From Susan Bass –
I wanted to share this memo from Daryl Messinger regarding the upcoming National Women’s March. This position is aligned with the one taken by WRJ, for both the upcoming march and the one organized in 2017. While WRJ is not officially endorsing the national march, we do support women who choose to march in DC or in any of the local marches, and encourage those who march to do so together as WRJ women.
From: Daryl Messinger, North American Board Chair
Date: December 14, 2018
Re: National Women’s March
A national Women’s March is planned for January 19, 2019 in Washington, DC, with satellite marches planned in other North American cities.
Across our Movement, there is deep and widespread support for the issues that have inspired the Women’s March: women’s rights, economic justice, racial justice, criminal justice, an end to gender-based violence, reproductive freedom, pay equity, worker justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities, immigrant justice and more. These are values that our Movement has long prioritized, advocated for and mobilized around.
At the same time, comments from and actions taken by some of the March’s organizers have caused pain in our community. These comments, which do not necessarily relate to topics addressed by the March itself, have nonetheless raised difficult questions about how and with whom we are to be in coalition when our values or worldview may not be entirely shared. We have remained firm in our commitment to honest and open dialogue even when – especially when – the conversations are hard.
Over the past few months, we have heard thoughtful input from congregations and leaders across our Movement on whether the URJ should formally endorse the National March. The diversity and intensity of those viewpoints make it clear that there is no consensus on this subject. For that reason, we have decided on the following path forward:
As was the case for the 2017 march, the URJ will not formally add its name as an endorser or sponsor of the 2019 National Women’s March. At the same time, we will support congregations and congregants who choose to participate in the March. The Religious Action Center will designate a gathering site where Reform Jews can meet and proceed together to the March. We believe the march is bigger than its organizers; it is the collective voice of the millions of women and allies participating, not just those who claim to lead it. We see far more places where we are in agreement with those millions of women than disagreement.
Local Women’s Marches are inspired but not organized by the national leadership. As your congregation or you decide whether to participate in a local March, we encourage you to explore the local March’s platform and leadership and make your decision accordingly.
As a movement, and as individual congregations, we must be conscious of how our agenda relates to those we are in coalition with. When we find ourselves in disagreement, we need to voice our concerns in a constructive manner. And just as we expect other communities to speak out against those who diminish or demonize Jews, we must be willing to call out those in our own community whose rhetoric towards others is hurtful and discriminatory. We must address these biases with education and training if we are to be welcoming communities for all. Above all, we will continue to speak and act powerfully on the range of issues that have inspired the March.
>> Watch for details of local marches around the country <<
Ann Arbor, MI
Women March On for Justice, Ann Arbor –
March 16, 2019, 2-5pm, Michigan Diag
PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW DATE! On Saturday, March 16th, 2019, unite in Ann Arbor to rally in celebration of Women’s History Month at the “Women March on for Justice.” The organizers of the 2017 and 2018 marches–and the 2018 March for Survivors–are organizing.
This inclusive rally is a peaceful, accessible event. March organizers are working to provide, as at our previous rallies, ASL interpreters and an ADA section. There will be both a March and a Rally. The Progressives at the University Michigan are organizing in partnership with Women’s March Ann Arbor, an all-volunteer grassroots group.
For those unsure about joining Women’s March, here is a note from Marla Feldman, Exec Dir of WRJ written on November 8th:
“This has been a really interesting conversation and it reflects the discussion that took place among the WRJ leadership in advance of the first march. That is why we left it to individuals to make their own decisions and though we did not endorse the march officially, we nonetheless supported those who chose to march. There are few things you might consider in deciding whether or not to participate, either as a sisterhood group or as an individual:
-Local marches are independent from the main Woman’s March. If you are thinking about joining a local march, check out who the local organizers are and any official statements they issue as part of the march and make your assessment accordingly.
-While two (but certainly not all) of the lead organizers of the Women’s March have been associated with positions that are of concern to the Jewish community (one is a support of Farrakhan and the other is a pro-Palestinian activist), to my knowledge there is nothing anti-Semitic or problematic in the stated goals and objectives of the Women’s March. Tamika Mallory is a devotee of Farrakhan, though I don’t think she has herself espoused his anti-Semitic or other biased views. Linda Sarsour is a pro-Palestinian activist who is anti-Zionist yet has raised funds to support repairing vandalized Jewish cemeteries. Neither have denounced their other affiliations nor have they outright rejected the Antisemitism promoted by Farrakhan and others. However, the Women’s March official statement has clearly articulated that Antisemitism is in conflict with the stated positions of the Women’s March.
-In any coalitional effort you can never guarantee that every person agrees with every position you have; you have to go by the stated objectives of that particular coalition, knowing that your coalition partners may disagree on other matters, and decide whether or not to participate on that basis. Nor can you be guaranteed that every person speaking at a march will always say things with which you agree. This is the crux of the dilemma – do you join the march because you share the stated goals despite the presence of some women who you oppose on other matters? Or do you refuse to participate in any event in which those women have leadership roles, and thus stay away and cede the feminist space to them? (This reminds me of Ben Gurion’s famous statement during the British Mandate of Palestine urging Jews to support the British as if there was no White Paper (limiting Jewish immigration) yet also oppose the White Paper as if there was no war in Europe.)
-If groups of WRJ women choose to march despite these concerns, I would encourage you to go together and bring signage showing your commitment to Judaism, feminism, and justice. That will be a very powerful statement to make before the other people marching.
This is certainly not an easy decision for any of us. Yet we can’t shy away from the discussion as we will continue to face these kinds of questions in the future as we continue to work in coalitions. Thank you for the thoughtful comments you have all shared – keep them coming!”