I still remember the twinkle in Andy’s eye. It was early 2013 - I was working at the DIA and taking a coffee break with my old family friend. I’d recently moved home to Detroit after graduation from my tiny Quaker college, followed by several years making, learning, and teaching pottery. Conspiring over coffee, Andy Levin shared with me his vision for a robust social justice movement growing from the fertile earth of Congregation T’Chiyah, embodying our shared Reconstructionist values.
As a child of Congregation T’Chiyah, I was raised with the certainty that seeking justice is at the heart of our tradition–tzedek tzedek tirdof. My elders debated the text vigorously during services, and modeled lives pursuing justice through a wide range of avenues. I’m grateful to remain in community with many of them today, implementing the lessons they taught me: that Jewish identity compels us to action, to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and identify the Pharaoh in every age, to challenge even the highest authority for the sake of righteousness itself (Genesis 18:22).
I feel so lucky to belong to a community that has evolved along a path parallel to my own–shifting our approach from individual tikkun olam toward collective action. The prophetic leadership of Rabbi Alana has grown that initial twinkle into a bright flame of action and hope, which is Detroit Jews for Justice.
My time with DJJ as a leader has been meaningful, challenging, and wildly fun. From serving four years on the Steering Committee, to canvassing with UCHC’s foreclosure prevention team, to planning two Purim Extravaganzas and a Shabbaton, to spearheading an organization-wide evaluation, to facilitating the hiring process for our new organizer (yay Allie), I’m eternally grateful for the campaign and community-building work we’ve done together. The growth of DJJ in the past five years has been inspiring. Staff members Valeriya, Allie, and Rabbi Alana (along with Eleanor and Blair) have established a highly effective, accountable, and reflective organizational culture. The most moving element continues to be our community of leaders, DJJ-niks and collaborators in this fight for racial and economic justice in Metro Detroit.
Thanks to a recent major gift, Detroit Jews for Justice–this emergent organization you and I have built together–is growing into its next phase.
I’m honored to join the team as Deputy Director, managing organizational operations, financial systems, and strategic initiatives. Thank you for your support on this journey. If our mission continues to twinkle for you, as it has for me, please make a sustaining gift to DJJ at: https://www.detroitjewsforjustice.org/donate.