|Each night of Hanukkah you will receive a blessing from a fellow alum straight to your inbox. These 8 blessings will serve as reminders of the kind of analysis you did during your Corps year, and the types of reflections you have continued to do on your journeys as Jewish agents for social change. Happy Hanukkah! |
It is hard enough to build sacred space, to take to the streets, to dedicate yourself to the work of creating justice. It is an even harder feat to see your space desecrated, your movement dissipate, or to feel the work that once ignited you begin to wear you down- and to keep going. Hannukah literally means dedication, but on this holiday we mark the re-dedication of the Temple after it was desecrated. In reality re-dedicating ourselves to the struggles we believe in is a far more demanding challenge then our initial commitment.
I am passionate about the growth of new movements like Occupy Wall Street, or surges in movements like the Illinois Dream Act victory. But the harder work is re-engaging. Re-engaging with community, family, and individual relationships after tensions arise and shadow the joys that came before. The harder work is re-committing to the evolving battle for civil and human rights as politics and visions fluctuate and dedicating ourselves to our everyday work of pursing justice.
Perhaps part of the Hanukkah miracle isn't that the oil lasted eight days. Perhaps part of the miracle is that a group of people who witnessed their most sacred space defiled, their ritual resources depleted, decided to rededicate the Temple instead of walking away defeated or waiting for better conditions. Often times we wish for perfect circumstances. We say, "I'll try again when I have the energy. I'll be more committed when X, Y, and Z happens." On Hannukah, our ancestors burned what little oil they had instead of waiting to re-consecrate the temple once they had enough to last.
May all of us have the courage to re-dedicate ourselves to our passions year after year with strength and with love. May all of us have the courage to start today.
Miriam Grossman (DC 09-10) was most recently a Community Organizer with a focus on Housing Justice and the Coordinator of the Jewish Muslim Community Building Initiative at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. Before she began organizing, Miriam was JCUA's Educational Programs Coordinator with an emphasis on youth social justice education from a Jewish perspective. In addition to working for JCUA, Miriam was also the publishing intern for Reclaiming Judaism Press, which featured her first published writing this year. Miriam is a recipient of the Jewish Educators Assembly's 20/20 Award for twenty emerging Jewish community leaders in their twenties and Talmud student at Svara, Chicago's Queer Yeshiva for "Traditionally Radical" Judaism.
In 2008, Miriam worked for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fighting against the seizure of sacred Lakota sites for the construction of oil pipelines. In 2009, Miriam graduated from Oberlin College and joined Avodah DC. Her placement was the So Other's Might Eat Center for Employment Training, where she worked with homeless and low-income adults on holistic basic education. Miriam is happy to return to Avodah as Chicago's Program Director. She is continually inspired by the spiritual vibrancy and call to social action that exists within the Jewish tradition.