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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Updates from the Director
December 30, 2002

Dear Members and Supporters,

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, is ending the year on a very positive note. I am pleased to share with you our many successes in November and December.

Our first electronic member recruitment campaign during Chanukah was a tremendous success. Many of you sent us your own customized letters and posted the campaign on your websites and electronic newsletters. Brit Tzedek gained more than 450 new members, which testifies both to the relevance and appeal of our message and the power of the Internet in building our membership.

The national Advocacy and Public Policy Committee has begun to issue a regular series of Action Alerts to which you are responding in growing numbers. In addition, the Committee is currently working on a draft of our national campaign, a Call to Bring the Settlers Home. The "Call" will soon be ready for dissemination as a petition to the U.S. government. We have also begun exploring the possibilities of working jointly with other Jewish peace organizations to promote this campaign. You'll soon be hearing more about this important initiative.

An exciting weekend is in store for participants in the National Leadership Training Institute, to be held in Washington, D.C., January 31-February 3. Visit the Brit Tzedek web site at http://www.btvshalom.orgto learn more about the agenda and curriculum. We have secured funding to partially subsidize many of those who need financial assistance in order to attend, and there are 40 slots still open. Following the Training Institute we will be ready to launch the Inclusivity Initiative as well as to begin home-district lobbying in support of the Call to Bring the Settlers Home. We hope you'll think about attending, but we need to hear from you right away by phone (773-583-5747) or e-mail in order to reserve a place.

Brit Tzedek's visible participation in the General Assembly (in Philadelphia, November 19-21) was the first step in our Inclusivity Initiative, a campaign to reclaim the Jewish communal tradition of welcoming and providing space for a multitude of voices and opinions about community concerns - including those about the situation in the Middle East and Israeli government policy. Our reception was well attended and we had a steady stream of visitors to our suite. Board president Marcia Freedman and vice-president Cherie Brown had numerous interviews with the Jewish press. Sincere thanks goes to Brit Tzedek's national Media Committee for their very successful effort to get us on the radar screen of the Jewish press. Read more about Brit Tzedek's GA experience on our web site at our "whats new" section.

Brit Tzedek Board President, Marcia Freedman, visited with chapter steering committees and held public events organized by them in New Haven (CT), Burlington and Montpelier (VT), Philadelphia, and Boston. Her talk at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven resulted in two favorable newspaper articles and radio coverage [click here]. At the University of Vermont, Marcia was introduced by the mayor of Burlington, who is a warm supporter of our work. The board president of the Reconstructionist movement attended Marcia's talk in Philadelphia and expressed interest in possible collaboration.

In Boston Marcia spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 150 people. Of them, 40 were already members, 45 joined on the spot, and most of the rest signed up for additional info! The next day Marcia and four members of the Boston chapter met with members of the local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). While in Boston, Marcia also met with Americans for Peace Now president and CEO Debra DeLee and former APN executive director, Gail Pressburg. The meeting was an important milestone in the beginnings of a cooperative and collaborative relationship between our organizations.

RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS TOUR SPONSORED BY CHICAGO AND NEW HAVEN CHAPTERS Our Chicago and New Haven (CT) chapters organized successful events with Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) in November. Founded in 1988, Rabbis for Human Rights is an organization of Israeli rabbis committed to defending the human rights of everyone in Israel and in the territories under Israeli control. The New Haven Brit Tzedek v'Shalom chapter and Congregation Mishkan Israel's Social Action Committee co-sponsored a talk by Rabbi David Forman, founder of RHR, which drew 80 people. The Chicago chapter co-sponsored two events with RHR Executive Director and Brit Tzedek Israeli Advisory Committee member Rabbi Arik Ascherman. The Erev Shabbat service at Beth Emet, The Free Synagogue, and Potluck Shabbat "Lunch and Learn" at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation of Evanston (IL) drew more then 300 attendees.

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian, co-chair of our new Campus Committee and board member, staffed a Brit Tzedek table at this annual national conference of Jewish campus professionals on December 16-17 in Princeton, New Jersey. Rebecca's many years of experience working for Hillel enabled her to network with many of her former colleagues who are interested in obtaining resources and speakers from Brit Tzedek. She also established contact with several shlichim (visiting Israeli educators who are seeking American partners for campus programs.)

Are you a college student or a do you work or teach in a university setting? Do you have children who are college students and are around over winter break? The new Brit Tzedek Campus Committee is seeking motivated and committed individuals to join us in strengthening pro-Israel, anti-occupation voices and work on college campuses. This is a key arena for Brit Tzedek work and we believe we can make a real difference if we have the people power to make things happen. Share your stories, let us know what is happening on your campus and what Brit Tzedek can do for and with you. If interested, please contact the Campus Committee Chair, Tamara Cohen, at

The Brit Tzedek Wired Committee is looking for someone to assist with transcribing our digital audio recordings of important public events, speeches, and presentations by members of the Executive Committee. These transcriptions are not for our historical records but to help us produce content for our Web site and create material to assist in building the local chapters.

We are looking for someone who works on a PC with a speedy Internet connection who can volunteer at least two hours a week to transcribing these audio files as they come in over the next three months. The individual can be new to transcription but needs to be detail- oriented, a good editor, and a good typist. There is a possibility that automatic transcription software can be utilized to significantly speed up the process. The will play a crucial role in helping our decentralized organization popularize the voices within our movement. If interested, please contact the Wired Committee Chair, Barry Joseph, at

We are pleased to let you know about a new project being sponsored by the Bereaved Families Forum--"Hello, Salaam! Hello, Shalom! Hello, Peace!" If you're in Israel, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, now you can just pick up your phone at no cost and talk to someone on the other side about reconciliation, tolerance and peace. You can find more details at
If you have any questions about Brit Tzedek activities, please e-mail us at Also, please let us know if you have a new snail mail or email address so we can stay in touch.

Thanks for your continued support! Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year.

Aliza Becker, Acting Director

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