REPORT FROM THE GROUND: BRIT TZEDEK ON THE MOVE
Common wisdom holds that the languid summer months followed by the business of the High Holidays make for a prolonged slowdown in the life of Jewish organizations. Not so Brit Tzedek! Our activists have been busy educating, advocating, and organizing throughout. Here are some highlights of our recent grassroots efforts on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
BRIT TZEDEK AT THE J STREET CONFERENCE
Brit Tzedek supporters will join 1000 other activists from around the country in Washington DC October 25-28. We’ve got a full schedule of sessions, meals, and a party for attendees:
Monday night, Oct. 28:
Reception to celebrate Brit Tzedek activists at 8 pm.
Tuesday, Oct. 29:
Brit Tzedek Session: „The Power of Grassroots Organizing: A Political Force for the Pro- Israel, Pro-Peace Movement“ at 9 a.m.
Brit Tzedek Rabbinic Cabinet Session: „Dancing on the Head of a Pin: The Role of Rabbis in the Pro-Peace Movement“ at 10:30 a.m.
Rabbinic Cabinet luncheon at 12 noon. (For pre-registered clergy.)
|Steve Masters, President, Ed Asner, Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater, Secretary|
BRIT TZEDEK IN HOLLYWOOD
Actor and political activist Ed Asner headlined September 5, alongside Brit Tzedek President Steve Masters, at a reception on behalf of Brit Tzedek in Pasadena, CA at the home of Joanne Topol, daughter of longtime peace activist and Brit Tzedek board member Sid Topol.
ON THE STAFF FRONT….
Interim Executive Director Diane Balser stepped down in July to give her full attention to her teaching duties at Boston University, but continues with Brit Tzedek in a consultant capacity. Longtime Deputy Director Aliza Becker has taken over as Interim Executive Director.
|Wednesday, October 21
55 Lincoln Street, Lexington
|Thursday, October 22
Temple Beth Abraham
1301 Washington Street, Canton
|Friday, October 23
6 pm (as part of services)
Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street, Brookline
DR. IZZELDEIN ABUELAISH IN BOSTON AREA
Brit Tzedek chapters throughout the country have been organizing public events and private meetings with physician and peace advocate Dr. Izzeldein Abuelaish. On January 16 of this year, during the Gaza war, three of his daughters, and a niece, were killed when Israeli tank shells shattered his house in the Jabalaya camp, hours after he appeared — by teleconference — at a Pittsburgh chapter community meeting.
This week, the Boston chapter is co-sponsoring „Bridging Gaza and Israel: A Palestinian Physician’s Quest to Heal Israeli-Palestinian Relations“ with Dr. Abuelaish.
Brit Tzedek’s vision of a negotiated peace was featured in 3 High Holiday opinion pieces penned by members of our Rabbinic Cabinet.
Rabbi John Friedman, Chair of Brit Tzedek’s Rabbinic Cabinet and national Board member, urged readers of Boston’s Jewish Advocate to heed the Torah’s call to „seek peace and pursue it“.
The New York Jewish Week published Rabbinic Cabinet member Brant Rosen’s piece on one of the holiday season’s key lessons, namely „that that it’s never too late for reconciliation: between humanity and God, between loved ones, between bitter enemies.“
Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater, Brit Tzedek’s national secretary, wrote of the need for concerted action in the Middle East and by American Jews in the L.A. Jewish Journal.
HOME DISTRICT ADVOCACY
During the summer Congressional recess our chapters held 20 advocacy meetings, bringing the Brit Tzedek message to elected Representatives right in their home districts from Rochester, New York to Eugene, Oregon and places in between.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) was so impressed by the visit with our New York City chapter delegation that she asked Brit Tzedek to organize a presentation for the entire Hispanic Caucus. Brit Tzedek is jointly organizing just such an event with J Street, to take place some time after next week’s J Street Conference.
The Chicago chapter met with newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) (who replaced Rahm Emanuel) just days after his return from a one-day trip to Gaza. Chapter activists were able to listen to and address issues raised by his trip and provide him with resources immediately prior to his AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel the following week.
BRIT TZEDEK SUPPORTS THE ISRAELI CONSUL
In August, there was concern that Nadav Tamir, Israeli Consul General in Boston, would be recalled for an internal memo outlining how Israeli inaction around peace-making might strain its relationship with the U.S. The Boston chapter was one of the first Jewish groups to come out in support of Tamir, both within the Jewish community and the Boston-area media.
Bay Area members of the BT Rabbinic Cabinet and our Bay Area Chapter leaders held a meeting with the local Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor. The meeting was „remarkably honest“ and „all participants look forward to future conversations.“
|“It was very energizing
to feel a part or a real,
-Gerry Magnes, Albany
|„I came away with a
lots of good ideas to
present to my chapter.”
Portland Chapter activist
SUMMER GRASSROOTS TRAINING INSTITUTE
One of the high points of our grassroots summer came in late July. Fifty Brit Tzedek activists from across the country gathered in Chicago for an intensive organizer training program featuring nationally renowned political organizer and grassroots strategist Heather Booth. There were hands-on sessions on everything from local fundraising and one-on-one conversations to home district advocacy and the ABCs of the Jewish community. Our closing session featured a dialogue between Jeremy Ben-Ami and then Executive Director Diane Balser on the past, present, and future of the pro-Israel pro-peace movement. It was truly an amazing and inspiring 2 days, and participants returned to their communities revved up to organize!
|Donna Spiegelman, Boston Chapter Co-Chair and National Membership and Outreach Committee Chair||(l to r) Ivan Handler, Ariela Lazar, Bill Dolnick, Jeff Kulp, Michael Peshkin||(l to r) Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director, J Street, Diane Balser,
former Executive Director, Brit Tzedek
Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206