L’Shana Tovah Umetukah!
Hey folks, Syma here. I’m a proud DJJ Steering Committee member, mother, grandmother, and Macomb County Jew. I hope this email finds you safe, well, and nourished by the holiday season. We will certainly need to stay nourished as we navigate the next few months together.
In my studies leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I was confronted by the concept of Teshuvah, often defined as repentance. Rabbi Shefa Gold says:
“Looking inward and looking outward: that's what we do on Rosh Hashanah. We stop long enough to look at the world and the year that has passed. But we also take the time to look at ourselves. If we can understand who we are and what's expected of us, then we can begin to change, to return. Every change begins within; it must start deep within our hearts. [...] This is the true meaning of Teshuvah.”
Several months ago, I began a personal journey into a deeper understanding of systemic racism.Read more
Before I even arrived in Michigan, I could tell that DJJ was a special organization, a special community. As I looked through DJJ’s website and read the Core Principles that guide our work, I could tell that the people who established DJJ were committed to justice and equity at every level of this project.Read more
Hi! I’m Kendra, DJJ’s new Program Associate for Racial Equity (PARE or, the Pear, if you will). I’m not new to DJJ, but this position is, and I’m so excited to work with all of you and with folks in similar roles across the country to grow and develop it. I remember hearing about DJJ starting up just as I was graduating from Roeper and moving down to North Carolina, where I was an active leader in our sister organization, Carolina Jews for Justice. In 2016, I visited Detroit for the holidays and found myself at the DJJ Festival of Rights Chanukah party. I remember thinking, “I like these people.”
As one of the DJJ leaders who joined the The Water Justice Team well after it had made significant inroads working with an amazing ally, the People’s Water Board, I was interested in finding ways we could continue to bring our message to suburban Jews. We have had success with several synagogues but we need to keep moving forward.Read more
DJJ is growing -- and we want you to grow with us!
A year ago, we realized it was time for DJJ to level-up. We set out to design a new organizing system to meet the needs of our changing community.
A new model is emerging from a year long listening process. After gathering feedback from community partners, sister organizations, the Campaign Advisory Team, the Meta Organizing Workgroup, the Steering Committee, and 60+ DJJ leaders, we are launching two platform teams:Read more
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