Meyer Awards 2015 Report Back
At last week’s Meyer Awards, we felt the love from our fabulous emcees Eric Ward and Linda Sarsour and wonderful presenters Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Alisa Solomon, April Baskin, and Kimberlé Crenshaw. Linda Sarsour described the long partnership and deep ties between JFREJ and the Arab American Association of New York and told us that “I love this organization from the deepest of my heart. The people in this room know what it means to be true allies.” Eric challenged us to take bold action: “It’s thanks to the people on stage tonight that we are poised to make the change, the change that our country needs.”
Our Founding Leadership brought us back to the vision that motivated them to found JFREJ 25 years ago, and Donna Nevel and Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark expressed their hope that if there are solutions to today’s challenges, JFREJ would be central in finding them.
Cynthia Greenberg captured the sentiment that JFREJ “…values justice and equity over tribalism. While any are oppressed, none are free.” She also reminded us that although “tonight is about celebration, tomorrow JFREJ will be back in action.”
As always, Jenny Romaine surprised and delighted us with a unique speech delivered in Yiddish and translated via slideshow into Farsi, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, English, Modern Hebrew, Bukhori, and Belarusian. Her theatrical performance on Wednesday continued her legacy of bringing wit and joy to the JFREJ community.
In honoring our Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers Campaign, Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform stated that “in the struggle for justice, there’s no such thing as an unlikely ally.” Gayle Kirshenbaum highlighted the same theme, noting that the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights passed due to astounding allyship: “Thank you to everyone on this stage for showing how an enduring can coalition be built, a historic law passed, and a historic movement made.”
Then Patrisse Cullors, one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter (along with Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza) led a powerful call and response chant from Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains!” Alicia Garza then called on each of us to “continue to push for integrity. Doing what you say you’ll do the way you said you’d do it. And being who you are in private, in public.”
On Wednesday we witnessed the power of leaders from many generations and communities celebrating and supporting each other and re-committing to each other and to the struggle for our mutual liberation. The night reminded us that even in the face of growing struggles, JFREJ is a powerful force for change and a community that feeds our hearts, souls, and vision. With such fantastic support and allies, we are heartened and invigorated as we continue the fight for justice.
We are especially proud of the Meyer Awards’ powerful initiative to support both Black Lives Matter and JFREJ that raised over $4500 for our two organizations. As presenter April Baskin reminded us, “By donating to grow our collective power we are building something that will last for the rest of our lives. Together, we are creating a future for ourselves by investing in each other. Because these aren’t just organizations. They’re the homes we build to love each other and fight for each other.”