Winter Update: Adar is for Organizing

DJJniks march on MLK Day in Detroit

Dear friends,

I know you’re gonna say, “duh,” but it took a meditation retreat in SoCal to remind me that though this work threatens to exhaust and depress, it doesn’t have to. Actually, it mustn’t. We must do whatever it takes to make this work joyful and nourishing.

The Hebrew month of Adar, which we recently entered, demands this. To close our monthly General Meeting this week, we sang “Mi sh’Nichnas Adar Marbim b’Simcha - When Adar arrives, joy increases.” At the end of a long winter, we look at the harsh reality that power is fickle, that violence is ever-threatening, and that there is no one to save us but us. We face this truth with two powerful weapons: laughter & joy.

Our raucous, joyful, 3rd Annual Purim Extravaganza, chaired by the incomparable Raya Samet, is around the corner. With support from DJJ housing justice liaisons Dana Kornberg and Gabe Slabosky, Geulah Finman and Aaron Mondry co-wrote a spiel will bring our tradition to life, shedding light on Detroit’s housing crisis.

Geulah reflected: “the writing process was a culmination of all my passion to face issues in my community with creative and comedic skills in the context of Jewish culture, with a sense of urgency and inspiration from collaborators from many different backgrounds.” Purim is not a break from the work, it is the work: it is part and parcel of our efforts to build a community that is awake, resilient, powerful, and deeply committed to the fight for a just world. We look forward to seeing you there.

Being in California, the retreat let me connect with friends in my hometown about DJJ’s work. I was proud to share our first ever year-end report, which you can read here. Folks were moved to learn how profound the struggle for racial and economic justice is in Detroit, and amazed to learn how much we’ve contributed in such a short time. Please enjoy the report and share with others.

Happy Adar! 

Rabbi Alana Alpert

Upcoming Events & Opportunities

Calling all Jews of Color! Workshop with Aurora Levins Morales

Tuesday, March 27th

We’re thrilled to offer an incredible opportunity for members of our community to connect with each other and activist and poet Aurora Levins Morales.

Image ©2015 Linda Haas

Show Up for Regional Transit

A coalition of transit advocates led by our friends the Motor City Freedom Riders are building support north of 8 Mile for regional mass transit! We need to make sure local elected leaders know that suburban residents support transit.

Sign up here to meet with your city councilperson, mayor, or county commissioner! Transit supporters from Troy, Novi, Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Bloomfield Hills in Oakland County, & all across Macomb County are especially needed. The coalition will help set up meetings, connect you with other transit supporters in your community, and provide materials and talking points.

Help Furnish Our New Office

We’ve moved into a space at Breakers Covenant Church International in Detroit’s North End! Help us furnish our new nest by consulting our office supplies wishlist at this link.

New Leader Orientation

Thursday, March 15th, 6-8PM at the Mondry Building, 15000 W 10 Mile Rd, Oak Park

Have you been thinking about getting more involved in DJJ? Our newly revamped orientation will help you learn how. Doors open at 5:30. RSVP here!

World Water Day

Thursday, March 22, 10AM - 1PM at the Central United Methodist Church, 215 N Capitol Ave, Lansing

For the third year in a row, water justice advocates from across Michigan will converge in the state capital. RSVP here to join the DJJ contingent attending the rally & march.

Worker's Rights Petition Gathering

The Restaurant Opportunities Center United & the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan are running two campaigns -- One Fair Wage & MI Time to Care, respectively -- aimed at improving the lives of low-wage workers.

If you want to get involved with these two petition signature collection drives, our worker's rights liaisons Haley Sakwa & Hannah Miller invite you to a training and free dinner in Detroit's New Center. This is a really easy way to participate in the worker's rights movement without a big time commitment. Call Hayley at (248) 508-0558 or Hannah at (248) 302-0223 to learn more.

Y’shkoyach* to Our Comrades...

Jews United for Justice & Working Matters for winning by a narrow 12-11 margin the right to earned leave for Maryland workers!

Bend the Arc and 18 of their partner organizations for their incredible non-violent act of civil disobedience in DC in solidarity with Dreamers

Avodah for their phenomenal, ongoing speaker series exploring some of today’s most pressing social issues from a Jewish lens, “Speak Torah to Power

Riverwise Magazine for launching their Writer/Artist Sponsorship fundraiser! Consider making a donation to the incredible team at Riverwise and lift the creative voices of this local community publication

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

Campaign Update 

Our water justice team is continuing to work in coalition with the People’s Water Board to fight for access to clean and affordable water in Michigan. We’re pushing for a hearing on bills 4393 and 4389/4390 in the MI House of Representatives. You can learn more about the bills here and check out some of the frequently asked questions we’ve been running into here.

On January 30th, DJJ and PWB organized constituents from key House districts to lobby their reps in the local government committee in Lansing. We learned so much from the experience. The campaign team is now looking to plan an event in a member of the house committee on local government’s district. Want to get involved/have questions about our water work? Email Aaron Appel at or Emma Share at

On the Blog

DJJniks at the Muslim ARC Gala!

Imagine Winning: Of Hanukkah & Hope

"Migration," a poem by Sandra Levy

How Bend the Arc Showed Up for DACA This Week

What's a Purim?

Marni's Reflections on "Get Your People: The Role of White People in Ending Racism"

We're a Hazon Seal of Sustainability Site!

In the News

4 of our leaders were featured in the Detroit Jewish News’ “36 Under 36” this year!

Aaron Appel, Water Team Chair

Eleanor Gamalski, Community Organizer

Carly Sugar

Jackson Koeppel

What We’re Reading

Study up on the unconstitutional tax foreclosure crisis before coming to our Purim party:

Don’t Let Detroit’s Revival Rest on an Injustice” by Dr. Bernadette Atuahene

Government can stop tax foreclosure” by Michele Oberholtzer

From the DJJ community!

Restorative justice city: One woman's quest to create a more just Detroit” by Purim spiel co-author Aaron Mondry

The Structural Origins of Territorial Stigma: Water and Racial Politics in Metropolitan Detroit, 1950s–2010s by DJJ Housing Justice liaison Dana Kornberg

From around town and beyond:

Intro to Detroit Sci Fi Generator Series” by adrienne maree brown

Progressive clergy are pushing a new movement that’s unapologetically political—and deeply rooted in textual traditions” by Emma Green

Making It Happen

Like what we're doing? You make it possible! By getting involved, spreading the word, and contributing. Visit our website, social media (below), & support our work with a donation. DonateButton.png

@Detroit Jews for Justice


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