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Upcoming Events

Brit Tzedek v’Shalom will be hosting a 22-city speaking tour with Elik Elhanan and Sulaiman Al Hamri, the Israeli and Palestinian coordinators, respectively, of Combatants for Peace. The tour will take place in January and February of 2007. We will be updating this page as more information comes in, please email Carinne with any questions.


Tour Dates

South

Northeast

Midwest

West

  • Los Angeles, CA – 1/31, 2/1
  • Santa Cruz, CA – 2/2
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA – 2/3, 2/4
  • Portland, OR – 2/5, 2/6
  • Eugene, OR – 2/7
  • Seattle, WA – 2/8, 2/9
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 National News: Nationwide Rabbinic Organizing Advances; 22 City Tour of Combatants for Peace Jan-Feb 2007; 2007 National Grassroots Leadership Institute & Advocacy Days
 Chapter News:  Rep. David Price Speaks at North Carolina Synagogue; Chapters Organize Around Release of Documentary, "Encounter Point"; Marcia Freedman and Carinne Luck Headline Chapter Events; New Chapter in Reno, NV; Networks forming in Asheville, NC and Johnson City, TN
 Legislative Update: Moderate Senate Version of Palestinian Sanctions Bill Passes House; Brit Tzedek Lauds Baker-Hamilton Commission Report
 Committee News: Fundraising Committee organizes events in New York City and Boston area featuring Tony Kushner, Alice Shalvi, and Marcia Freedman
 New Brit Tzedek Resources: ABCs of the Jewish Community; Reading List; Peace-Process Related Documents and Treaties
 Brit Tzedek in the News
 Staff News : New Office Manager Hired
 Volunteer Opportunities : Seeking Winter and Summer Interns for Washington, DC Office

NATIONAL NEWS

Nationwide Rabbinic Organizing Advances

Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet has been organizing rabbis and cantors across the country over the past year.  In September, the Cabinet circulated a call to the American Jewish community to "Seek Peace and Pursue It" following the Lebanon war. The call urged "the U.S. administration to re-engage with all of the important players   in this conflict, including Iran and Syria, and to use its influence to promote political solutions rather than polarization and conflict."

Brit Tzedek is using the momentum from the letters to build our Rabbinic Cabinet now numbering nearly 200 members. The national office provided members with background materials to consider for the High Holidays and subsequently shared peace-themed sermons, including several that highlighted Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Call. 

The Cabinet welcomes new co-chairs:  Rabbi Julie Saxe Taller for rabbis and Cantor Michael Davis for cantors. Cantor Michael has started a listserv for cantors to share programming ideas. Rabbi Julie is doing outreach to rabbis in northern California to join delegations for home district office visits to Congress.

Cabinet Chair Rabbi John Friedman recently returned from the first Rabbis for Human Rights-North America conference where he networked with current and prospective members.

Please feel free to invite your rabbi or cantor to join the cabinet if they have not already done so.  You can find a sample invitation letter here.

22 City Tour of Combatants for Peace January-February 2007

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is organizing a nationwide tour featuring Elik Elhanan and Sulaiman Al Hamri, the Israeli and Palestinian coordinators of "Combatants for Peace". The former Israeli soldier and former Palestinian combatant and prisoner will appear together to advocate for non-violent alternatives for achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tour starts January 8 in Atlanta. (See below for a complete listing of tour sites and dates).

The "Combatants for Peace" movement was founded in 2005 by Israelis and Palestinians who were once actively involved in perpetuating the cycle of violence.  After having seen one another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down their guns, and to fight instead for peace through dialogue, reconciliation and educational outreach. They believe that these non-violent means offer the only opportunity to secure the futures of their respective people by working together to end the Israeli occupation, halting the settlement project, and establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, alongside the State of Israel.

In addition to organizing countless meetings between Israeli and Palestinian veterans, the Combatants for Peace have worked together to raise the consciousness in both larger Israeli and Palestinian societies of the aspirations and fears of those on the "other side," and in so doing to create partners in dialogue. Through lectures, joint projects, non-violent demonstrations and media outreach, the group members aim to educate both peoples about the merits of non-violent struggle and to put political pressure on both governments to stop the vicious cycle of violence and resume constructive dialogue.

Atlanta, GA: Jan 8
Raleigh, NC: Jan 9
NYC: Jan 10-11
Philadelphia, PA: Jan 12-15
New Haven/Orange, CT: Jan 16-17
Western Massachusetts: Jan 18-19
Albany, NY: Jan 20
Providence, RI: Jan 21
Detroit, MI: Jan 22
Ann Arbor. MI:  Jan 23
Kalamazoo. MI:  Jan 24
Chicago, IL: Jan 25-27
St. Louis/Columbia, MO: Jan 28-29
Kansas City, KS: Jan 30
Los Angeles, CA: Jan 31-Feb 1
Santa Cruz, CA: Feb 2
San Francisco Bay Area, CA: Feb 3-4
Portland, OR: Feb 5-6
Eugene, OR: Feb 7
Seattle, WA: Feb 8-9

Details are posted on chapter websites.  A complete itinerary will be posted in January.

2007 National Grassroots Leadership Institute & Advocacy Days

SAVE THE DATE: June 9-12, 2007 Join Brit Tzedek in Washington, DC for our National Grassroots Leadership Training Institute & National Advocacy Days 2007

National Grassroots Leadership Training Institute
(June 9-10, 2007 - Washington, DC)

Brit Tzedek's 2nd Grassroots Leadership Training Institute, Building our Political Movement for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, will take place the evening of Saturday, June 9 and all day Sunday, June 10, in downtown, Washington, DC. The Institute will bring hundreds of activists together from across the U.S. for an evening plenary and day of intensive workshops, trainings and networking opportunities on topics such as: Building a successful chapter in your city; Creating a Brit Tzedek presence in your local media, and bringing a pro-Israel, pro-peace message to your synagogues and organized Jewish community.

National Advocacy Days 2007
(June 11-12, 2007 - Washington, DC)

Brit Tzedek's 3rd Annual National Advocacy Days begins on Monday, June 11, with a day of political briefings and trainings on the Hill from policy experts and government officials, followed by an evening reception with Members of Congress.  On Tuesday, June 12, you'll have the opportunity to meet with your own Senators and Representatives and urge them to support our pro-Israel, pro-peace message!


CHAPTER NEWS

Rep. David Price Speaks at North Carolina Synagogue

Congressman David Price (NC-D) addressed the Durham-Chapel Hill chapter of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and Congregation Judea Reform on the question: "Can the U.S. Help Broker Peace Between the Israelis and Palestinians?"

Rep. Price, who has visited the Middle East and key leaders there many times, discussed the positive role the United States could play in the region and in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Chapters Organize Around Release of Documentary, "Encounter Point"

Across the country, Brit Tzedek chapters have been organizing attendance and discussions at screenings of "Encounter Point," to website a film following the work of Israeli and Palestinian civilians that have found their partners in peace. Highlighting people involved with the Bereaved Families Forum, the joint Israeli-Palestinian youth magazine, Windows, Seeds of Peace, as well as a former settler, the film has been criss-crossing the country, and chapters in Seattle, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco-Bay Area have organized panels, discussions, and large groups of Brit Tzedek members to attend screenings.

Rep. Capuano Holds Private Forum with Boston Chapter

On Thursday, November 9, 2006, two days after the recent elections, some 60 members and supporters of Brit Tzedek attended a private forum with Representative Michael E. Capuano of the 8th Congressional district to hear his views about the current situation in the Middle East and elicit recommendations on how to influence Congress and the present administration regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At that meeting Rep. Capuano said that the most important role for the US is to bring parties together for talks and that diplomacy should be held behind closed doors with those willing to talk. He also recommended that Brit Tzedek should not hesitate to get to know those members new to Congress and win them over to Brit Tzedek positions. Capuano appreciated Brit Tzedek and encouraged us to continue our work and grow as an organization.

Marcia Freedman, Carinne Luck, Rob Levy, and Steve Masters Headline Chapter Events

Its not just politicians who are speaking to communities across the country! Brit Tzedek President, Marcia Freedman, traveled recently to Boston and New York, for a series of private and public events, including a Rabbis breakfast in Newton, MA to launch the local Rabbinnic cabinet there. Director of Chapter and Grassroots Development, Carinne Luck, traveled to Philadelphia and Washington, DC, where she spoke to chapter gatherings. Washington Representative, Rob Levy, spoke in southern New Jersey to congregation M'kor Shalom, and National Advocacy Chair, Steve Masters, traveled to Chicago, to participate in a dialogue at Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism to coincide with the Rabin memorial.

New Chapter in Reno, NV

Brit Tzedek welcomes our first Nevada chapter, spearheaded by former Brit Tzedek intern, Daryn Glassbrook. We look forward to working with the Reno chapter and to growing our base in the Southwest! If you would like to become involved with Brit Tzedek in Nevada, please email chapter@btvshalom.org.

Networks Forming in Asheville, NC and Johnson City, TN

Brit Tzedek is excited to support new, pro-Israel, pro-peace networks in the American Jewish communities that lie in and between Asheville, NC and Johnson City, TN. We hope to support these groups as they reach out to their own smaller Jewish communities, and we look forward to the opportunity to help them grow into chapters. If you are interested in connecting with these networks, please email chapter@btvshalom.org.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Moderate Senate Version of Palestinian Sanctions Bill Signed into Law

On December 21, President Bush signed into law the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.  In the waning days of the 109th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (S. 2370). Though the final legislation is a more moderate version of the punitive House bill (which Brit Tzedek strongly opposed), recent events in the Middle East render it entirely obsolete and greatly damaging to Israel and the peace process.  Brit Tzedek urged the President  NOT to sign this bill into law. 

Interestingly, President Bush accompanied his signature with a signing statement that declared his intention to freely interpret or ignore many of the bill's most problematic clauses that prevent substantive U.S. engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We hope that this means President Bush may finally engage diplomatically in the final years of his Administration.  See Brit Tzedek's press release on the signing statement.

Though still deeply problematic and counterproductive, the final version of the Palestinian sanctions bill contains a number of important improvements over the House bill that had been advocated for by Brit Tzedek activists.  The fact that the bill's proponents could not push through harsher language, and that President Bush plans to ignore the remaining problematic sections, represents a small but significant success for the pro-Israel, pro-peace community and demonstrates that your advocacy can make a huge difference!

Brit Tzedek Lauds Baker-Hamilton Commission Report

Brit Tzedek praised the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission (aka the Iraq Study Group) regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a victory for the American Jewish peace movement. The report's findings validate Brit Tzedek's longstanding position that direct negotiations based on the principle of "land for peace" and the establishment of a just and viable Palestinian state are the only means for meeting Israel's security needs in the region.

We call on President Bush to immediately reverse his longstanding and dangerous policy of inaction and to enact the Commission's recommendations by promoting bilateral and multi-lateral regional negotiations, for which the willingness to participate is the sole precondition.  We believe that the Baker-Hamilton report offers a concrete proposal for critically rethinking what is necessary to do in order to truly stand behind Israel in her quest for peace and security and to achieve stability in the broader Middle East.

COMMITTEE NEWS

Fundraising Committee Organizes Events in New York City and Boston Area

Brit Tzedek's Fundraising Committee has been busy this past fall.  In October a Committee breakfast hosted by honorary board chair Arthur Obermayer and board member Sidney Topol at the Harvard Club in Cambridge featured board president Marcia Freedman. On November 1, the Committee organized a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of Barbara Dobkin featuring honorary board member Tony Kushner, Alice Shalvi, and Brit Tzedek president Marcia Freedman. The host committee included: Theodore Bikel, Barbara Dobkin, Kathleen Peratis, and honorary board members Rabbi Rolando Matalon and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. See photos.


NEW BRIT TZEDEK RESOURCES

Brit Tzedek has been adding to its on-line resources.  ABCs of the Jewish Community includes a basic overview and statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Jewish Religious Denominations, Jewish Umbrella Groups, and Selected Jewish Organizations. 

The Reading List includes suggested reading on Israel, Peace Diplomacy, the Arab Israeli Conflict and Palestinians.

Peace-Process Related Documents and Treaties includes all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and documents and treaties.


BRIT TZEDEK IN THE NEWS

Brit Tzedek's board president Marcia Freedman and Executive Director Diane Cantor have had several letters to the editor and op-eds published over the past several months.  A complete list of media coverage is below.

"For pro-Israel crowd, Iraq report has some unwelcome proposals" by Ron Kampeas, JTA News, December 8, 2006

"Controversial Minister Gets Pass From Jewish Leaders" by Larry Cohler-Esses and James D. Besser, Jewish Week, December 1, 2006

"Concern Over Olmert Visit" by Naomi B. Isler, Jewish Advocate, November 16, 2006

"Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace" by Diane M. Cantor, Jerusalem Post, October 29, 2006

"Lakeside Congregation to host peace activists" by Kenneth L.R. Patchen, Highland Park News, October 26, 2006

"Israeli dignitaries and supporters converge on Savannah" by Dana Clark Felty, Savannah Morning News, October 24, 2006

"Never Give Up Trying To Talk" by Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2006

"Two-State Solution ASAP Only Chance For Peace" by Steve Masters and Diane Balser, LA Jewish Journal, October 20, 2006

"Third Temple Advocate Backs Event" JTA News, October 20, 2006

"5766: US Jewry, with focus on youth" by Chanan Tigay, Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2006

"Israel conference reflects minority view" by Marcia Freeman and Diane Cantor, Savannah Morning News, October 19, 2006

"Many ways to be pro-Israel" by Marcia Freedman, Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2006

"Diane Cantor to lead Jewish peace movement" by Dana Clark Felty, Savannah Morning News, October 14, 2006

"Ex-Atlantan Leads Peace Movement" by Steve Masters and Diane Balser, Atlanta Jewish Times, October 13, 2006

"US blocks further sanctions against PA" by Nathan Guttman, Jerusalem Post, September 30, 2006

"PLO liaison says key to peace is in fixing Palestinians' plight" Boston Globe, September 28, 2006

"Jewish Clergy Calls for Turn to Peace" JTA News, September 2006


STAFF NEWS

Brit Tzedek welcomes Melissa Srbinovich as our new Office Manager. Melissa received a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During her time at the University she held a seat on the Board of Directors of WCBN-FM, a grassroots, student-run freeform radio station. She recently returned to the U.S. from Honduras, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Washington DC Office Seeks Winter/Spring Intern

Brit Tzedek seeks an intern who will work in Brit Tzedek's Washington office to assist in the organization's advocacy efforts during the winter and spring of 2007. The intern will assist in legislative analysis, research, and advocacy to Congress; facilitate the conception, development, and compilation of advocacy materials and resources for our national grassroots network; aid in preparation for Brit Tzedek's National Advocacy Days 2007, and perform general administrative activities. The intern will also be expected to occasionally attend policy briefings and Congressional hearings.

Please email DCoffice@btvshalom.org for more information.



Sample Letter to Invite Rabbi to Join Brit Tzedek Rabbinic Cabinet

Dear Rabbi,

I am writing to invite you to join the Rabbinic Cabinet of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Brit Tzedek is a national Jewish peace organization that educates and mobilizes the Jewish community on behalf of a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Rabbinic Cabinet consists of hundreds of rabbis and cantors supportive of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom who agree to be publicly listed as members of the Rabbinic Cabinet on our website at You can see a list of cabinet members here.  By lending your names to the Cabinet, you are publicly endorsing Brit Tzedek's message of a negotiated two-state peace. Cabinet members are also encouraged to spread the message of peace and justice in a broad variety of ways; all are optional. These include: sharing peace-related sermons, programming and other ideas with members of the cabinet; hosting chapter events such as speaking tours and other programming at synagogues; writing Jewish Holiday letters for the general listserv; attending chapter home district meetings with elected officials; or writing op-eds and letters to the editors with Brit Tzedek's message.

The public support of Jewish religious leaders is crucial to Brit Tzedek's growth and influence. To advocate for peace in the most broadly effective manner, we must be able to speak to mainstream American Jews in the authentic religious language of Judaism, for peace and justice have always been core principles of our tradition. I believe this mission to be an urgent one -- too many Israelis and Palestinians are living in fear and despair.

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have about Brit Tzedek's message and goals, or share my experience as a member. You may reach me at X or you may visit Brit Tzedek's home page.
 
Thank you for considering this invitation. I hope you will consider working with Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet to renew the American Jewish community's commitment to peace. Sha-alu shalomYirushalayim, yishla-u oha-vayich. Let those who love Jerusalem seek peace for her together.

B'vracha,


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206
info@btvshalom.org
www.btvshalom.org


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