Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There is hope for the future

This first post was inspired by my attendance at the Jewish Voice for Peace [JVP] Annual Meeting this past weekend. As others on line have pointed out, the meeting [the point was made a number of times that this was a meeting and not a "conference"] actually focused on the work that JVP is doing rather than a series of "talking heads."  There were some well known speakers, but even they managed to stimulate a considerable amount of valuable discussion both among the presenters and between presenters and attendees.

I was energized in a way that I haven’t been for some time – by the number of people there from all across the continent and foreign countries [I was told about 200], as well as the obvious sense of commitment to doing and acting that I perceived on the part of most of the participants. 

More than anything, however, I was exhilarated by the large contingent of young activists. I had the tremendous pleasure of talking to a group of graduates and students from Boston’s Hebrew College rabbinic program, a student of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah class I taught in Cambridge years ago who has become an all grown up young woman who is working on social justice issues at a Jewish agency in Washington, D.C., and, most moving, the Young Jewish and Proud folks. These are the young people who stood up at the national Jewish federations’ General Assembly, interrupting Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu’s presentation with signs that declared ideas like “The occupation delegitimizes Israel.” If you haven’t already seen it you must read “The Young Jewish Declaration.” One of the young Jews explained the difficulty in creating this document given the wide religious, social and gender differences within the group. There is an old adage that says “a camel is a horse put together by a committee.” Well, somehow these young people have created a magnificent show pony that is galloping around the world. Go to their web site where you will find the Declaration, a video of their General Assembly action and articles by some of these amazing young people. 

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend came Motzei Shabbat [Saturday evening] when the Young Jewish and Proud folks read some of their poetry. It’s been a long time since I was moved the way I was listening to these special, beautiful written gifts. I’m intent on getting some of their work at which time I will post it here.

For some of us aging ‘60’s activists who are sometimes jaded, tired and burned out this was like a powerful jump start. As one who sometimes despairs of who will carry on with our work, I have rarely experienced an elixir as powerful as these proud young Jews.  These are our children as well as our future and that makes us proud too.

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