The Right Place To Start: Building The Movement In Philly

July 17, 2018

In Trump's America, we are at a moment of dread, and faced with a daunting problem. The attacks on our democracy and on vulnerable communities are coming faster than we can possibly respond.

In such a moment, Jewish tradition hands down a sagely proverb: "The way one approaches a problem is half its solution."

In other words, you pick somewhere to start and you dig in. This summer, Bend the Arc is doing just that with three regional gatherings for leaders and activists, and we just wrapped up our second gathering in Philadelphia.

From July 13-15, more than 60 Jewish leaders and organizers — including a minyan's worth of Jews of Color — convened for our Eastern Regional Gathering.

From Austin, TX to Elkridge, MD, people came from across the country to be part of something bigger than all of us. Together, we struggled with the gravity of the moment. Together, we learned strategies and gained resources in organizing our communities and planning nonviolent direct actions. Together, we worked through the challenges of building a community centered around diversity and inclusion. Together, we engaged in Jewish ritual, text study, and song, to fortify us for writing the next chapters of the Jewish resistance.

Hear for yourself what leaders took away from the experience:

 

"Being with your people who care — even knowing that there's a larger movement — that's strengthening as you do your own individual work. I've learned many of these strategies before, but never with this level of diversity of age, class, race, first-timers and old hands in a way that's not alienating. It's definitely something I'll be bringing back to my congregation."
—Rabbi Marisa James, New York, NY

"I just finished my PhD, and I'd made a commitment to myself when Trump was elected to do more work for the resistance once my degree was done, but I couldn't find anyone to 'use' me. My Judaism is a really important piece to channel into this work, and Bend the Arc felt like the right place to start. I'm really excited about the resources I've gained here to help structure conversations with my co-conspirators around resisting."
—Molly Kleinman, Ann Arbor, MI

"I showed up here to put my money where my mouth is to figure out more ways I can get involved and to connect my Jewish values with action and activism. I really appreciate that there was space for Jews of Color at the beginning of the gathering, and I was able to connect with people with similar ideas to create a more inviting and inclusive Jewish community in this work." —Lazora Jordan, Alexandria, VA

Participants left with powerful new relationships to support their organizing, and we can’t wait to see how Jewish activists will continue to build this movement across the country. Whether you were in Philadelphia in person or in spirit, there are many ways you can take action now, too. Register for our Midwestern Regional Gathering. Join a Moral Minyan or an upcoming orientation call to find your place with Bend the Arc. And join Interrupt Trump 2018, the largest Jewish campaign to flip Congress in November.

We were made for this moment, and we can win. How do we stay hopeful in this long fight, against a problem so massive? Our sages were on to something when they said the approach is to start with half the solution and build from there.

Let’s get busy, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

 

L’shalom

Graie Barasch Hagans

National Organizer and Training Coordinator