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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Updates from the Director
September 1, 2002

Dear Members and Supporters,

The Board of Directors recently held its first strategic planning retreat. Here are the decisions we made:
  1. Brit Tzedek will launch a national educational campaign calling for the establishment of an international fund to provide grants to individual settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to enable them to relocate within the Green Line (Israel proper). A recent study by Peace Now indicates that almost 60% of the settlers would accept economic compensation to leave the settlements. This campaign is designed to inform American Jews of this fact. We do not plan to raise money for such a fund ourselves. And we understand that massive humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is necessary, as well as a fund to rebuild their shattered infrastructure and communities. This campaign is a way of building pressure to evacuate the settlements by enabling a mass voluntary exodus that would totally undermine the current and any future government's ability to insist on Israeli sovereignty or control over the Occupied Territories. A FAQ on this issue will be posted shortly on our website.
  2. We will launch a campaign for inclusivity within the Jewish community, with a call to our community institutions to provide opportunities for full discussion of diverse points of view about current events in Israel. The aim of this campaign is both to open up the discussion and to demythologize the assumption that anything but 100% support for the policies of the current Israeli government threatens Israel and increases anti-Semitism.
  3. We will sponsor one or two tours of Israeli peace activists to cities in which we have chapters.
  4. We will launch an intensive membership campaign whose initial goal is to have at least 5,763 members within the next 6 months. The campaign will consist of state-of-the art outreach by email as well as direct mail, and limited advertising. You will all be hearing from us shortly with an invitation to get involved.
  5. We will hold a National Training Institute for chapter, committee and Board leadership to prepare our members for home-district advocacy, media relations, membership development, community relations and fundraising.
  6. We decided that the 2nd Annual Meeting of Brit Tzedek will be held in the spring of 2003, at a location to be determined. At that meeting, elections for Board members will be held, by-laws adopted and the work of the preceding year summed up and evaluated.
  7. We are exploring the possibility of having a presence at the General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) this November in Philadelphia. We are in the process of discussing how we might have a strategic impact on this annual gathering of tens of thousands of Jews.

We dedicated a good portion of the Board retreat to discussion and decisions about the organization's infrastructure and decision-making process, including the roles of the Board, the Executive Committee and the Director. We began discussion of chapter and committee structure, which will be completed in the weeks to come. It is our aim to build a national organization that is centralized enough to make important decisions quickly in a rapidly changing environment and democratic enough as well as to allow for input and guidance from the membership at all levels.

In addition, the Board elected its officers: Marcia Freedman, president; Cherie Brown, vice-president; Elliot Figman, treasurer; and Barry Joseph, secretary. The four officers together with the chairs of the Fundraising Committee (Meredith Tax) and the Membership Committee (Danielle Luttenberg), as well as a representative of the Public Policy Committee (Steve Masters), together with our Acting Director Aliza Becker constitute the Executive Committee. Brief biographies of the Executive Committee members are included at the end of this letter.

On another note, we regret to inform you that two members of our Board of Directors-Leah Harris and Ilise Cohen-have resigned. However, we are pleased that Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell has been voted in as a new Board member. Rabbi Elwell currently is a Regional Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations; she is based in Philadelphia. She is the Founding Director of the American Jewish Congress Feminist Center in Los Angeles and served as the first rabbinic Director of Ma'yan, the Jewish Women's Project of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, in New York. Brief biographies of the other Board members and of our Acting Director are attached.

Yours b'shalom,
Marcia Freedman, President
Aliza Becker, Acting Director

The zip code for ordering the RHR-NA material mentioned in last week's announcement should have read 19119. We regret the error.

Help Wanted
The new Wired Committee is looking for volunteers. The committee is responsible for developing and implementing Brit Tzedek's online strategy, including such things as updating our Web site, developing a new Web site (programmers, designers, copywriters and editors, etc.), managing BTvS email accounts, administrating BTvS listservs, and caring for our membership database. These are all crucial components to the smooth functioning and growth of the organization. We need a few skilled people who want to commit their time to one or more of these tasks. If you have been looking for a place to get involved with the organization, this could be the place for you. Previous experience is useful, but not required - just a commitment to learn and work with the team. If interested, please contact Barry Joseph at

Executive Committee Biographies

Marcia Freedman, president: Marcia Freedman was a founder of the Israeli feminist movement in the 1970s, and served as a Member of the Knesset from 1973-77, introducing legislation that led to the reform of the abortion law. She was also an active member of the Israeli peace movement. She is a founder of the Community School for Women and an active member of the Israel Women's Coalition for a Just Peace. She divides her time between Jerusalem and Berkeley, where she is immediate past president of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. She is the author of a memoir, Exile in the Promised Land, and many articles and reviews.

Cherie Brown, vice-president: Cherie Brown is founder and executive director of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), an anti-racist leadership training institute with chapters in 50 cities, on 75 college campuses, and in dozens of high schools. The NCBI was designated as an example of "best practice for racial reconciliation" by President Clinton's Initiative on Race. She has been involved in Middle East peace work for 34 years as a founder of Breira, New Jewish Agenda, Break the Silence, the Tikkun Community, and Brit Tzedek. She is the author of eight leadership training manuals on coalition building and diversity issues.

Elliot Figman, treasurer: Elliot Figman is the executive director of Poets and Writers, Inc., the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers. His book of poems, Big Spring, will be published by Four Way Books in the spring of 2003.

Barry Joseph, secretary: Barry Joseph, a writer, is currently a New Voices Fellow working on human rights and the Internet with Global Kids, a New York-based educational organization that does leadership training and empowerment programming with urban youth. He was a cofounder of the Alliance for Judaism and Social Justice and has been involved professionally with developing innovative new media content for the past seven years.

Danielle Luttenberg, chair of the Membership Committee: Danielle Luttenberg is currently working as an organizer for Environmental Defense in Boston, where she and her husband Alexander, a Soviet immigrant, are involved in two congregations in Brookline. She has been active as a Jew in social justice issues for many years, mostly recently as a Board member of Jews United for Justice in Washington, D.C., where she led a lead poisoning prevention campaign.

Steve Masters, member of the Advocacy/Public Policy Committee: Steve Masters is the founding general secretary of the Progressive Zionist Alliance in Philadelphia, where he has represented the Jewish Labor Committee on the Board of the Jewish Community Relations Council for seven years. He is also a Board member of Meretz USA. While living in Israel in the mid-1980s, he served as a consultant for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and founded the Jerusalem Chapter of Israelis Against Apartheid. In the early 1990s he was assistant director of the Jewish Peace Lobby.

Meredith Tax, chair of the Fundraising Committee: Meredith Tax is the president of Women's WORLD, a global free speech network of women writers with affiliates in eight countries. She has been active in the U.S. feminist movement since the late 1960s; was vice-president of PEN American Center and founding chair of the Women Writers' Committee of International PEN; she has written four books, including the novels Rivington Street and Union Square.

Aliza Becker, Acting Director: Aliza Becker has worked in the field of immigrant and refugee education and advocacy for over twenty years and has published six books on these subjects. She participated in a Jewish-Palestinian dialogue group in 1988-1992 started by her local chapter of New Jewish Agenda and founded the Chicago-based Jewish Peace Forum in the fall of 2000. Aliza has a large extended family in Israel who she visits regularly.

Brit Tzedek Board Member Biographies:

David Albert is co-moderator of Salaam-v-Shalom, an online Palestinian-Jewish dialogue group, and a PhD candidate at the University of Texas in Austin, working on a dissertation about the US and Israel.

Minnie Berman is director of a psychiatric rehabilitation treatment program in New York and an organizer of Women in Black in New York. She has been active in Jewish peace groups since the mid-1980s.

Tamara Cohen is a Jewish educator currently living in Gainesville, Florida. She has been the spiritual leader of the Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life and a consultant for Ma'yan in Manhattan.

Nicole Dannenberg Sorger is a graduate student in Arab Studies at Georgetown University. She was a student leader in NIFTY and a founding member of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel in Washington, DC.

Neal Gosman is an estate planning paralegal in Saint Paul, who has been active in various social justice movements. He is a founding member of a Reform congregation in Minnesota, and teaches Yiddish.

Ira Grupper is a labor journalist and disability rights activist in Louisville, former Vice-Chair of the Louisville and Jefferson County Human Relations Commission, and former co-chair of New Jewish Agenda.

Yossi Khen is an Israeli who served in the Suez War, and was jailed in 1973 for refusing service in the West Bank. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978, and has been active in the peace movement ever since.

Clare Kinberg is managing editor of Bridges, a Jewish feminist journal. She lives in Oregon, where she has co-founded a Middle East peace group and is active in a Reconstructionist congregation.

Irena Klepfisz is a poet, Yiddishist, and associate professor at Barnard. She was Executive Director of New Jewish Agenda 1988-1993 and co-founded the Jewish Women's Committee to End the Occupation.

Richard Kohl is a consultant on international economic development. He was an advisor to the State Dept in the first Bush administration and recently returned to the US after ten years at the OECD in Paris.

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian serves as a Reconstructionist Rabbi in Copenhagen and a Jewish educator in Chicago, where she is a member of Rabbis for Human Rights and the Chicago Jewish Peace Forum.

Penny Rosenwasser has led four women's peace delegations to Israel and the West Bank; she is active in Women in Black, a Jewish Voice for Peace, and the National Women's Studies Association.

Rabbi David Seidenberg is a founding member of Pursue the Peace in Seattle, whose dissertation at the Jewish Theological Seminary focused on the connections between Kabbalah and ecology.

Donna Spiegelman is active in the Boston District Workers' Circle/Arbeter Ring , co founder of Boston Women in Black, and a Professor of Epidemiologic Methods at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Alana Suskin is in her fifth year at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and is a founding member of Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace.

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