Justice, Mishegas, Uncategorized

What To Do With A Year

cross-posted at Diverge (www.idiverge.wordpress.com)
Before a lot of other things could happen to me, I needed to live on the first floor of a large Victorian house in Jamaica Plain, MA, with three other Jews. There were four more Jews upstairs, and two cats, and some plants and books and for a while, cable. We moved into the house in August 2001, and I remember watching the news in the weeks after September 11th, but eventually, the cable  disappeared, but not before I, like the rest of the world, had become completely saturated with the images.
I came to Boston after  graduating college to spend the year as a Jewish Organizing Initiative Fellow, a program that empowers young Jewish leadership with organizing skills in order to build strong communities predicated on social and economic justice. There were twelve of us that year, some of us living in that Victorian house, some in other parts of the city, all working in community organizations and meeting once a week to meet and talk with members of the Boston Jewish community and as a fellowship, talk about justice, identity, privilege, power and what it meant to create and live in a pluralistic Jewish space.
As soon as I learned about JOI, I knew it was the only thing I could see myself doing when I graduated. I needed a Jewish community,a self reflective, imaginative one grounded in progressive values, where, as a Jew and an activist, I could  push at my edges. My year with JOI taught me that not only could I be an organizer (a new and terrifying concept to me), but I could use the best parts of myself to do it. I am the person I am now because of how JOI challenged me  in my work, my feminism, my allyship and my idea of myself as a Jew. It was long, hard, honest year, of impact and reward and movement.
JOI has changed a lot since I was a fellow (i.e. folks no longer live together), so to learn about its current incarnation, visit http://www.jewishorganizing.org . If you’re between the ages of 21 and 30, eligible to work in the US, frustrated, hopeful, committed to change-making, and identify as Jewish, apply to JOI. The application deadline for the 2011-2012 Fellowship is March 18th.

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