July 24, 2018
This weekend, Jews in nearly 20 cities organized public Tisha b’Av events to mourn the injustice of America’s immigration system — led by organizations including T’ruah, HIAS, JFREJ, Reconstructing Judaism, CJJ, JUFJ, JCA, JALSA, Austin Jews for Justice, Kehilla and Let Our People Go, local synagogues, and more, who were working in partnership with immigrant-led organizations.
My name is Neshama. I’m a member of the moral minyan in Atlanta, and I helped organize our Bend the Arc action outside the Atlanta City Detention Center on Saturday night. We sat together on the sidewalk to offer poems and prayers, and to chant Eicha (Lamentations).
We organized this action to put pressure on those in power and to connect to the power of communal Jewish ritual. Our collective story of tragedy and exile can be a source of strength as we show up for all other communities under attack today.
2) Create or find a local Families Belong Together event to mark the July 26 deadline for Trump to reunite families. News broke yesterday that 463 parents of migrant children are no longer in the country, likely deported without their children during Trump’s “zero tolerance” border crackdown.1
This was my first time organizing an action. I participated in Bend the Arc’s Leadership and Non-Violent Direct Action Training in Philadelphia this month, and was inspired when one of the trainers said, “If you’ve organized a potluck or a clothing swap, you can organize a direct action.”
There were 3 Atlantans at the training and we huddled together and said, “We can do this. Let’s start by sitting in front of the detention center to chant. Maybe it’ll just be the 3 of us, but we have the skills we need to show up for what we care about.” We had exactly a minyan plus a preschooler in Atlanta on Saturday night. Many of the actions around the country were even larger — with over 50 people in Long Island, NY, 45 in Washington, DC, and dozens in Burlington, MA!
Our group in Atlanta demonstrated that you don’t need to be a rabbi to speak against injustice with a Jewish voice, or have years of campaign experience to organize locally. Each weekday morning for the month of Elul, we plan to blow our shofars outside corporate offices to wake up Atlantans to the local companies that directly profit from immigrant detention through contracts with ICE. How will you use this season of self-reflection to wake up your community? Reply to this email if you have plans or ideas.
Neshama Littman, Bend the Arc: Atlanta Moral Minyan
1. Washington Post, Government: 463 migrant parents may have been deported without their children