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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Bloomington Chapter Activities

Who We Are

We are a group of Jews from across the Bloomington, Indiana community who gathered together to articulate a vision for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We represent a diverse spectrum of Jews, from secular to religious. We are guided by deeply held Jewish values. Some of us think of them in terms of seeking an ethical solution that provides social justice for all. Others among us are guided by reverence for the sacredness of life and the prophetic vision of nations living together under a canopy of peace and mutual respect.

We are committed to Israel as a place where people can live safe and meaningful lives, free from the fear of violence and prejudice; we are equally committed to the creation of a Palestinian state that affords the same to its people.

In March 2003, we decided to become a Chapter of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, to add our voices to a national movement of Jewish-Americans for peace.

“Our work in BTVS has brought us — unaffiliated and affiliated, observant and secular — together to express our mutual commitment to peace.”

Join us! We meet a few times a month on Sunday mornings to discuss issues and to plan programs and actions. For more information, to get on our mailing list, or to get involved, contact Sue Swartz, and find out what you can do today.

Join Us This Year In Washington for Advocacy Days! Feel free to contact me, Sue Swartz, for more information or for how you can be more involved.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Congregation Beth Shalom
3750 E 3rd St

Will Change in America Bring Change to the Middle East?  Conversation on Gaza, Obama, the Israeli elections, and the prospects for peace.  

Speakers include:  Shaul Magid: Professor, Religious Studies & Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Chair, Jewish Studies, Abdulkader Sinno: Assistant Professor, Political Science & Middle Eastern Studies, Dina Spechler: Associate Professor, Political Science & Jewish Studies, and Dror Wahrman: Jewish Studies & Ruth N. Halls Professor of History

For more information contact us by email.


Past Events


Tuesday, September 23
Monroe County Public Library
303 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington

Brit Tzedek V’Shalom will be showing the film Encounter Point

Join us Tuesday for a FREE film and conversation.  Emaill Julie Bloom or call her at 339-9146 with any questions.  

Sunday, June 1
Beth Shalom Sanctuary
3750 E. Third St., Bloomington

Brit Tzedek V’Shalom and Congregation Beth Shalom will be showing the film Encounter Point

Join us Sunday evening for a FREE film and conversation.  Emaill Julie Bloom or call her at 339-9146 with any questions.  

March 2 , 2008
7:00 PM
Congregation Beth Shalom

“2008: Will This Year Bring Us Any Closer to Israeli-Palestinian Peace?”

Pierre Atlas: Middle East expert, Director of The Richard G. Lugar Franciscan Center for Global Studies at Marian College, and opinion columnist for The Indianapolis Star
Dror Wahrman: Ruth N. Halls Professor of History & Jewish Studies at IU/Bloomington

For more information please email

October 28, 2007
7:30 PM
Banneker Community Center
930 W 7th Street

Voces Novae Chamber Choir and The Moroccan Andalusian Classical Orchestra will perform “Hospitality and the Mystical Guest”

Please come and enjoy this 30-minute performance with us, which will be followed by a reception.  The event is free and open to all.

Co-sponsored by Bloomington United, City of Bloomington Safe and Civil City Program, Community Justice and Mediation, Mennonite Fellowship, Muslims for Peace and Justice, Peace and Social Concerns Committee of the Bloomington Monthly Meeting, and Shalom Community Center.

For more information please contact the Bloomington Chapter.

Monday, October 8, 2007
7:30 PM
Congregation Beth Shalom
3750 E 3rd St
Bloomington, IN 47401

Israel at Almost-60: An Unconventional Travelogue

Join Sue Swartz & Bruce Solomon for an informal evening of photographs and stories of daily life and politics in Israel & the West Bank, gathered during their 6-month sabbatical in Haifa.

Fore more information please contact the Bloomington Chapter.

Wednesday March 20, 2007, 7:30 PM

Panel discussion: "The Perils of Jewish Identity: Israel, Anti-Semitism and Legitimate Dissent in Contemporary American Jewry"
Woodburn Hall 009 on the campus of Indiana University, Bloomington
Participants will be: Kathyrn Lofton, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies and American Studies, Michael Morgan, Chancellor Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Shaul Magid, Jay and Jeannie Associate Professor of Modern Judaism, Department of Religious Studies, and Robert Schneider, Professor, Department of History and Editor, American Historical Review.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, IUB, and the Bloomington chapter of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, and is free and open to the public.

Sunday, October 29, 2006, 7:00 PM
Voces Novae Chamber Choir presents the premier of "Convivencia" by John Rommereim
Join Brit Tzedek for the premier of John Rommereim’s choral piece "Convivencia," performed by Voces Novae Chamber Choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2120 N. Fee Lane, Bloomington. "Convivencia" is a 25-minute piece for chorus, string quartet, and harp which celebrates the period of the 12th century in Spain when Mulims, Jews and Christians coexisted in relative harmony. After the performance there will be desserts and discussion. This program is sponsored by Bloomington Friends Meeting, Bloomington Muslims and Jews for Peace and Justice, Brit-Tzedek v'Shalom, COEXIST, St. Paul's Catholic Center, and Voces Novae Chamber Choir.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006, 7:30 PM
Round Table Discussion on Lebanonat IUB
Join Brit Tzedek Bloomington for the faculty discussion on the recent war in Lebanon taking place at IUB in Woodburn Hall, Room 100. The panelists are Professors Ilya Harik and Abdulkader Sinno, of the Political Science Department, Professor Saul Magid, from the Borns Department of Jewish Studies, and Professor Dror Wahrman, from the Department of History. Professor Michael Hamburger, Associate Dean of Faculties, will preside. This event is sponsored by the Departments of Jewish Studies, History, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

July 20, 2006
Brit Tzedek Bloomington Chapter Meeting
The steering committee of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom invites you to an informal discussion for members of the Jewish community where we will hear some background information on the Middle East situation from Dror Wahrman, an Israeli involved in politics, a professor of history at IU and previous speaker at BT events. After that, there will be time for discussion. All opinions and perspectives are welcome. We will gather at the home of Jenny Bass & Michael Hamburger. If you would like to bring dessert, feel free! For directions and more information please email Sue Swartz. If you can't make it, but would like to participate in other discussions or events, please email us so that our steering committee can plan accordingly.

April 29, 2006
A Land Twice Promised: Performance by Noa Baum Please join us for a special performance of this one-woman show written and performed by Israeli storyteller Noa Baum. Baum grew up in Jerusalem, but while living more recently in the U.S., began a heartfelt dialogue with a Palestinian woman. In A Land Twice Promised, she weaves both their memories, and their mothers’ stories together to create a moving testimony of the complex and contradictory history and emotions surrounding Jerusalem for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Baum has performed A Land Twice Promised across Israel and the U.S., and by all reports leaves her audiences deeply moved. We are very excited about bringing her here. For more on A Land Twice Promised please visit Noa's website:, and for more information and directions, please contact

March 25, 2006
Shabbat Luncheon - Please join us on Saturday at 1:00pm for lunch and discussion about the Palestinian elections. We will do a little education about the election as well as give people a chance to talk about their concerns considering the Hamas situation. For more information and directions, please contact Sue Swartz.

March 7, 2006
LAND OF THE SETTLERS: VIDEO DIARY OF A WORRIED ISRAELI JOURNALIST - 7:30pm, Congregation Beth Shalom, 3750 E. 3rd Street. In Spring 2005, an Israeli television network aired a 6-part documentary on West Bank settlements. The documentary by Chaim Yavin, “the Walter Cronkite of Israeli television,” is travelogue, news report, and personal exploration combined. Please join us for a viewing of excerpts from the first 2 episodes (with English subtitles). Because some of the material is controversial and disturbing, we will have time for small-group discussion. For more information please email us.

February 16, 2006
EARTHQUAKE? HAMAS AND THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI PREDICAMENT - Abdul Sinno (Political Science department) and Shaul Magid (Religious Studies department) will talk about the role of Hamas in Palestinian society, the elections and their aftermath, and the conflict within Israeli society. Mark your calendars now - and please join us!

January 8, 2006
BRUNCH, PRESENTATION, & SCHMOOZING - Please join us at 10:00am for a general discussion on how we can continue our work over the next year. In addition, Amy Jackson, a Bloomington resident and staff member of Netanya Academic College in Israel, will share her observations and experiences with us from the conference she attended in Israel in memory of Yitzhak Rabin this past November. To RSVP please contact Julie Bloom. We'll have bagels and other brunch foods available, but if you want to bring something to share, let us know that as well. As always, feel free to invite friends...

September 25, 2005
An evening with Dr. Pierre Atlas, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Franciscan Center for Global Studies at Marian College, as well as Associate Fellow for the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research; a regular opinion columnist for the Indianapolis Star; and a noted Mideast scholar. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, and is a past-Vice President of the Bureau of Jewish Education. A dessert reception will follow Dr. Atlas’ presentation & a discussion period.

Yesterday’s Indianapolis Star includes an opinion piece by Dr. Atlas on the next steps following Gaza withdrawal: [read article]

June 1, 2005
A delegation of Brit Tzedek chapter activists met with high-ranking staff members of Representative Sodrel and Senator Lugar during Brit Tzedek's national advocacy weeks. The chapter chair will also be attending meetings in Washington DC. To find out how you can become involved in the chapter’s advocacy activities send an email.

March 6, 2005
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and the Refuser Solidarity Network presented a house meeting with IDF Pilot Refuser, Yonatan Shapira, in Indianapolis. 2:30-4:00pm. For more information, send an email.

Shapira also appeared at Congregation Beth Shalom, 3750 E. Third Street, Bloomington at 7:30pm. For more information, contact us.

February 14, 2005
Peace With Love Representatives of Breaking the Ice - a Palestinian/Israeli team that climbed Mount Everest - spoke about their adventures. 6:00pm on the IU campus. Co-sponsored by IU Hillel, Bloomington Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, and others.

November 7, 2004
Former Member of Knesset, Naomi Chazan spoke at Congregation Beth Shalom, 3750 E. 3rd Street at 7:00pm. This event was co-sponsored by Bloomington Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, MeretzUSA, and Congregation Beth Shalom.
Press coverage.

January 8, 2004
Panelists discussed the Geneva Accord - their thoughts on the content, the practicalities, its reception in Israel, and the overall significance of the Accords at Congregation Beth Shalom, 3750 E. 3rd Street. Moderator: Steve Weitzman, Director of Jewish Studies, Indiana University. Panelists: Jeff Isaac (Political Science), Dina Spechler (Political Science) & Dror Wahrman (History).

December 2003
In honor of the signing of the Geneva Accords on December 1, the Bloomington Chapter mailed a summary of the Accords and a piece of Swiss chocolate (“the sweet taste of peace”) to members of the Jewish community in the area.

October 20, 2003
Israel's Road to Peace: The Role of American Jews
Marcia Freedman, Former Member of Knesset and President of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

September 8, 2003
Voices Fom Israel & The Territories
Madi Hirschland and Larry Moss, active members of the Bloomington Jewish community, will share stories and experiences from their visit to the Middle East. Included are excerpts from interviews with Palestinians and Israelis on their views on the settlements, the construction of the fences in the occupied territories, and prospects for peace.
Their travels included Jerusalem, Petach Tikva, Qalqilyaa, Ramallah, Hebron, Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam, and a Bedouin encampment. 7:30pm Congregation Beth Shalom, 3750 E. 3rd Street.

May 19, 2003
The Road Map: Will It Lead to Peace?
An informal evening with Indiana University Professors Jeff Isaac and Dina Spechler (Department of Political Science, Indiana University) and Dror Wahrman (Department of History). 7:30 PM Congregation Beth Shalom, Bloomington.
“If Not Now, When?” — An analysis of the Israeli elections and the prospects for peace... Aliza Becker, Executive Director of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace (based in Chicago) Dror Wahrman, Department of History, Indiana University and Israeli Citizen Ron Sela, Central Eurasion Studies and Israeli Citizen.

Contacting Bloomington Congressional Representatives
Contact our Representatives and urge them to insist that Prime Minister Sharon stop construction of the Security Wall on West Bank territory and immediately freeze all settlement expansion. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
(202) 224-5623
[Web Form]

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
(202) 224-4814

Rep Baron Hill, (D- 9th District)
1024 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-5315 (phone)
(202) 226-6866 (fax)
["Write Your Representative" website]

Local Press Coverage
  • The Herald-Times
    Letter to the Editor
    February 5, 2009
    I am Jewish. I am a founding member of Congregation Beth Shalom. I have supported charities in Israel all of my adult life. My daughter spent a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and my husband and I and our children lived in Israel for a year.

  • The Herald-Times
    The Jewish Response to Hamas Should Require “A Clear Sense of Intended Goal”
    April 2, 2006
    Sometimes when things seem the clearest, they are the most complex. Such is the case with the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections.
  • The Herald-Times
    Work Toward Peace
    November 8, 2005
    We condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad for his recent outrageous statements calling for "Israel to be wiped off the map." In this, we echo our national group, Brit Tzedek v´Shalom, a grassroots organization of American Jews who support a negotiated two–state solution to the Mideast conflict.

  • Indiana Daily Student
    Knesset speaker: Disengage Naomi Chazan Says Palestinian State Necessary for Peace
    November 8, 2004
    A former deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset urged local Jews Sunday to support an independent Palestinian state as an answer to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

  • Indiana Herald-Times
    'Now is the time' Former member of Israeli Knesset sees chance for peace in Middle East
    November 8, 2004
    Chazan noted that change is coming rapidly because of three distinct issues: the failing health of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat; the re-election of President George W. Bush and his push for the "Road Map" to peace and a separate and democratic Palestinian state; and Israeli President Ariel Sharon's recent policy for disengagement in the Gaza Strip.

  • Indiana Daily Student
    Former Envoy Discusses Middle East Peace Process
    October 21, 2004
    The barrier to peace in the Middle East is separated by more than a wall-like fence. That's what Dennis Ross, former U.S. envoy to the Middle East and author of "The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace," lectured to the campus community Wednesday night in the Willkie Auditorium.

  • Discussing Israel: Reflections after a Trip to Israel and the Territories
    My family and I recently traveled to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We went because we long for peace and believe that American Jews have an important role to play in helping resolve the conflict - but that this requires understanding both sides more completely. So, we went to see and hear what Americans usually do not see and hear: how "regular" Israelis and Palestinians experience the situation.

  • Indiana Herald-Times
    Guest Editorial
    December 19, 2003
    This guest column was submitted by Julie Bloom and Sue Swartz, co-chairs of the Bloomington chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom/The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.

  • Shana Ritter, member of Bloomington's Brit Tzedek chapter, interview with Brit Tzedek president Marcia Freedman for WFIU.
    Listen to the interview.

  • Indiana Herald-Times
    Speaker opposed to policies of Israeli leader
    October 21, 2003
    Marcia Freedman said no one should question her loyalty to the state of Israel.

  • HoosierTimes
    Local Jews, Muslims Point Way toward Respect, Peace and Unity
    April 22, 2003
    Seek options for equitable peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Local paper reports on the development of the Indiana Chapter.

  • Indiana Herald-Times
    Local Jews, Muslims Point Way toward Respect, Peace and Unity
    December 4, 2002
    What can Bloomington offer to the Jews and Arabs living in constant conflict? A powerful lesson that people of different cultures and religions can come together in peace and understanding.
  • Last Year in Washington

    Report from Washington, DC
    Friends / Chevra:

    A week ago, three of us from Indiana (Bruce Solomon, Rabbi Lew Weiss, and myself) spent two days on Capitol Hill with eighty other Brit Tzedek v'Shalom members as part BT's annual Advocacy Days. There were eighty five in attendance from around the country and we had a total of sixty meetings with Congresspeople. What follows is a description of our activities.


    Two veteran activists – Lara Friedman from Americans for Peace Now & MJ Rosenberg from Israel Policy Forum – opened the gathering with an extremely encouraging message:
    • it is a very exciting time to be building grassroots efforts on this issue
    • the pro-Israel, pro-peace message is taken seriously and respected in Congress
    • our organizing creates the room in Congress for nuanced and thoughtful legislation.

    Jeremy Rabinowitz from Representative Lois Capps' office added that Brit Tzedek's work this year – our full-time Washington staff person (Rob Levy), our calls and letters in home districts around the country, our appearance in mainstream and Jewish press as well as the Congressional Record – has made a real difference on the issue.

    Although the House passed the Ros-Lehtinen/Lantos Bill (which we opposed due to its anti-humanitarian aid/anti-peace process content) by an overwhelming majority, the speakers noted that the debate on this bill was the most serious policy discussion on the Middle East ever held on the floor of the House. Calls for and against the legislation were running 50-50, a sea change from years past when only one perspective was heard from the Jewish community.


    Our conversation centered around 4 main points:
    1. Congress should call for serious U.S. diplomatic engagement with President Mahmoud Abbas and other moderate Palestinians. Now is the time to support such a move before violence escalates even further (and let?s hope it isn?t too late.)
    2. We oppose the idea of legislation that punishes the Palestinian people for their democratic vote and severely limits any possibility of a return to negotiations.
    3. We oppose cuts in humanitarian aide and support, instead, a policy of providing such aid to the Palestinian people with appropriate safeguards to ensure such funds are not used for terrorist activities (which is already in U.S. law)
    4. We believe that unilateral initiatives – such as Israeli Prime Minister Olmert?s "convergence plan" – that prejudge negotiations or preclude the creation of a viable Palestinian state will not lead to security and a lasting peace.

    We asked each Senator and Representative if they would publicly come out in favor of diplomatic engagement, and to support the Senate?s over the House?s version of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (see below for more details).


    The three of us, as the Indiana delegation, met with staff members from Senator Lugar & Senator Bayh's offices. We also sat in on meetings with Senator Debbie Stabenow (Michigan) and Representative John Lewis (Georgia).

    Senator Lugar was one of the few Senators not to co-sponsor S. 2370 on principle, as he believes that we should be actively involved in diplomacy and not limiting any openings in the peace process. Consequently, his office was quietly involved in re-working the more onerous portions of the original legislation and adding a $20 million "Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Reconciliation, and Democracy Fund".

    Because Senator Lugar is the Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, we were privileged to meet in the Committee's Hearing Room (which we've all seen on CSPAN or TV news) with his Chief Counsel and another senior staff member. They encouraged us to keep providing them with information on this issue, and to consider the Senator an ally. They also cautioned us to expect significant battles once the Senate and House bills go to conference committee.

    Senator Bayh's staff member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence assured us that the Senator was a friend of Israel, and that he appreciated our activism. He said that the Senator supported the Senate legislation, but that as a Democrat, he could not play a real role in the conference committee deliberations.

    Senator Bayh believes that the U.S. should be a leader in the Middle East – that negotiations are preferable to unilateral action, and if formal negotiations aren't possible, then the parties might begin coordinating on projects of mutual interest. There needs to be more U.S. engagement and support for NGOs (non-governmental organizations), an a serious attempt to revive the Palestinian economy. Finally, although intelligence reports indicate that the Israeli security wall does minimize attacks on Israel, the placement of the wall should be as close to the 1967 line as possible and consistent with Palestinian viability.

    At the end of the day, when reports were given from our 60 different legislative meetings, we heard over and over again how appreciative many Senators and Representatives were for our perspective, our thoughtfulness, and our presence. It was exhilarating to be part of this organization!


    On Friday, June 23rd, the Senate passed S. 2370, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, by unanimous consent. The amended Senate bill is a marked improvement over H.R. 4681, the House version of the legislation that passed last month. It gives the President greater discretion in promoting a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, allows humanitarian aid to flow more freely, and supports moderate Palestinian leaders that are not affiliated with Hamas.

    The changes to the final Senate version address many of the concerns and recommendations advocated for by Brit Tzedek, our allies, and the US State Department. Most likely, the legislation will head to a conference committee, where Senate and House legislators will hammer out the major differences between the two bills. It is also possible that the House could simply pick up and pass the Senate language, that neither bill will become law, or that some version of either could be tacked on to a must-pass appropriations bill.

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