Friday, August 10, 2018

PPC reflections from Rabbi Alana Alpert

(reposted from email)
The morning after an incredible shabbaton of relationship and skills-building, over a dozen DJJ leaders schlepped to Lansing to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign. We were rolling deep because the day’s theme of Environmental Justice brings out the cause dearest to our collective heart: water.

Those of us risking arrest shared why we were there. I said, “I’m here because this is how I pray.” Spiritual practice challenges our need for certainty, our obsession with clarity, our hubris of imagined control. We don’t know if anything will come of using our bodies to communicate our outrage about water shutoffs and poisoned land to decision-makers in Lansing. But we do know that we must practice taking risks for justice. We must practice answering the call of our partners to stand with them: indeed, without the work of DJJ, there would have been almost no Jewish presence in the Michigan campaign. As DJJ practiced these things, I felt deeply grateful to be rooted in a spiritual tradition and Metro Detroit Jewish community committed to nurturing the critical intersection between faith and social change.

Photo by Tommy Airey
We are especially proud to have inducted an incredible number of DJJ leaders and friends of many ages into the tradition of direct action (including a bunch of rabbis!). One of our young leaders, Seth Archambault, describes his experience:
"The Poor People’s Campaign was an opportunity to stand for racial justice in a way that required more than just words, while staying true to the way of being I aspire to: Loving, Courageous, and Empowered. Now that I’ve experienced what non-violent direct action feels like, I know that even in the face of massive systemic issues, I have the ability to take action and stand for something greater than the status quo." 
This summer has been brutal: family separation, the Supreme Court blow to unions, and on and on. It is the holy chutzpah of leaders like Seth and our partners in the Poor People’s Campaign that keep me from despair. Thank you for supporting our work to take our faith to the streets.

P.S. Our partners in the social justice community are calling for escalation around a number of injustices. I was recently encouraged to speak out at a forum with the Mayor in my district. Click here to check out my remarks and the community response.