Some awesome Tzedek events have been going on! This post is both an overview of some of the cool things Gilboa teens have been doing recently and reason to get excited for the cool work that will continue into the spring.
In late January, a group of Tzedek participants in the Bay Area planned and facilitated an educational event for families at San Francisco's Beth Sholom congregation on the year’s Tzedek focus, immigration justice. Because what better a way for Gilboa to build relationships than by putting our best foot forward and on display - youth led, social justice oriented Jewish education!
Tzedek participants split into committees to both plan the program for Beth Sholom and to plan an educational space for ourselves beforehand - to make sure we felt like informed educators. The program we ended up creating focused on exploring immigration issues in the current political moment through a Jewish values lens. And we ended with an interactive carnival of different activist stations - from contacting representatives to creating social media in order to make our voices heard. It was a promising educational moment for all those participating and an important step for Gilboa in building relationships within the California progressive Jewish community. It’s through these partnerships that we build a future of Jewish justice together.
Tzedek Kvutza Seminars
Throughout February, Tzedek participants gathered in two separate locations to participate in Gilboa’s first ever set of Tzedek Kvutza seminars.
11th Grade Seminar in the Bay
In mid-February the 11th graders of Tzedek met in Oakland for the first of these two seminars. After an opening discussion about movement ecology and how Tzedek can situate itself within a wider immigration justice landscape, we left our cozy home base in the Oakland hills and met with Kenan Arun from the LGBT Asylum Project to learn about the intersection of immigration justice and LGBT rights. It was thought provoking and grounded our learning about immigration justice in the stories and humanity of those affected. When there are issues as broad and difficult as immigration in the US today, it's important to remember that vulnerable populations in society are always most affected.
Following, we met with Rose Mendelsohn from Bay Resistance. There we spoke about how the post-2016 election resurgence in social justice can work to support long-standing community justice efforts. Then we took the values to the streets and handed out fliers in front of financial institutions that have been profiting off of family separations and private immigration prisons. We asked customers to put pressure on their financial institutions to divest from these companies. These sorts of discussions are always complicated and difficult, especially with strangers, but the group was really brave in making connections and starting conversations.
We ended the seminar the following morning meeting with a panel of Habonim alumni to talk shop about the movement, Tzedek and what it means to be young Jewish changemakers in the world today. It was an inspiring moment to end on and saw the group thinking about how to take ownership over our movement, HDNA, as a way of creating justice in the world!
9th/10th Grade Seminar in LA
The second of these two seminars saw the 9th graders meeting up in LA for a similarly styled weekend of education, kvutza and justice. On Saturday we woke up bright and early for breakfast and a discussion about different forms of immigration justice work, how they intersect to create a bigger movement of justice, and where we at Gilboa and Tzedek fit in. After the discussion we met with Jenny Villegas from CARECEN to learn about the Central American community in East LA and the activism/community building work they do. It was powerful to see what activism looks like coming from affected communities and offered a different perspective from how most of us at Gilboa approach the work.
Following we spent some time re-arranging the basement of the Institute into a new TZEDEK LOUNGE! As we think about building our program and justice work in the future, it's exciting to have a home for whatever we build. And while there's still work to do, it's pretty exciting to visibly see some of the Gilboa future being built. We ended the seminar on Sunday morning by meeting with Rebecca Green, the local organizer with Bend the Arc SoCal, to talk about the intersections of white-supremacy and antisemitism today. It was a challenging discussion and really pushed us to think about our roles as social justice Jews in the world today.
As a Tzevet (Josh, Amalia, and Ari) we felt pretty lucky to spend these times with such thoughtful groups as Tzedek teens. Given that this event (kvutza-specific Tzedek seminars) is a new structure to Gilboa and the Tzedek program, we're especially excited to build upon and improve it for years to come!
In the Streets (or at least the Median)
One of the last opportunities to share came together somewhat at the last moment - and sometimes that’s the best way! We received word through our Bend the Arc partners about a small action hosted by the United Farm Workers union. It was being held outside of a book talk by potential presidential candidate and former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz. The UFW, already fighting Schultz’s refusal to address allegations of the abuse and sexual assault of immigrant workers in his supply chain, organized an event to show their anger. A few Tzedek teens showed up on a cold and misty evening and protested on the median as cars drove in. It may have been cold and damp, but local news showed up and anyone in LA County watching after work knew that LA progressives stand against corporate lack of accountability!
And as exciting as all of this justice, learning and community was. We can’t wait for all of the amazing opportunities during the rest of the year. Protests, education, new partners, potential legislative visits, and much much more!