This is a guest post by DJJ'nik Harriet Saperstein.
Dear Friends, Members and Supporters of Detroit Jews for Justice:
Esther K. Shapiro, my good friend, and a “courageous crusader”, died comfortably at her Lafayette Park home in Detroit on October 14, 2016 at 98+ years. We are all safer consumers because of Esther. We are all better citizens because of Esther. We all have a more equal society because of Esther. Among her many positions, she was Director of Consumer Affairs in Detroit from 1974-1990, a Board member and official of many state and national consumer organizations, and an activist concerned with social justice throughout her long and well-lived life.Read more
Check out Hayley Sakwa's piece on Vote Yes for Regional Transit in the Detroit Free Press -- the last of five incredible pieces from DJJ leaders on this critical ballot measure. Among readers offering their perspective on the upcoming election, Hayley offers this thoughtful take:
"It has been obvious for months: the outcome of this election will have vast implications on the future of our country. Yet no matter who wins, policies of a newly elected president will fall flat in Metro Detroit unless we vote yes to pass the regional transit millage."
Visit the blog to read other pieces on transit written by the DJJ community.
Our leaders are working their tuchuses off to get out the word about Vote Yes for Regional Transit.
Check out this spot-on letter to the ed in the Detroit News from DJJ intern, Eli Zucker:
"Oakland Country is a bubble, and that’s not right. I grew up in West Bloomfield, and the commute by car to Detroit is only 45 minutes. But it is fair to say that like so many other folks who live in Oakland Country, Detroit feels like a world away."
The word keeps spreading! Here's a piece from DJJ core leader Andy Levin in the Macomb Daily
Read the full article here, and check out a preview below.
"It seems like there’s a new headline every day about this or that automaker or tech firm making new investments, buying new companies, or opening new test facilities — all in the hopes of capturing a lucrative piece of the autonomous and connected transportation business. There is a consensus that the future of the auto and truck industries will depend on sensors, communications technology and intelligent infrastructure. But there is little agreement about where the work to create this new world of transportation will be centered."
Another awesome piece on "Schlep for Transit" in the Detroit Jewish News! Check out this pitch for the Schlep for Transit from our own Ben Falik.
"Let’s talk about the bottom of your ballot. (All I will say about the top is that I am just as excited for my son to have a female president as I am for my daughter; if neither sees a white guy deliver the State of the Union until they are teenagers, it will be too soon.) But back to the bottom. As much as I believe in the representative and federalist nature of our government — electing and engaging good people to act ethically on behalf of all their constituents — we have a decisive direct democratic decision to make next month."
Between logistics, music, marketing, studying, planning, writing and reflecting, I’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks in what I call a “High Holiday black hole”. Not very long before RH I peeled myself away from my desk, tried to look somewhat professional, and drove out to West Bloomfield. Rabbi Silverman had asked me to sit on a beit din, to serve as one of three judges in a conversion. I cursed her the whole way there, and when I arrived I cursed her to her face. “Seriously?? The week before Rosh Hashana?!”. She just smiled at me the knowing smile of a rabbi who has been doing this longer... I was quickly chastened of course - as soon as the process began it was clear there was no more important place for me to be. To listen to a brilliant young woman share why she is choosing our meshuga people - to listen to her share how Judaism brought her joy and connectedness and deepened her commitment to justice… what an incredible privilege. I sat outside the doors of the mikvah, the ritual bath, listening to the sounds of the newest Member of the Tribe dunking and blessing - and I was deeply honored to be present to shout mazel tov.
The mikvah is a ritual bath which marks important transitions like childbirth, menstruation cycles, and conversion, and prepares for High Holidays, or other life cycle events. The mikvah forms the ritual precursor to the central Christian ritual of baptism and Islamic ritual ablution. Archaeologists have found mikvaot dating from over 2000 years ago in Palestine-Israel and beyond.
The first time I used the Mikvah was just before my rabbinic ordination. We all sat in the courtyard just outside the doors of the bath singing for what must have been hours as each of our classmates, who we had been through so much with, took their turn to immerse. The tears came as soon as I entered the dressing room - before I entered the bath. I still remember, from the other side of the wall, the voices of my classmates singing Olam Hesed Yibaneh ya nay nay nay ya na nay nay We Will Build This World with Love....
Detroit Jewish News published a piece by one of our own, DJJ leader Kim Siegel-Molnar, on why we should vote YES for regional transit.
"Everyone knows Detroit is the 'Motor City' that made automotive transportation a staple method of getting around town. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Metro Detroit area has access to a vehicle. Those without a car have slim to no options for getting from point A to point B..."
Read on here! Go, Kim.
According to the Jewish tradition, we are in a sacred time right now. As I write this, we are 15 days into the month of Elul -- halfway through the month that precedes the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, two of the holiest days of our festival calendar. As all New Year festivals do, these holidays offer us great opportunity for reflection upon our past year’s troubles and triumphs.Read more
The following is a shortened version of a sermon delivered by Rabbi Alana Alpert at Congregation T'chiyah.
“A talmid haham (Torah scholar) is not allowed to live in a city that does not have these 10 things: a beit din (law court) [..]; a tzedakah fund [..]; a synagogue; a bath house; a bathroom; a doctor; a craftsperson; a blood-letter; a butcher; and a teacher of children”. (Sanhedrin 17b)
Our tradition is unequivocal: there is no meaningful Jewish life alone. And it’s not enough to have a few buddies - there must be critical mass, and that critical mass needs to be organized.
So much for all my fantasies about trekking off to a mountainside to live my days alone in nature. As Genesis tells us “It is not good for humans to be alone” , or the more militant Talmudic creed "oh chevruta oh mituta" - “Give me companionship or give me death”. No serious Jewish life is possible outside of community. And not just any community - holistic community. Community that takes responsibility for the varied needs of its members.
Law court, the tzedakah fund, synagogue, bath, toilet, doctor craftsperson, bloodletter, butcher and teacher -- are those things enough? Rabbi Brad Artson points out that other necessary services such as defense, roads and bridges would certainly be on the list were those not covered by the imperial power during Talmudic days. What other kinds of infrastructure, goods and services are sine que non - that without which Jewish life is not possible? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for community?
You may remember the name James Robertson....
This past Tuesday, twenty-five amazing DJJ leaders met together and began initiating action towards passing the Regional Master Transit Plan. If passed, a proposal on the November ballot would provide all of Southeast Michigan - including Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties - the necessary funding to build a more viable transit system, which would connect communities, create and sustain jobs, and increase independence for seniors and folks with disabilities.Read more