DC Office Chalks Up Legislative Success in First Weeks and San
Francisco to Launch Regional Conference Series
Advocacy Comes Home for the Holidays; Brit Tzedek Welcomes
Cleveland Chapter, Young Rhode Island Chapter Makes a Splash;
Diane Balser Tours Midwest, Northeast; and Los Angeles Chapter
Welcomes Just Vision
Committee News: Rabbinic Cabinet Takes Off
and Calling All Students!
Staff News: Washington Representative
Appointed to Coordinate Advocacy Efforts
Brit Tzedek in the
DC Office Chalks Up Legislative Success in its First
As our esteemed president, Marcia Freedman,
likes to tell people, "Brit Tzedek is always running to catch up
with itself." True to form, Brit Tzedek's new Washington office
opened its doors on December 5th amidst a major push on Capitol
Hill to gather support for an all-too-rare pro-peace
Congressional initiative, in the form of a letter to Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice.
to Secretary Rice [Read], sponsored by Reps. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and
Lois Capps (D-CA.) and signed by 108 Members of
Congress, commended her role in brokering an
Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the Rafah border crossing and
encouraged her to stay personally involved in the peace process.
The letter notes that Rice's leadership "helps reassure Israel
and her people of the United States's enduring commitment to
Israel's welfare and security, as Israel takes risks for the
sake of peace."
Rob Levy [Bio], who leads the
new Brit Tzedek office's efforts to bring the voice of our
30,000-strong network to Capitol Hill, hit the ground running by
spearheading a mass mobilization in support of the Hyde-Capps
letter. An action alert to Brit Tzedek's listserv rallied
supporters to call, email, and meet with their congressional
representatives to urge them to sign the letter.
Every member of Congress then received a letter from the new
office in support of this legislative initiative, followed by
personal emails and phone calls to targeted congressional staff.
[Read media coverage of our
Next, the Washington
office guided a national grassroots effort in which Brit Tzedek
members contacted 181 different congressional offices across the
country. Many received personal notes or calls from
congressional staff acknowledging the impact of these calls. In
Washington state, where Brit Tzedek has two chapters, 5 of the 9
members of the congressional delegation added their names to the
letter, with Rep. Richard Larsen's office confirming that
contact with Brit Tzedek members was a key factor in his
last-minute decision to back the effort. Similarly, in Kansas,
board member and Kansas City chapter leader Allan Abrams
successfully solicited the support of Rep. Dennis Moore when the
congressman spoke at Abrams' synagogue. In Massachusetts, where
Brit Tzedek has three chapters, 8 of the 10 members of the
congressional delegation signed on.
by this legislative success, the opening of a Washington office
represents a major step forward for Brit Tzedek's advocacy
efforts. The new office will continue to develop
relationships with members of Congress, the Bush administration,
and their respective staff and serve as an onsite resource on
pending legislation. It will also coordinate grassroots
advocacy in Brit Tzedek chapters across the country--providing
legislative updates, talking points, advocacy strategies, and
follow-up with congressional offices in the
the years have consistently shown that the majority of American
Jews support active US engagement in the peace process, and so
it is very encouraging to see Congress follow suit," noted Brit
Tzedek CEO Diane Balser. "We are delighted by the new
opportunities created by the establishment of our Washington
office to bring a pro-Israel, pro-peace voice to Capitol
Francisco to Launch Regional Conference
Preparations are under way for Brit Tzedek's
first regional conference, "FROM THE GROUND UP: Building an
American Jewish Movement to End the Israeli-Palestinian
Conflict," which will be held in the San Francisco Bay area
during President's Day weekend, February 18-19th 2006 [Register today].
Regional conferences will also be held this year in Washington,
DC, in the summer and in Chicago in the fall.
one-and-a-half-day conference will feature Stephen P. Cohen,
founder and director of the Institute of Middle East Peace and
Economic Development, as the keynote speaker and will offer 20
workshops and plenaries with other leading scholars and
activists, many of them from the western United States. [Agenda]
saying goes,'All politics are local,' and we wanted our
conference to reflect that idea," observes Carinne Luck, Brit
Tzedek's national chapter organizer, who is working closely with
chapter leaders in the western states in planning the
conference. "This conference aims to combine opportunities for
skill building and connecting with other activists in the region
with issue-based programming, so that we can move forward
together in building a movement reflective of both our unique
status as American Jews and our deep commitment to Israel's
well-being," she adds.
Advocacy Comes Home for the Holidays
congressional representatives return to their home districts for
the winter recess, Brit Tzedek chapters are taking advantage of
this opportunity to hold personal meetings with elected
representatives and their staff. The New York chapter kicked
off these efforts earlier in the month, meeting with
Congressman Rangel and representatives from the offices of
Congressman Nadler, while the Los Angeles chapters met with Rep.
Henry Waxman. Following their meeting with Rep. Rangel, the New
York chapter representatives recieved a personal letter from the
Congressman that reads "Active negotiation with the help of
the United States, as the Hyde-Capps letter calls for, is the
only way to resolve it [the conflict]. Both sides will have to
make difficult consessions but I am confident that a solution
will be reached, especially with the help of informed advocates
such as yourselves." Other chapters will conduct their home
district advocacy meetings in January.
Brit Tzedek Welcomes Cleveland
Brit Tzedek supporters in Cleveland, eager
to create an alternative Jewish voice in their community, have
formed the organization's first Ohio chapter, increasing Brit
Tzedek's network to 33 chapters nationwide.
Young Rhode Island Chapter Makes a
December was a busy month for Brit Tzedek's
nascent Rhode Island chapter. In addition to hosting its first
public event, addressed by Brit Tzedek CEO Diane Balser, the
chapter also introduced its members and the national
organization to Rhode Island's Board of Rabbis.
Diane Balser Tours Midwest,
Brit Tzedek CEO Diane Balser traveled to
Michigan for a series of events with our Detroit and Ann Arbor
chapters, including two well-attended events at Detroit's
Birmingham Temple and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor's Hillel.
Balser also recently appeared at Temple Emanuel in Worcester,
Massachusetts, as part of a weekly speaker's breakfast series
and spoke at the Rhode Island chapter's first public event [Read media coverage].
Los Angeles Chapter Welcomes Just
Ronit Avni, Just Vision founder and director,
spoke to the Los Angeles chapter in December on the topic of
"Peace in Israel/Palestine is possible." The discussion
drew on her experience making the feature-length documentary
Encounter Point, which follows ordinary Israelis and
Palestinians working for an end to bloodshed and occupation in
favor of peace. Just Vision is an organization dedicated to
increasing awareness about Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent,
civilian-led peace-building initiatives.
Rabbinic Cabinet Takes Off
Cabinet now consists of 72 rabbis and cantors from coast to
coast. The council includes a growing number of both
active and retired rabbis from various denominations, large and
small congregations, academia, and the chaplaincy.
Recently Dr. Lewis M. Barth, dean of the Hebrew Union College
in Los Angeles, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, and Rabbis Peter Knobel and
David Sandmel of prominent Chicago congregations joined the
The immediate goal of the cabinet is to
reinforce Brit Tzedek's view that its positions are broadly
supported by a majority of the American Jewish community.
Despite claims that American Jewry is becoming more and more
conservative about matters involving Israel, these 72
influential rabbis demonstrate through their support of Brit
Tzedek that our pro-peace position is a mainstream Jewish point
For more information about the Rabbinic
Cabinet or to become a member, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling All Students!
Committee, which is charged with building a meaningful
pro-Israel, pro-peace presence on college campuses nationwide,
is seeking new members. Please contact Ben Murane at email@example.com to express your
interest in volunteering or to request resources, materials,
trainings, and speakers for your campus.
Appointed to Coordinate Advocacy Efforts
is pleased to welcome our new Washington representative, Rob
Levy, who served as a legislative correspondent in the office
of Senator Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) until the senator was
elected governor of New Jersey in fall 2005. Formerly, Levy
spent a year as a legislative assistant at the Religious Action
Center (RAC), the Reform movement's public policy arm, where he
was the key staffer on Israel and helped draft the movement's
resolution supporting disengagement from Gaza.
BRIT TZEDEK IN THE
Iran's president doesn't speak
for Palestinians, by Philip Rosen. Providence
Journal, December 26, 2005
Iran's Leader not
Helping, by David Albert. Austin
American-Statesman, December 19, 2005.
U.S. Initiative, by
Diane Balser. Jerusalem Post, December 16, 2005.
Comfort to the Enemy,
by Molly Freeman. San Francisco Chronicle, December 16,
Reform and Conservative Leaders
in U.S. Want Rice Praised as Broker in Middle East,
by Ori Nir. Ha'aretz, December 14, 2005.
Temple Speaker Calls for Peace
Talk, by Taryn Plumb. Worcester
December 13, 2005.
Reform, Conservative Chiefs
Praise Rice, by Ori Nir. Forward, December 9,
Israel, Palestinians Must Focus
on Peace, by Allan Abrams. Kansas City
November 19, 2005.
Brit Tzedek Meets Congressman
McNulty, The Jewish World, November 10, 2005.
Work Towards Peace, by
Jennifer Bass, Julie Bloom and Bruce Solomon. The
Herald-Times, November 8, 2005.
BBC- The World,[audio link] Athena
Desai. November 4, 2005.
My Words of Tshuvah,
by Donna Spiegelman. The Ausblick, Fall 2005.
Former IDF Soldiers Urge Moral
Debate, by Deborah Moon Seldner. Jewish Review,
November 1, 2005.
Don't Let Gaza Fail,
by Allan Abrams. Kansas City Jewish Chronicle August 26,
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance
for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Become a member: Help build our grassroots base of
Share this message: Tell others about Brit
Receive regular updates:
Get weekly messages from Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.
More information: Click
to see our website.
Subscribe to the Daily Digest: Receive
daily news updates about the Israeli-Palestinian
This message was sent to . Visit your subscription management page to modify your email communication preferences or update your personal profile. Click here (or reply via email with "remove" in the subject line) to remove yourself from ALL email lists maintained by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom.