REPORT FROM THE GROUND: BRIT
TZEDEK ON THE MOVE
Common wisdom holds that the languid summer months followed
by the business of the High Holidays make for a prolonged
slowdown in the life of Jewish organizations. Not so Brit
Tzedek! Our activists have been busy educating, advocating, and
organizing throughout. Here are some highlights of our recent
grassroots efforts on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
BRIT TZEDEK AT THE J STREET
Brit Tzedek supporters will join 1000
other activists from around the country in Washington DC October
25-28. We've got a full schedule of sessions, meals, and a party
Monday night, Oct. 26:
Reception to celebrate Brit Tzedek
activists at 8 pm.
Tuesday, Oct. 27:
Brit Tzedek Session: "The Power of
Grassroots Organizing: A Political Force for the Pro- Israel,
Pro-Peace Movement" at 9 a.m.
Brit Tzedek Rabbinic Cabinet Session: "Dancing on the Head of
a Pin: The Role of Rabbis in the Pro-Peace Movement" at 10:30
Rabbinic Cabinet luncheon at 12 noon. (For pre-registered
|Steve Masters, President, Ed Asner, Rabbi
Joshua Levine-Grater, Secretary|
BRIT TZEDEK IN HOLLYWOOD
political activist Ed Asner headlined September 5, alongside
Brit Tzedek President Steve Masters, at a reception on behalf of
Brit Tzedek in Pasadena, CA at the home of Joanne Topol,
daughter of longtime peace activist and Brit Tzedek board member
ON THE STAFF FRONT....
Director Diane Balser stepped down in July to give her full
attention to her teaching duties at Boston University, but
continues with Brit Tzedek in a consultant capacity. Longtime
Deputy Director Aliza Becker has taken over as Interim Executive
DR. IZZELDEIN ABUELAISH IN BOSTON
Brit Tzedek chapters throughout the country
have been organizing public events and private meetings with
physician and peace advocate Dr. Izzeldein Abuelaish. On January
16 of this year, during the Gaza war, three of his daughters,
and a niece, were killed when Israeli tank shells shattered his
house in the Jabalaya camp, hours after he appeared -- by
teleconference -- at a Pittsburgh chapter community meeting.
This week, the Boston chapter is co-sponsoring "Bridging Gaza
and Israel: A Palestinian Physician's Quest to Heal
Israeli-Palestinian Relations" with Dr. Abuelaish.
Brit Tzedek's vision of a
negotiated peace was featured in 3 High Holiday opinion pieces
penned by members of our Rabbinic Cabinet.
Rabbi John Friedman, Chair of Brit Tzedek's Rabbinic Cabinet
and national Board member, urged readers of Boston's Jewish Advocate to heed the Torah's
call to "seek peace and pursue it".
The New York Jewish Week published Rabbinic
Cabinet member Brant Rosen's piece on one of the holiday
season's key lessons, namely "that that it's never too late for
reconciliation: between humanity and God, between loved ones,
between bitter enemies."
Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater, Brit Tzedek's national secretary,
wrote of the need for concerted action in the Middle East and by
American Jews in the L.A. Jewish Journal.
HOME DISTRICT ADVOCACY
During the summer
Congressional recess our chapters held 20 advocacy meetings,
bringing the Brit Tzedek message to elected Representatives
right in their home districts from Rochester, New York to
Eugene, Oregon and places in between.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Nydia Velazquez
(D-NY) was so impressed by the visit with our New York City
chapter delegation that she asked Brit Tzedek to organize a
presentation for the entire Hispanic Caucus. Brit Tzedek is
jointly organizing just such an event with J Street, to take
place some time after next week's J Street Conference.
The Chicago chapter met with newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley
(D-IL) (who replaced Rahm Emanuel) just days after his return
from a one-day trip to Gaza. Chapter activists were able
to listen to and address issues raised by his trip and provide
him with resources immediately prior to his AIPAC-sponsored trip
to Israel the following week.
BRIT TZEDEK SUPPORTS THE ISRAELI
In August, there was concern that Nadav
Tamir, Israeli Consul General in Boston, would be recalled for
an internal memo outlining how Israeli inaction
around peace-making might strain its relationship with the U.S.
The Boston chapter was one of the first Jewish groups to come
out in support of Tamir, both within the Jewish community and
the Boston-area media.
Bay Area members of the BT Rabbinic Cabinet and our Bay Area
Chapter leaders held a meeting with the local Israeli Consul
General Akiva Tor. The meeting was "remarkably honest" and "all
participants look forward to future conversations."
“It was very energizing
to feel a part
of a real,
"I came away with a
lots of good ideas to
present to my chapter.”
SUMMER GRASSROOTS TRAINING INSTITUTE
of the high points of our grassroots summer came in late July.
Fifty Brit Tzedek activists from across the country gathered in
Chicago for an intensive organizer training program featuring
nationally renowned political organizer and grassroots
strategist Heather Booth. There were hands-on sessions on
everything from local fundraising and one-on-one conversations
to home district advocacy and the ABCs of the Jewish community.
Our closing session featured a dialogue between Jeremy Ben-Ami
and then Executive Director Diane Balser on the past, present,
and future of the pro-Israel pro-peace movement. It was
truly an amazing and inspiring 2 days, and participants returned
to their communities revved up to organize!
|Donna Spiegelman, Boston
Chapter Co-Chair and National Membership and Outreach Committee
||(l to r) Ivan Handler,
Ariela Lazar, Bill Dolnick, Jeff Kulp, Michael
||(l to r) Jeremy Ben-Ami,
Executive Director, J Street, Diane Balser, |
Director, Brit Tzedek
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish
Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
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