and 4389/4390!
  • If your representatives are on the House Local Government Committee, you are in a position to make these bills go through! Demand that they recognize the sanctity of water as a human right, and push them support legislation to decriminalize shut-offs and implement a water affordability plan. 
    • Chair: State Rep. James Lower, 70th District (R) - Montcalm County and Gratiot County
    • Julie Alexander, 64th District (R) - Jackson County
    • Roger Hauck, 99th District (R) - Isabella County and Midland County.
    • Ben Frederick, 85th District (R) - Shiawassee County and Saginaw County.
    • Gary Howell, 82th District (R) - Lapeer County
    • Jim Runestad, 44th District (R) - Highland, White Lake, Springfield, Milford, Waterford
    • Kathy Crawford, 38th District (R) - Lyon, Northville, Novi, South Lyon, Walled Lake
    • Sara Cambensy, 109th District (D) - Alger, Luce, Schoolcraft, Marquette (Upper Peninsula)
    • Jim Ellison, 26th District (D) - Royal Oak and Madison Heights
    • Patrick Green, 28th District (D) - Center Line and city of Warren
    • Jeremy Moss, 35th District (D) - Southfield, Lathrup Village, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Franklin
  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • For more information, talking points and resources, visit


Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.



Monica Lewis Patrick

Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • We The People of Detroit is stepping up to do the direct work of water testing in places that the government has overlooked. Click HERE to give directly to the We the People of Detroit!
  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • For more information, talking points and resources, visit and


Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • Instead of advocacy or donations, today's action item involves self-reflection - an essential part of engaging in activist work that is grounded in empathy and solidarity. 
  • Take a look at your own water bill. Calculate how much of your monthly income goes to paying for water. Is it within the EPA-recommended 4.5% guideline? Is it upwards of 10%, the average water bill for low-income residents as reported by researchers at the University of Michigan?  What trade-offs would you make if you had to pay such high rates? What trade-offs do you make?
  • Consider: Do you see scarcity where there is actually abundance, or vice versa? Why? How might corporate interests affect this perception?
  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • For more information, talking points and resources, visit 


Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • STUDY "America's Secret Water Crisis," the groundbreaking report from Food & Water Watch that shows the depth and breadth of the water crisis across the country. 
  • PUBLICIZE the media from Sunday night's Illuminating Water Justice action, available on our Facebook page, the Detroit Jewish News, and more. We need to build the awareness that Metro Detroit Jews stand up for water justice!
  • CALL & TAG  Mayor Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) with the following message, or a heartfelt message of your own:
    • "Mayor Duggan, 70 Metro Detroit Jews gathered on Hanukkah to voice our support for ending water shut-offs, implementing a water affordability plan, and restoring water to shut-off households. We know these solutions are critical to protect the health of our neighbors and the moral conscience of our region and we ask for your commitment to these policies in 2019.”
  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • For more information, talking points and resources, visit 



Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.



Click the picture above or follow this link to access today's video, hosted on our Facebook page.

You can find a transcript of this video here.


  • Keep increasing the light by staying involved with DJJ: RSVP for the upcoming orientation or general meeting!
  • Become a monthly sustaining donor to DJJ to sustain our efforts to mobilize the Metro Detroit Jewish community to work for racial and economic justice, or give a one-time donation before the end-of-the-year!
  • Like and share this post on Facebook & Instagram -- tag your friends in it with you. (Make sure to “tag friends” instead of just @-ing them, so it appears on their timelines!)
  • For more information, talking points and resources, visit 
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donated 2017-08-27 15:31:20 -0400

Tickets: Practicing Resistance

Purchase your ticket below for "Practicing Resistance: Jewish Solidarity in Action and Community" with M. Dove Kent and Baruch Koach Frazier on September 10th. For more details on the event, click here.

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Michigan Jews Pledge Solidarity with Immigrant, Arab & Muslim Communities


of a 300 signature goal


We will not stand idly by while the administration escalates its attacks on Muslims, Arabs, refugees and immigrants. We pledge to show up: in the streets, at the airport, in our decision-makers’ offices and inboxes. Compelled by Jewish values, history and self-interest, we commit to the struggle against white supremacy and bigotry in all its forms.

Sign below and share widely to help us meet our goal of 300 signatures.

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