Shalom : Jewish Activists Gather to End the War and Heal America

‘The gathering we are holding is intended to restart the energies of Jewish activism.’
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow / The Rag Blog / November 12, 2008

On November 23, The Shalom Center and the Workmen’s Circle will hold an action gathering in New York City: “Jews Uniting to End the War and Heal America.”

Why? Because no President, no Congress, can harvest the fruits of peace, justice, and sustainability unless there is a community in motion — a grass-roots movement — demanding and creating crucial changes in private behavior as well as public policy. One of the communities that by voting record and by asserted values should be in the forefront of such a grass-roots effort is the American Jewish community.

But for too many years, some parts of the American Jewish community have held back from its true vocation to bring peace to America and to the whole region that Abraham and Sarah and Hagar walked, from what is now Iraq to what are now Israel and Palestine and Egypt and Arabia. For too many years, even the Jewish desire for social justice in America has been blunted by refusing to connect that hope with the need to end the Iraq War and to work toward a broader peace. How can a trillion dollars for destruction NOT be a domestic issue?

The gathering we are holding is intended to restart the energies of Jewish activism.



Jews Uniting to End the War and Heal America
A Project of The Shalom Center, The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, and Jewish Currents

On Sunday, November 23, at Central Synagogue in New York City, The Shalom Center, Jewish Currents, and Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring invite YOU to take part in a one-day action gathering: Jews Uniting to End the War & Heal America: Organizing for Action.

Please go here to register for November 23 and/ or contribute to its success, even if you are too far away to come.

And please send this invitation to your friends.

Speakers and workshop leaders will include Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center in Washington, Rabbi Peter Knobel, president of the Reform rabbinical association, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Sammie Moshenberg of the National Council of Jewish Women, Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street, Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights— – and many other luminaries of the newest and oldest generations of activist Jews. (See the day’s schedule, below.)

Why are we doing this? Because no President, no Congress can make change happen and heal America without a vigorous grass-roots movement organizing for change, to counter entrenched top-down interests. Because Jewish values and wisdom teach us to pursue peace, justice, and healing of the earth. And because if there is serious Jewish involvement, the grass-roots movement for change in America will be considerably stronger.

Our goals are a) to put ending the Iraq war and turning to domestic needs high on the agenda of major Jewish organizations, not only on paper but in their commitment to mobilize vigorous action by their members, and b) to involve grass-roots Jews of all sorts, in or out of the organizational Jewish world.

Why choose November 23? We will have enough time to start organizing before January 20, when the new US government will come to power. We intend to leave November 23 with an action network ready to move quickly.

ORGANIZING FOR ACTION: Sunday, November 23, 2008 at Central Synagogue, 123 East 55th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, NYC

Schedule for the Day:

8:00-10:00AM Coffee and bagels available
8:30AM Registration opens for the day (closes 4:30pm)
9:30AM-9:40AM Welcoming/framing of the day (10 min) • Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, The Shalom Center and Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, poet and scholar

9:40-10:45AM Opening plenary: Why the Jewish community must take vigorous action to end the war and heal America • Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, former Congresswoman, author, attorney • Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism • Ann Toback, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring • Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

11:00AM-12:15PM —- 5 Concurrent morning sessions on the implications of the peace effort

A. Impacts of Iraq war and peace on the broader Middle East (from Iran to Egypt, and everything in between) • Moderator: JJ Goldberg, former Editor in Chief, The Forward • Diane Balser, Brit Tzedek V’Shalom • Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street • Lilly Rivlin, Meretz USA • MJ Rosenberg, Israel Policy Forum

B. Impacts of the Iraq war on human rights and civil liberties in the US • Moderator: Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Rabbis for Human Rights / North America • Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman, former Congresswoman, author and attorney • Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Rabbis for Human Rights / North America • Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights

C. Domestic economic consequences of the war and peace • Moderator: Bill Hartung, New America Foundation • Liza Featherstone, journalist and contributing editor to The Nation • Brad Lander, Pratt Center for Community Development • Greg Speeter, National Priorities Project

D. Oil, war and climate crisis • Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network • Emmaia Gelman, Center for Working Families • Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International • Charles Komanoff, Carbon Tax Center

E. Healing veterans, their families and the families of the war dead• Moderator: Myriam Miedzian, author “Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence” • Jan Barry, Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War • Penny Coleman, author “Flashback: Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Suicide and the Costs of War” • Sue Niederer, Goldstar Families for Peace

12:15-12:45PM Lunch break-conversations
12:25-12:35 Optional screening “Soldiers of Conscience”
12:40-12:45PM Musical performance • Adrienne Cooper, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring • Cantor Jonathan Gordon, Woodlands Community Temple

12:45PM-1:05PM Afternoon keynote remarks/An insider’s view from the Hill: • Introduction: Marty Schwartz, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring • Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
1:05-1:30PM Views to the Hill and beyond: • Introduction: Rokhl Kafrissen, Jewish Currents • Leslie Cagan, United for Peace and Justice • Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street

1:30-2:45PM Afternoon plenary: Confronting the war in the Jewish community at this historic moment of opportunity: Where we’ve come from, where we’re headed, how to capitalize on the change in Administration in Washington • Moderator: Larry Bush, Jewish Currents • Rabbi Marla Feldman, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism • Rabbi Peter Knobel, Central Conference of American Rabbis • Sammie Moshenberg, National Council of Jewish Women • Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center

3:00-4:15PM 3 Concurrent afternoon sessions (1 hour 15 min)

A. Jewish values, texts, and organizing with rabbis and synagogues • Moderator: Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, The Shalom Center and Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives • Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Temple University • Rabbi Or Rose, Hebrew College • Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel

B. Building a Jewish anti-war activist network • Moderator: Marty Schwartz, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring • Jeffrey Dekro, The Shalom Center and founder of The Shefa Fund • Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation/Olive Branch Interfaith Partners for Peace • April Rosenblum, author “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere” and contributor to “Righteous Indignation” • Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Hillels of Westchester • Tammy Shapiro, Union of Progressive Zionists • Dara Silverman, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

C. The Media & Changing Jewish Public Opinion • Moderator: Esther Kaplan, The Nation Institute • Jeff Cohen, Park Center for Independent Media • Dan Sieradski, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
4:30-5:15PM Closing keynote remarks and close of the day (45 min) • Introduction: Gary Ferdman, The Shalom Center & Common Cause

• Keynote: Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! • Robert Kaplan, Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring• TBD, The Shalom Center
5:15-6:00PM Musical performance • Basya Schecter and Pharaoh’s Daughter

6:00PM Close of the day

Jews Uniting to End the War & Heal America: Organizing for Action will:

Make clear the connections between the costs of the war and the economic stress Americans are facing; between the savagery of the war and the sinking worldwide reputation of the U.S.; between the deceit and profiteering that have fueled the war and the erosion of true homeland security, including our Constitutional security; between the politics of the war and efforts to undermine the liberal spirit of American Jews.

And it will focus not only on the substantive issues but on how to MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN.

Remember — please go here to register for November 23 and/ or contribute to its success.

The Rag Blog

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