Summer Update 2018

Dear friends,

The morning after an incredible shabbaton of relationship and skills-building, over a dozen DJJ leaders schlepped to Lansing to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign. We were rolling deep because the day’s theme of Environmental Justice brings out the cause dearest to our collective heart: water.

Those of us risking arrest shared why we were there. I said, “I’m here because this is how I pray.” Spiritual practice challenges our need for certainty, our obsession with clarity, our hubris of imagined control. We don’t know if anything will come of using our bodies to communicate our outrage about water shutoffs and poisoned land to decision-makers in Lansing. But we do know that we must practice taking risks for justice. We must practice answering the call of our partners to stand with them: indeed, without the work of DJJ, there would have been almost no Jewish presence in the Michigan campaign. As DJJ practiced these things, I felt deeply grateful to be rooted in a spiritual tradition and Metro Detroit Jewish community committed to nurturing the critical intersection between faith and social change.

Photo by Tommy Airey

We are especially proud to have inducted an incredible number of DJJ leaders and friends of many ages into the tradition of direct action (including a bunch of rabbis!). One of our young leaders, Seth Archambault, describes his experience:

"The Poor People’s Campaign was an opportunity to stand for racial justice in a way that required more than just words, while staying true to the way of being I aspire to: Loving, Courageous, and Empowered. Now that I’ve experienced what non-violent direct action feels like, I know that even in the face of massive systemic issues, I have the ability to take action and stand for something greater than the status quo." 

This summer has been brutal: family separation, the Supreme Court blow to unions, and on and on. It is the holy chutzpah of leaders like Seth and our partners in the Poor People’s Campaign that keep me from despair. Thank you for supporting our work to take our faith to the streets.



P.S. Our partners in the social justice community are calling for escalation around a number of injustices. I was recently encouraged to speak out at a forum with the Mayor in my district. Click here to check out my remarks and the community response.

Upcoming Events

Rosh Hashanah with T'chiyah & Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman

Monday, September 10th, 9:45AM, Greater New Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Banquet Hall, Detroit

This year's lay-led High Holy Day services with T'chiyah (our amazing host synagogue!) will be in partnership with the Reconstructionist Congregation of Detroit and in collaboration with our friends at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. The first day of Rosh Hashanah will feature a teaching by Rabbi Alana & Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellermann, a long-time justice fighter and leader of the Michigan Poor People's Campaign. RSVP at this link by September 1st so volunteers know how many folks to expect. We hope you and yours join us for these special days of personal and communal reflection and renewal.


DJJ at the Michigan Jewish Food Festival


Save the Dates!

Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird 

Tuesday, September 26th, 6pm, Marble Bar, Detroit

DJJ, Birmingham Temple and Wayne State’s Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies invite you to join us for a concert with the phenomenal Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird. Based in Berlin, their music has been described as "a mixture of Klezmer, radical Yiddish song, political cabaret and punk folk.” (Daniel proudly hails from Detroit.) Not to be missed! Proceeds will benefit DJJ’s work for racial and economic justice and Birmingham Temple’s efforts to support a local family of Syrian refugees. More details & ticket information coming soon.

Image by Eric Drooker 


Writing Workshop & Havdallah with Marge Piercy

Friday, October 26th & Saturday, October 27th. Location TBD

T'chiyah and the Cohn-Haddow Center are hosting a writer's workshop and a Havdallah with beloved antiwar activist, feminist, environmentalist, and Detroit native Marge PiercyMore details & registration coming soon.


New Leader Orientation

Thursday, December 13th, 6-8PM. Location TBD

Have you been thinking about getting more involved in DJJ? Our in-depth orientation will help you learn how. RSVP here! (If you want to learn more about DJJ in the meantime, reach out to Director of Organizing, Eleanor, at [email protected] to meet with a current leader.)

On the blog blog_image.png

On the Poor People's Campaign:

Rabbi Becca Walker's thoughts

Jake Ehrlich reflects on the PPC, & his thoughts were published by the Detroit Jewish News

Marni Falk (whose grandfather studied under Heschel!) on PPC Day 1

Photos from the PPC

Miriam's PPC experience

Leading Jewish organizations endorse the PPC


On the New Office:

Equitable Internet Comes to DJJ

Introducing our new intern, Miriam Lupovitch

Leah on her summer organizing internship


On DJJniks Around Town:

Molly's Reflections on Moral Courage & Bend the Arc Training

Our co-founder's recent landmark civil rights court case win 

Dylan on their experience at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute

Emma on "White People Confronting Racism"

Chris' Blog was picked up by the DJN

Emma Wine on Shabbaton 2018

Thank you Lou, our trusty Treasurer!

Valeriya's experience with the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training


On Environmental, Water & Immigration Justice:

Rabbi Alana’s remarks at Duggan’s District 5 Community Meeting

Mike's Reflections on District 5 Meeting

A letter to DJJ from the Pilgrimage Rabbi

Shabbaton & Sustainability


What we’re reading:

Recommendations by our new food justice liaison:

WDET’s Detroit Today connects food and housing security in “Federal Decision on Farmers Markets Could Put Fresh Food at Risk for Poor”

“Detroit Shows How Cuts to SNAP Affect an Entire Community” by Brian Allnutt

Earl Blumeaneaur makes the above stories make more sense with “Why Every American Should Care About the Farm Bill”


On Healing Justice, Spirituality, & Community Organizing

Daniel Gelbtuch’s “No Small Project”

naya maya’s “Communities of Care, Organizations for Liberation”


On the power of taking action as intergenerational community

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann’s “Why is Grandpa in Jail?” (photo at right by Valerie Jean)

Gordon Chin’s “Parents, Grandparents, and Children Unite…”

Y’shkoyach* to Our Comrades…

*y’shkoyach, short for yasher koach, means “more power to you!”

Making it Happen

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