Sessions & Workshops

Learn, grow, and take action at the Pursuing Justice 2020 sessions and workshops.

Organizers, experts, teachers, and facilitators from across our movement will lead a robust agenda of sessions over two full days. We will add to this list as more workshops and sessions are finalized.

May 3–5, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.
MARRIOTT WARDMAN PARK

Pursuing Justice 2020 Workshops

Speakers: to be announced

What becomes possible when we use the virtual megaphone at our fingertips to help our movements win? Every organizer can use digital tools to spread the word about events, to amplify actions in real time, and to bring more people into the movement. Join this session to learn the skills and strategy needed to harness (or create) moments that mobilize masses and shift narratives. This session will give you an up-close overview of digital tools that can spread the word about public actions, including Facebook Live, live-tweeting, promotion, amplification, social media toolkits, and more.

Speakers: Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz; Eddie Chavez Calderon

Debates over immigration are not new: religious leaders have been discussing it for millennia. What do Jewish texts instruct us about immigration, and how can they guide our work today? In this workshop we’ll explore contemporary conversations about immigration through Biblical and Talmudic teachings on immigrants and personal stories about life as an immigrant. 

*Beit Midrash is a designated space or time for studying the teachings of the Torah.

Speakers: to be announced

In the Exodus story, Torah teaches that an erev rav (“mixed multitude”) left Pharoah’s Egypt to wander together in the desert towards freedom. What does it take to put our bodies on the line and participate directly in the struggle for justice and liberation? In this session we’ll discuss the ways resistance movements used nonviolent direct action in Torah, and what Jewish movements today can learn from these teachings. We’ll explore theory and research on the success of nonviolent civil disobedience, and practice critical skills for building nonviolent movements rooted in Jewish identity.

Speakers: Rabbi David Jaffe, Abby Levine, Yehudah Webster

Moral imagination can create hope where there was despair, and resilience where there was discouragement. Join this interactive session to learn how Jewish spiritual practices drawn from Mussar (applied Jewish ethics) and Chassidut (applied Jewish mysticism) can help progressive activists approach interpersonal and communal challenges. Session facilitators from Inside Out Wisdom and Action’s Ovdim Leaders Cohort will share their experiences with these practices, leading scenarios that teach several practices, provide a chance to try them out, and understand how to apply them to bring new perspective, grounding and creativity to your activism.

Speakers: Allegra Heath-Stout; Rabbi Julia Watts Belser

Our current political struggles—healthcare access, immigrant rights, climate justice, and more—have big implications for disability communities. Too often, our movements fail to center disability perspectives or prioritize accessibility. Challenging ableism, expanding accessibility, and fighting for disability rights and justice are vital for progressive movements. In this interactive workshop with two disabled Jewish leaders, we will discuss critical frameworks for recognizing the social and political dimensions of disability. We’ll explore concrete tools to make your work more accessible and strategize together about how to pursue justice for and with disabled people, both within and beyond Jewish communities.

Speakers: Dr. Catherine Orsborn, Scott Simpson, and Maya Berry

Fear is a weapon used to divide us. In a time when American Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim are increasingly, intentionally targeted and demonized, it is more important than ever to confront and move past that fear in order to build the safe, diverse communities we deserve. In this workshop we’ll discuss effective ways to advocate against a narrative of fear and divisiveness. Learn about the most effective research, tools, and strategies that community and faith leaders can use to counter anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias, discrimination, and violence in every community as well as in national debate.

Speakers: to be confirmed

“Our movements themselves have to be healing, or there’s no point in them.” – Cara Page, Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective

We are in a time of widening and deepening understandings of the roles that healing and resilience must play in movements for justice. In this session, learn about the framework of healing justice and hear from Jewish organizers who have experience working with trauma, healing, and resilience to strengthen their work for justice. Leave with concrete ideas as well as practices for how healing and resilience can strengthen your organizing.

Speakers: to be announced

If we remain on current trends, it will take African-Americans 228 years and Latinx people 84 years to close the racial wealth gap with white people. Ending financial abuse targeted at families of color is a crucial part of making this happen. Join this session to explore ways our current system exacerbates the wealth gap and how faith-based organizing is mobilizing to address these persistent disparities. Hear from the Faith & Credit Roundtable, a diverse group of faith leaders changing conversations around issues of wealth, class, and race with policymakers as well as their own membership.

Speakers: Amelia Paradise, Chris Messinger, Diana Falchuk, Franny Silverman, Helen Bennett

With a critical mass of Jews taking action against racism and white supremacy — many for the first time — there is particular need for white Jews to interrupt whiteness and act in solidarity with other targeted communities. In this session presented by members of Tzedek Lab’s white folks caucus, we’ll discuss and embody how white Jews can challenge and support their communities to take accountable action to end white supremacy. The session will focus on Jews who self-identify as white racially and may identify ethnically in myriad ways. This session is participatory and encourages vulnerability.

Speakers: to be announced

2020 is one of the most crucial election years of our lifetimes. What are we going to do differently this time to avoid a repeat of 2016? What are the crucial states, counties, demographics, and procedural fights that could tip the balance of power? It might not be what you’d expect! In this session get expert analysis of electoral strategy from experts who know it best. We’ll also discuss what you — you! — can do to help us win in 2020.

Speakers: Sasha Raskin-Yin; Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer

Who belongs in the United States? Immigration debates and xenphobic rhetoric have always been a part of our political and civil history and contemporary discourse. As they both ramp up, it is imperative to understand the roots and impacts of our immigration systems. In this workshop with Avodah and HIAS, we’ll explore how the forceful seizure of land, people, wealth, and power was legalized and how white supremacy and white nationalism are part of U.S. policy as a result. Using the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and the crisis at the U.S./Mexico border as case studies, we will explore how today’s policies are a continuation of this trajectory and develop action plans to serve as allies and advocates for impacted people.

Speakers: Sivan Battat; Tom Haviv

How are Mizrahi and Sephardi cultural organizers responding to the current political moment, and what can we all learn from their work? In this workshop, led by two Mizrahi cultural workers, we’ll explore the nature of Mizrahi/Sephardi cultural organizing and its relevance to movement and justice work. Learn about Mizrahi and Sephardi arts and activism across diasporas over the past 100 years, as well as strategy and application for today. We’ll also consider lessons that organizers working on issues like Jewish-Muslim solidarity, anti-racism, and fighting antisemitism and white supremacy can learn from Mizrahi/Sephardi organizing. The workshop will be a space for political imagination, and visioning a multi-ethnic Jewish future in the diasporas.

Speakers: Tamara Fish, Megan Madison, Hazzan Sabrina Sojourner

What work, perspectives, and inspirations would emerge if the starting point for engaging racial justice were determined by Jews of Color (JOC)? What might arise from our interests, passions, and insights when we decide what the conversation ought to look like? This workshop is a starting point for a re-visioning a re-forming of Judaism with regards to racial justice from within our own cultural traditions. Accordingly, this workshop is exclusively by Jews of Color for Jews of Color. If you do not identify as a Jew of Color, please do not attend this session. The speakers invite non-JOC allies to visit the Khazbar table at the conference to engage with them about the session topic.

*Note: this session is only open to people who identify as Jews of Color

Speakers: Tamara Fish, Megan Madison, Hazzan Sabrina Sojourner

Are reparations for African-Americans a Jewish justice issue? Reparations are not simply for slavery, but for the legacy of slavery’s white supremacist laws and polices that maginalized and segregated people of color. We invite participants to explore how selected government policies of the 20th century affected the socio-economic trajectories of their families. We will then consider how Jewish texts address restitution and/or reconciliation, especially for slavery. We do not expect to arrive at an answer. We do expect to approach a difficult subject matter openly, constructively, and respectfully.

Speakers: to be announced

As a field, philanthropy depends on wealth that has been built over generations from the systematically exploited labor of people of color, while reserving decision-making power for people who are wealthy and white. Mirroring the country’s racial wealth gap, just seven percent of U.S. philanthropic resources go to communities of color on average each year. In this conversation we will discuss how people of conscience with wealth can best deploy their resources and access in partnership with POC-led progressive movements for justice, and transform the practice of philanthropy to be an engine for building a thriving multiracial democracy.

Speakers: Yael Silk, Sara Stock Mayo, Jonathan Mayo, and Harry Hochheiser

Following the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, the local Bend the Arc minyan leaders came together in mourning and in action. Join this session to hear about how they combined deep Jewish references, compelling messaging, and art to speak truth to power. Together, we will unpack the structures and strategies that made it possible to quickly achieve a major action in a short timeframe and leverage the temporary spotlight while managing personal and communal trauma. Participants will have the opportunity to apply lessons learned from Pittsburgh to their geographic contexts and participate in some “artivism.”

Speakers: Rachel Plattus, Nadav David and Kate Poole

From billionaires to unjust wars, there are some big problems with our current economic and governance systems. What would more democratic, just, and sustainable versions look like? In this participatory workshop we’ll learn about the forces at work in our current systems and how to build the alternatives we deserve. We’ll lift up innovative strategies in use right now, as well as Jewish histories and herstories of mutualism and solidarity economies that have returned wealth and decision-making power to communities. This session will provide analysis and strategies to take home and put into action.

Speakers: Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife, Kohenet Rae Abileah, Kohenet Liviah (Laurie) Wessely-Baldwin, Kohenet Rakia Sky Beimel, Shoshana Brown, Rachel Kann

Since ancient times, Jewish ritual has been integrated into our lives, and with each ritual act, we return to ourselves, remembering our collective story and drawing from a well of blessing. Join us for an interactive session where we’ll explore how Jewish ritual and practice can be woven into activism both as a way of grounding us in positive resource and also as a way for us to hold space as allies. Whether we call it tradition, embodied practice, or connecting to our ancestors, rituals are fundamental to our capacity to take action from a deeply resourced place.

Speakers: Brandon Mond, Kendra Watkins, more to be announced

The effects of rising white nationalism are evident from the White House to Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to Poway. Unfortunately, antisemitic violence feels familiar for those of us who have been on the frontlines of resistance to white nationalism for decades. But fortunately, we’ve learned some things along the way! Join this session to hear from Jews organizing in the South and Midwest, who know firsthand that working across difference isn’t optional: solidarity, coalition-building, and a deep commitment to racial justice are essential. Join this intimate conversation about what we’ve learned, what we’ve been building while no one was looking, and how we plan to win!

Speakers: Hannah Klein

Have you ever heard a story so powerful that it moved you to shift your worldview or take action? Telling stories has deep roots in Jewish tradition and organizing work. In order to create social change, we need to be able to explain why this work is important to us personally. Whether it’s in casual conversation, at work, with our legislator, a reporter, or on a rally stage, sharing our stories is one of the most powerful tools we have for building relationships and the future we want to see. Join this session to explore the power of centering our personal stories in our work and begin crafting your own story for social change.

Speakers: Sanaa Abrar; Heron Greenesmith; Rev. Alba Onofrio; Arielle Gingold

White supremacy is woven into the fabric of our nation whether we see it or not. In particular, the discourse around child welfare and immigration issues often leaves out the fundamental and oppressive underpinnings upon which each system is built and maintained. In this workshop we’ll explore how to actually see how white supremacy is institutionalized in the United States in these two case studies, and what we can do to help dismantle these systems. We’ll also explore a significant piece of this puzzle in this conversation—how the Christian right acts as the moral basis for the insidious logic of white supremacy, in these systems and beyond.

Speakers: Dove Kent, Ben Lorber, David Schwartz

The white nationalist movement is a growing force in the United States today. Responsible for deadly attacks on Jews, immigrants, and other marginalized communities, the white nationalist movement holds antisemitism at its core and is fueled by extreme misogyny, anti-immigrant racism, and white supremacy. The movement is influencing right-wing leaders from President Trump to Fox News anchors and is shaping the worldview of millions of Americans. In this workshop we’ll hear expert analysis from Political Research Associates on the white nationalist movement and from staff at JOIN and Bend the Arc about what campaigns that successfully fight it look like.

Speakers: Arielle Gingold, Amy Fischer, Matt Hom, Sue Ellen Dodell, Barry Price

What do we get when grassroots activists and professional advocates in Washington have a Congressional representative’s staff on speed dial, steadily working together to help a representative be the best they can be? Progressive power. In this session we’ll discuss how the relational building blocks of power fit together, as well as how activists working locally can collaborate with advocates in Washington to shift policies, protect communities, and bring us closer to multiracial democracy.

Speakers: Sarah Hartman

As Jewish communities in the U.S. grapple with our own racism and classism, we — all of us — need to have an honest discussion about the barriers to equity that exist and how it impacts members of our communities, in particular, Jews of Color, working class, and poor Jews. To overcome these barriers and create equitable communities where all Jews are affirmed, we must shift power. In this workshop, we will go through an experiential process to understand issues of inequity at the intersection of race and class within the Jewish community and learn concrete solutions to address them.

Presented By

Bend the Arc is uniting a movement of tens of thousands of progressive Jews across the country who are fighting for justice and equality for all. We are the only national Jewish organization focused exclusively on social change in the U.S.

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