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Participant Testimonials from the Grassroots Leadership Training Institute and National Advocacy Days 2008
“Having just returned from a year in Israel where half my family lives, I came to the conference with a question: how could I, from the US, sincerely engage the place that I feel so close to while positively confronting its existential flaws? The Brit Tzedek conference and advocacy days took me a step forward in answering this question. Both the substance of the message (progress towards peace and a two state solution is good for Israel, Palestine, and the region) and the tone (we speak from a place of caring commitment) felt right to me. I left motivated to try and use advocacy to realize change in the region.”
- Shira Levine from Ann Arbor, MI
“Every legislator and aide I met with from both parties, agreed 100% with Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's positions, and asked to be contacted when we needed them to co-sponsor a letter or legislation. We were welcomed with open arms. Advocacy Days were very rewarding; I want to do this again and again.”
- Howie Schneider, Aptos, CA
“I was blown away by the success of the program. From being welcomed to a small group discussion Sat. evening to having my comments valued at every turn, I felt a part of a multigenerational community of dedicated activists.
Each workshop I attended was crafted to both engage those with experience as well as integrate those who were new to Brit Tzedek. Group leaders timed their sessions to allow for questions and comments from all, and even were not afraid to share about their failures, in order that others could learn from them.
Hearing Yossi Belin speak on Sunday evening was so energizing. I was so inspired by his life long dedication and love for his country - it truly made me connect to Israel in a whole new way. Here's a guy who is in the Knesset - and he thinks like me! No more do I have to fret that my stance on Israel is un-Jewish or anti-Israel. It's one thing to be a lefty American, but yet another to have a hero in the Israeli government.
Monday was spectacular. As Brit Tzedek leaders talked about the history of Brit Tzedek advocacy, I felt like they spoke straight to me and said: Sarah, you matter. Your voice makes a difference. Your presence here is vital. Your existence on this earth can change the world. I was pumped and ready for a day on the hill.
And yet, somehow, the day just got better and better! We were treated to an interactive workshop on how to make the most of our meetings with the staffers of our local reps. Each of us was empowered to take a role - and I was even promoted to group leader, even though this was a completely new experience. By the time we got to the reception in Rayburn lobby, I was jumping into conversations left and right with every staffer and intern I could rope into a conversation. From a local Brooklynite to two interns from Alabama, it was the perfect setting to finally practice my Brit Tzedek position pitch. I felt so alive - and so united with my brothers and sisters in that room. Look at us - we're having wine and cheese and working for peace and justice in Israel!
By Tuesday morning I was calm, collected, and ready to speak my mind. I spoke passionately and was rewarded when staffers commented: "Thank you for the work you do. We don't have enough staff to study these issues and we depend on groups like you to share this information with us."
Walking by beautiful magnolia trees and standing witness to the iconic capitol and surroundings, I have never been more proud to be an American. Thank you, Brit Tzedek, for this life-changing opportunity.”
- Sarah Chandler, Brooklyn, NY
"I feel so empowered from both Brit Tzedek's Grassroots Leadership Training Institute and National Advocacy Days. It was amazing to be around so many like-minded, peaceful people, seeking Congress' support for a peaceful solution in support of Israel. To learn that our organization is so young, and yet so effective, gives me hope for the future of both the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I know that I will use the experience and education I received to both continue working towards Brit Tzedek's goal and also to recruit other members so that our numbers swell and our mission is acheived. Thank you to all of Brit Tzedek for the tireless work you do!"