As a founding member of DJJ, I can honestly say it's the most meaningful way I express my Jewish identity. Originally chairing the Arts, Culture and Community-Building Committee, I 've served as a member of the Steering Committee for the last two years. I grew up in Congregation T'Chiyah and am now a member of both T'Chiyah and the Downtown Synagogue. I've been involved in interfaith community organizing all my life (#mixedfamily), including participation in the Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network (DION), the Riverfront East Congregational Initiative (a program of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion), and the Cranbrook Peace Foundation's Youth Leadership Project. As a proud resident of Southwest Detroit, I'm active in community planning, advocacy on environmental degradation, along with volunteering with the Chang, Castañeda-Lopez and Tlaib campaigns. While I've participated in each of DJJ's campaigns, my most meaningful engagement has been around housing justice, canvassing within UCHC's foreclosure abatement initiatives for the last two years.
As an artist, potter, and teacher, I bring creative and intuitive skills to the DJJ. I've been tasked with attending to our organizational culture, and lead initiatives on intergenerational relationship-building, internal Israel-Palestine dialogue, and creative facilitation. Most recently, I was one of the co-chairs of the 2nd Shabbaton.
As a member of the Steering Committee for a second term, I plan to stay attentive to organizational and meeting culture, bring more creative expression and engagement to all our DJJ initiatives, and support the growing of capacity for our arts and cultural events and programs. Watching DJJ grow into the dynamic, responsive, and resilient organization it is today has been a great joy in my life.
I am currently in 11th grade at the Roeper School. I joined DJJ as an eighth grader during the push to get paid sick leave on the Michigan ballot. I was thrown right into petitioning and found a welcoming community where I would learn and grow as an organizer, and as a person. Over the past 3 years I have learned so much from my involvement in DJJ and from the people I have formed relationships with. I have also witnessed the organization grow and evolve but stay true to what it was when I joined: committed to relationships, accountability, and tackling systematic injustice. I am an active member of the water campaign team and have been involved with DJJ in various other ways over the past couple years, like through planning the Festival of Rights and attending workshops. I also have an organizing perspective outside of this organization through my experience working for a political candidate and as a Regional Youth Intern at Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. As an older member in terms of involvement, as well as one of the youngest DJJ members by age, I'm excited to bring a perspective that is both reflective and forward looking. During the Shabbaton a group of DJJniks gathered for this past spring, I joined a small gathering to discuss the question: what could DJJ look like in five years? The possibilities excited me and I look forward to many more of these conversations as a member of the steering committee.
Allie has been involved in DJJ for almost two years, and is chair of the Grassroots Fundraising team. She has been a member of the broader fundraising team since getting involved in DJJ in the summer of 2016. (Read her awesome blog, "Fundraising is Organizing," here!) Starting in the fall, Allie was onboarded as the standing fundraising team member of the Steering Committee -- following in the footsteps of Lori Lutz who served an incredible two years in this role. She has taken on substantial leadership in our event planning, including co-chairing the Hanukkah Festival of Rights. She also is a regular attendee of actions and protests. A music teacher and artists, she also enjoys singing & making zines!
I have been a proud leader in DJJ since its very beginning in 2014. The Detroit Jews for Justice community is one that makes my life in Detroit complete, and I am honored to serve as a leader among so many inspiring and incredible individuals. I came to DJJ with a variety of organizing experience through Habonim Dror and various social justice organizations at the University of Michigan. I have been a community organizer in various ways for over a decade! With DJJ, I have served as Education Justice Liaison (as a Detroit Public Schools teacher and union activist myself), Orientation coordinator, fundraising gelter, member of the Meta-Organizing Work group (aka MEOW), and many other committees. I am proud of my role in helping shape the organization we have grown into. Because of my experience as a DJJ leader and activist, I know that I have an important perspective that will be helpful in steering committee. I am excited to think about more big-picture perspectives on where we are headed as DJJ and how we can continue to make an even better impact with our partners in Detroit. I welcome the opportunity to continue helping shape this truly incredible organization with all of you!
My passion is for learning; my thought is for planning; and my heart is for action. My meaning in life is derived from a Jewish/Existential sense of responsibility for social justice. So who am I? Where am I?
Hineni (Here I am)-For 48 years I pursued social justice as an educator: a teacher, principal, leadership coach and school improvement facilitator.
Hineni (Here I am)-For most of my years I have been a big picture person with leadership skills who listens and understands the human need to develop meaningful relationships. As a member of various communities I trusted others and they in turn entrusted me to chair the board of Lighthouse PATH (of Oakland County), to lead the Pontiac Education Association PAC and to lead Congregation Shir Tikvah as its President .
Hineni (Here I am)-For 48 years my source of love and loving has been as a spouse, then as a parent and then as a grandparent.
Hineni (Here I am)- For 1.5 years with DJJ I have listened, learned, questioned, planned, created, rallied and marched as we’ve sought water justice, joined with the Poor People’s Campaign and sought to learn more about confronting racism.
Hineni (Here I am)-I am a learner, a planner, an activist, hoping, with your support, to nurture and help lead our beloved, multi-generational, Jewish organization to collaboratively achieve the social justice we seek.
I am a 74 (about to become 75 I hope) year old retired social worker who spent most of her life raising four amazing women, and working in mental health administration. I was born in Brooklyn and had a very traditional Jewish education. However, I have lived in many parts of the USA as well as in Israel and I think I have a global outlook on life. I love celebrating my Judaism by supporting progressive social policies. As a member of Congregation T’chiyah I have been involved with Detroit Jews for Justice since its inception and hope that my personal experience and energy could be of service to DJJ on the Steering Committee.
Last year I worked on the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) Campaign and the Sick Leave Campaigns as well, personally, for the 2016 elections. I will continue to work on these campaigns as they roll out this year, concentrating on Macomb County whenever possible.
I also had the opportunity to take the course Don’t Kvetch- Organize. The course had a profound effect on my thinking and understanding on how to approach organizing when confronted with social issues that require serious intervention and also enabled me to cope with the results of the election. I have been working with the Grace Lee & James Boggs Center on developing a Breaking the Silence group in Macomb County. This has proved to be a daunting task! I get much of my psychic energy through the contacts I have at DJJ with amazing people who care about our community and region.
Mary Ellen Gurewitz:
Mary Ellen is a lifelong Detroiter, who currently resides in the Palmer Woods neighborhood of Detroit. She has a B.A. in Economics from U of M, 1965, & a JD from Wayne Law School, 1974. Employed at the Detroit law firm of Sachs Waldman since 1979, where she specializes in union side labor law and political and election law. As former vice president and now president of our amazing host congregation and fiscal sponsor, Congregation T'chiyah, she was a core driver in the founding of DJJ. She has been an active leader on our fundraising team since the beginning and also contributes legal knowledge to our Governance Team.