Trump said living in Detroit is like "living in hell.” It’s a tired, old narrative, and we’ve heard it before.
As a lifelong Detroiter, I grew up all across the city - my family lived in Rosedale Park, the Cass Corridor, Green Acres, finally Oak Park and Grosse Pointe. I'm now a proud homeowner in beautiful SW Detroit. My family's story of migration is complex, one that many Metro Detroit Jews identify with - the movement towards areas of greater comfort, privilege and perceived safety. In each of the border communities I’ve lived, I heard rhetoric similar to Trump's, using false narratives about Detroit (and other predominantly Black communities) to rationalize the hoarding of resources, stoke fear, and further divide us against one other. The stories we tell have the power to do great harm. They also have the power to deepen connection.Read more
We didn't all understand the protests at the beginning. We can all learn more. It's on all of us to challenge our own assumptions, not challenge others' realities. Black Lives Matter.Read more
We are so moved by the outpouring of support, curiosity, and openness in response to our Havdalah & Teach-In. Thank you for being part of this critical conversation.
When Jamon spoke, I was struck by the deep racial divides on which our system of policing was built. When Rocky spoke, I saw how those divides are still present and harming Detroiters today. When Aaron reflected on the transformative change that is happening in Minneapolis, I felt hopeful, while also skeptical and afraid. When I heard four beloved members of the Metro Detroit Jewish community talk about how this moment is challenging their imaginations, I felt energized. I felt as though I was not alone.
These past few weeks have been confusing-- what does it mean to defund the police? What does community policing look like? And I’ve felt hopeful, imagining a Jewish community acting in solidarity, motivated by strength and love, instead of fear.Read more
Since our inception, DJJ has worked to be a committed partner to the Black Lives Matter movement. Our very first action as an organization was a Hanukkah vigil after the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO.
(December 2014 DJJ’s first action at Campus Martius)
Due to long-term organizing locally and nationally and the consecutive killings of Breonna Taylor (Kentucky), Ahmaud Arbery (Georgia) and George Floyd (Minnesota) we find ourselves in another such movement moment -- a moment ripe with possibility and rife with challenging questions.
As our sister organization in the Twin Cities, Jewish Community Action, recently wrote:
“What does it look like to "show up" in this moment? How do we respond to such violence? And how do we do it in the midst of a pandemic that’s disproportionately infecting and killing people of color? A virus that itself embodies the same racism and systemic injustice that killed George Floyd?”
We can start by following the lead of The Movement For Black Lives in fighting alongside those turning up in the streets and online.
We’ll do our best to offer our network opportunities and resources for meaningful and strategic action, education and solidarity.
Gathering Our People
This Saturday evening at 8pm, join the DJJ community for ritual, processing, learning and a call to action.
- Volunteer for Protest Support - (Jail Support, Legal Observing, and Remote Opportunities)
- Offer legal representation for protestors.
- Donate to sustain local work for racial justice: Detroit Justice Center, Michigan Liberation, Black Youth Project 100 Detroit
- Display a BLM sign on your lawn and distribute to friends & neighbors. You can purchase one here or here.
- Encourage your congregation to display a large “Black Lives Matter” banner on their property. We understand this can be a difficult conversation - if they are willing to consider it, DJJ is available to provide learning resources and practical support.
**DJJ is committed to supporting community members who are choosing to march. Be in touch with Allie if you are seeking legal, safety or spiritual resources. Please be safe. We encourage you to practice social distancing guidelines and wear a mask. It can be powerful to show multiracial solidarity, and it is essential to not spread sickness to communities that are already grieving.**
Follow this link for learning resources. We will highlight a few here:
- “Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge.”
- Believe us’: Black Jews Respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words”
- Ibram X. Kendi’s anti racist reading list
- JFREJ’s Shavuot for Black Lives study guide
Strategizing for the Long Haul
In the past year, we have spent countless hours developing a new campaign structure that will allow us to organize with more agility and effectiveness. On Tuesday, July 21st we will launch a new team dedicated to mobilizing the Jewish community for racial justice. Save the date and stay tuned for more details.
DJJ is doubling-down on our commitment to the work of racial justice. We are proud to announce an ambitious new program, working closely with synagogues to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. We are honored by an (almost official!) generous commitment from the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative for this work. The grant will also support us to amplify the voices of Jews of Color, who have been telling us unequivocally that we in the Jewish community must show up for Black Jews and for all Black people targeted by state violence. We will announce our new hire soon, and in the meantime you can email Allie to express interest in learning more and invest in our capacity to do this work.
Please join us in raising our collective Jewish voice in support of Black lives.
(R. Alana speaking in Ferguson, MO 2014)
Rabbi Alana Alpert
What You Need to Know about Lobbying
Based on a Workshop by ACLU Smart Justice Campaign April 29, 2020
The workshop explained how to lobby using the Smart Justice opposition to mass incarceration as its focus.
The main organization of a lobbying effort should include 3 major elements: Issue, Audience and Story.Read more
This past Sunday, a group of dedicated DJJniks got together over zoom in solidarity with educators, school workers, students, and families who's futures are uncertain at this time. With the leadership of MI CORE, we made signs demanding that all school workers be paid in light of school closings, that the instructional days be forgiven, and that everyone be kept home until the COVID-19 pandemic is definitively under control. After some therapeutic art-making, we made calls to some members of our state senate to demand that they get this done and pass SB373 with the necessary amendments to serve Michigan students. We all made sure to make a call to Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, to lay the pressure on. Want to join in the at-home advocacy? Use our signs as inspiration and put it in your window! Want to contact the Michigan Legislature? Scroll to the bottom of this post for a call script!
Purim Extravaganza 2020 was only two weeks ago! It seems like a distant dream in these times of community care and intense social distancing. We are very grateful we got the chance to celebrate in community with you at Purim Extravaganza 2020 and hope that you are taking the time to be safe and healthy.
It was my first DJJ Purim and boy, did it NOT disappoint!!! I mean, WOW!!! Did you make it to that Family Carnival?! There was a bounce house! I think the equation: bounce house + children = success, holds true. So many great activities planned by Dor Hadash, IADS and Repair the World Detroit were appreciated by families and loved ones that came to share in our silly Purim joy.
Oh and the costume contest! It's so wonderful to see community turn up in all their creative magic. I mean, there was a butterfly princess who emerged from her chrysalis LIVE on stage! The contest was hosted by the lovely Mr. Rogers or was it the impassioned Mr. Sanders? Any who, it was great and everyone got a prize! A DJJ water bottle. I had quite the adventure passing them out to the children who swarmed the stage to get one. Note for next year: pass out free stuff to children off stage and not near stairs.
And what is there to say about our wonderful Purim Spiel this year?! It was hilarious, it was on point, it was wonderful. It takes such ingenious work and creativity to write a satirical play and make it current to our campaign partner's work, but they did it! Shushan for all!!! We got to hear from our campaign partners Cosecha and their Drive without Fear campaign. We were able to raise money for a campaign action as well as distribute commitment cards amongst DJJ-niks. So wonderful to see celebration and community work come together.
But what am I talking for? You can re-live the whole experience with all the Purim joy and laughter! We got the photos ready to click through. Check out the Purim Extravaganza 2020 album here!
Thank you for turning up for your community! We hope to see your faces soon!
On Wednesday, February 12th, the Climate Strike Coalition held a performative direct action in front of DTE Energy’s headquarters. Click here to watch a 15-minute video of the short play, which cast a satirical, Valentine’s Day-themed light on DTE’s terrible business practices and disastrous 15-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The video does not have subtitles, but you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to access a large-font copy of the script.Read more
On February 13th, I attended The Michigan Environmental Justice (EJ) Summit commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the 1990 “Michigan Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards." The conference back in 1990 catalyzed significant momentum towards EJ policies at high levels of government during the Clinton administration. Building off this legacy, the 2020 EJ Summit convened Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability students, activists, and national and local leaders in policy-making, community organizing, and academia to reflect on and celebrate all that has been accomplished over the past 30 years, and to rededicate ourselves to the fight ahead. The Summit speakers represented the north star of the EJ movement. Listening to their wisdom was an incredible gift.
Read ahead for a summary of highlights of the community leaders panel and the national panel, with photographs of the speakers. Click here to see the schedule for the day, complete with the full speaker lineup and video recordings (sans captions) of both panels, as well as of the student “flash talks.”Read more