On Wednesday March 22nd, I had the opportunity to travel to Lansing with DJJ and many other Detroiters in honor of World Water Day. We were all heading to the capital to raise our concerns about water issues plaguing Detroit, Flint, and the state of Michigan.
The day was organized by the People’s Water Board, and myself and other members of DJJ were there to help out, learn and raise our voices with them. As members of DJJ, we helped transport Detroiters from different parts of the city to make it downtown for the 7:30 am bus to Lansing, and we also provided childcare throughout the day so that WWD attendees could lobby their senators and state reps.Read more
The Detroit Jewish News featured a nice write-up by DJJ leader Jordan Smellie on our recent Purim celebration:
This month, Jews from across Metro Detroit gathered in Hamtramck for a Purim party with a focus on public education. Detroit Jews for Justice put on the event to draw attention to the threats posed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other policy-makers — and to encourage the Jewish community to mobilize for education justice.
“One Jewish group seems to be trying to remove Judaism from Purim, recently “updating” the Purim story as a social justice story about Flint water.” - Detroit Jewish News 3/1/17 (opinion)
And second, Purim is impossible to “update”, because Purim is timeless: it reveals deep truths that only feel more and more relevant.
Purim isn’t about defeating Haman, it’s about defeating Hamanism, a force in every generation.
We thought we couldn’t top last year, but what has followed Nov. 8 provides endless material and a profound need for revelry. Not escapism - but a safe framework for facing our worst fears, so many of which seem to be coming true.
It’s hard to imagine anything more absurd than the reality we are living through: a climate-change denier heading the EPA? IMPOSSIBLE! An enemy of public schools is Secretary of Education? INCONCEIVABLE! Don’t get me started on Commander-in-Chief...
Did our Purim spiel energize you to join the fight for education justice? Marni Falk (DPS teacher/activist & DJJ education justice liaison) invites you to take action against H.R. Bill 610! Read on for info from Marni about the bill and instructions for contacting Michigan reps.
My name is Rachel Lerman and I’m a DJJ leader. As I’m sure most of you have heard, Trump released a revised version of the travel ban this week. Throughout these past few months, I often think of my grandparents and their experience coming to this country as immigrants: my grandmother came here in 1939 to escape Poland, and my grandfather survived Auschwitz and came here after the war. We must remember our shared stories and history - and take action to ensure that this country is a place where immigrants, refugees and Muslims are welcomed.
We are proud and privileged to live in a diverse state. Six percent of Michiganders are immigrants, with an undocumented community of over 100,000. We have the second largest Arab-American population in the country. We are among the top two states for resettlement of refugees, with over 2,000 Syrians joining our Michigan community in recent years.Read more
Copied below is a piece on the Thanksgiving Havdalah Rabbi Alana hosted for Standing Rock, written by Lily Grier for the Detroit Jewish News.Read more
In "Closing the Black-Jewish Divide in Detroit," DJJ organizer Eleanor Gamalski adds her insight to B.L.A.C. Magazine's conversation around race, Judaism, and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 rebellion in Detroit.
“I think everyone in the suburbs needs to have a more nuanced understanding of the disinvestment and police brutality and the housing crisis that lead to the rebellion and the ways that those forces continued to damage the city,” Gamalski says. “The decline was not marked by the rebellion.”
Dozens of DJJniks demonstrated at DTW against the Executive Order. Here are photos of the event.
The following letter was read at "A Call to Courage", Detroit - 1/20/17
I'm sorry that I can't be physically present at this powerful gathering, and I'm so grateful to be present in spirit and in word.
I'll be honest: sometimes I hate Torah. Too often it feels like I am raging against my inheritance more than I am nourished by it. This is not one of those moments - and I am so grateful. This is one of those moments that Torah gives me just what I need. Tomorrow, in synagogues around the world, Jews will read the beginning of the story of Exodus. We will chant: "Vayakom melekh chadash al Mitzrayim -- a new King arose over Egypt".... and thus begins, again, our formative story of moving from the narrow-straights of slavery to the wide plains of liberation.
As Michael Walzer writes
“We still believe [...] what the Exodus first taught [...]: First; that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt; second; that there is a better place, [...] a promised land; and third, that the way to the land is through the wilderness. There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching.”
The meeting of this moment in our mythic history and this moment in our lived history is just what I needed. Through this chance miracle I remember: we've been here before. Our comrades at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice have been saying "5777 years of Jewish resistance -- we're ready already".
I would like to take this opportunity to honor the memory of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who died this week in Jewish time 45 years ago. When he marched with Rev. King in Selma he said "i felt as if my feet were praying".
A few days after the election, I posted:
I have never been more grateful to be both clergy and a community organizer.
Movement friends: if you don't have some wellspring from which to draw, start digging! There are rituals, stories, songs that can make you stronger. There are frameworks to help you feel a part of the long arc.
Faith friends: lace up your shoes, and roll up your sleeves - it's time to pray with those feet.
I leave you with the words Rabbi Heschel wrote to President Kennedy in 1963:
"the hour calls for high moral grandeur and spiritual audacity"