Schedule & Workshops

The National Summit took place on April 29 – 30, 2012 in New York. Read on for a taste of the workshops and sessions that were offered:

Sunday April 29th 2012

11:00am – 12:30pm      Small Group Relational Meetings

Grounding our Work Together
We began our summit learning together, guided by rabbis who organize, as we learn Jewish texts (and not the ones we’ve learned a million times) to ground our work in our tradition and open up space to reflect on our place in the world of Jewish organizing. Afterwards, we shared our stories with each other in pairs and/or small groups and looked for what we have in common and what we can learn from each other.

12:45pm – 2:45pm Opening Assembly

Taking up the Mantle: Our Legacy, Our Future
Each generation builds on the legacy of those who came before. What legacy are we building on, as Jewish organizers for social change? Schneiderman. Alinsky. Goldman. Dubinsky. Heschel. Steinem. Birnbaum. The more we know about our past, the better we can see what we have in common, understand our current historical moment, and imagine our future. Simon Greer, President and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, has worked as an organizer and social change leader in and outside of the Jewish community for more than two decades. He shared his analysis of the American Jewish organizer’s role in history and the challenges and opportunities we face now. Organizers who have played important roles in different movements reflected on his analysis, and, based on their own experiences, challenged us about the work ahead of us.

3:15pm – 4:45pm   Workshop Block 1 (choose a workshop to attend)

Building Young Adult Jewish Power, Inside and Outside of Mainstream Jewish Institutions
Though Jewish young adults represent a key constituency of Jewish activists and organizers, they are often underrepresented in Jewish institutional leadership.   How can young Jewish adults work together on social justice issue and influence the wider Jewish community to do the same?  When does it make sense for young adults to work from within Jewish institutions, and when does it make sense to create our own organizations and communities?  What are the challenges and opportunities of each?

Rabbi Margie Klein
, Interim Director of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship at JOIN for Justice & Founder and Communications Chair at Moishe Kavod House Boston


Rebecca Ennen, Communications and Development Manager at Jews United for Justice

Annie Fox, Community Organizer for the Jewish Association for Law and Social Action (JALSA) & Resident Organizer at the Moishe Kavod House

Rebecca Herst, Coordinator of Engagement and Social Justice Programs at Temple Israel of Boston

Sarah Lesser, Director of Repair the World Programming at Moishe House

Voter Mobilization Strategies to Build Power for Your Organization
This workshop looked at case studies of how multi-faith community organizations have used non-partisan voter mobilization work to build power and advance crucial issue agendas. Key strategies covered include: 1) Voter mobilization as a targeted demonstration of the power of organized people; 2) Ballot initiatives and levy campaigns; 3) Candidate accountability.  Workshop attendees left the session with the tools to evaluate their own organization’s capacity and political context, and to discern how voter mobilization work can best be used to build power.

Ari Lipman, Executive Director of the Ohio Industrial Areas Foundation

The Great Shlep and other Online Campaigns
Technology has given organizers the tools with which to reach and mobilize millions of people very quickly. Joseph Kony became a household name overnight; Bank of America ended its plans to impose a monthly debit card fee; young Jews called their grandparents to talk politics; all because of online campaigns. We examined a few campaigns that have found success using social media and other web-based platforms to draw lessons that can help advance our own work.

Mik Moore, Principal at Mik Moore Consulting and co-creator of “The Great Shlep”

Beyond the Mutual Back-Scratch: Achieving Powerful Social Movements Through Coalition Building
As organizers, we often ask ourselves: How do we connect our day-to-day work with broader movements for social and economic justice? Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the day to day, that the real change we seek in the world can seem like a mirage in the distance. In this workshop, we explored some real world examples of movement building strategies and how building power through regional coalitions is helping people bring change to their communities.

Amy B. Dean
, Fellow of The Century Foundation and Principal of ABD Ventures, LLC

Building Power as Clergy (Open to Clergy only)
Organizing is about building power to make a difference and transforming our communities, but once we’re in the field, in pulpits and organizations, it gets complicated very quickly.  What have we learned about building power and what else can we do?

5:00pm – 6:30pm     Workshop Block 2 (choose a workshop)

Creative Ritual in Action
Creative ritual can be a meaningful and important part of Jewish social justice activism and organizing.  In this session we experienced the intersection of creativity, spirituality and social justice to enhance and deepen our efforts in all three areas.  We shared an exploration of the transformational power of voice, movement and creative expression.

Rachel Galper, Art Educator & Ordained Maggid

Taya Shere, Co-Founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute & Rabbi/Spiritual Leader at Olney Kehila Congregation in Olney, MD

The Movement-Building Moment After Occupy: Organizing Underwater and At-Risk Homeowners
There is a growing alignment of community-based organizations, local Occupy groups and unions who are organizing tens of millions of underwater homeowners and homeowners facing foreclosure. The campaigns we will describe seize the energy, and opportunity, unleashed by Occupy to pioneer innovative techniques to scale and build deep local partnerships. From eviction defense to home occupations to the campaign to win $300 billion in principle write down, homeowners are fighting back and starting to win the battle with Wall Street and big banks.

Ilana Berger
, Co-Director of the New Bottom Line

Stephen Lerner, Labor and Community Organizer & Architect of the Justice for Janitors Campaign

Yotam Marom, Political organizer, Educator & Writer

Fundraising is Organizing: Raising Money With Chutzpah in Challenging Times
How can you find the pleasure and excitement in fundraising- even and especially in tough economic times? In this session, we explored this challenging question– though learning, sharing, discussion and cheerleading on raising money with chutzpah. We explored attitude adjustments about money, how fundraising is organizing, where to find major donors and any other fundraising issues we come up with together.

Marjorie Fine, Director of the Linchpin Campaign

Building Powerful, Relational Institutions (Open to Clergy only)
How are we organizing to build synagogues and other Jewish institutions that reflect our values and dreams?  How do we both build power at the center of our institutions while making sure that we not only meet our own institutional needs but also work for justice?

6:30pm – 8:30pm      Dinner on your own

8:30pm – 10:00pm     Dessert Reception & Entertainment

Born in Flames: A “Moth and More” JOIN Evening Extravaganza!
Let loose, live large, and laugh at the flaws and fiascos of Jewish organizers working to change the world. We shared an evening of storytelling, skits, and comedy that will crack you up and lift your spirits.

Stage Hosts:
Ilana Lerman
, Synagogue and Youth Organizer for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

Yavilah McCoy, founder of Ayecha

Monday April 30th, 2012

9:00am – 10:00am Relational Meetings

Our organizing flourishes when we have the opportunity to talk one-on-one, sharing our stories, concerns, and visions with people both similar to and different from us. During this session everyone had the opportunity to sit down for “relational meetings” with other Summit participants.

10:00am – 11:30am    Workshop Block 3 (Choose a workshop to attend)

Is Online Organizing BS? Why We Should Give it a Second Look
From Malcolm Gladwell to “clicktivism,” critics deride online organizing as ineffective at making real change. Others cite Facebook and Twitter as the spark for revolutions across the globe. What is online organizing good for? And what are its limitations? We talked about the bread-and-butter of online organizing, the usefulness of online petitions, and how online organizers move people up the ladder of engagement to inspire action offline. Then we workshopped campaigns from the attendees.

Noah T. Winer,
Senior Partner at Dragonfly Partners

Auburn Media Top Tips and Messaging Strategy for Speaking Prophetically to the Media
Auburn Media Training provides media expertise to religious leaders and religious expertise to the media. Recognizing that so many turn to mainstream media and the Internet for information, education and inspiration, this workshop equipped Jewish leaders to communicate effectively through media channels to communicate the stories that most need to be heard.

Rev. Kellie Anderson-Picallo
, Director of Media and Education at Auburn Media

Isaac Luria, Organizing Director at Groundswell, The Social Action Initiative of Auburn Media

Strategic Lessons of Running National Campaigns: HCAN and PICO share their experiences
Part of what makes community organizing so transformational and powerful is its rootedness in a specific place; yet, we know that the passage of public policy nationally is essential for achieving our goals. Gordon Whitman shared what PICO has learned in its efforts to develop this national capacity. Additionally, Richard Kirsch provided insights into his experiences leading the Health Care Action Network (HCAN), the central coalition working with the Obama Administration to pass national healthcare legislation.

Janice Fine, Associate Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University

Richard Kirsch, Institute Fellow at the Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government and a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Gordon Whitman, Policy Director of PICO National Network

Organizing and Mindfulness
In our spiritual lives, we may seek a place of non-judgment and acceptance of things just as they are. In our organizing work, we do not accept things as they are. We try to change them and create the world as it should be. But the two may not be irreconcilable. In this session we held a conversation about the intersection of organizing and spirituality. We explored Jewish texts and practices that can help us feel more connected, grounded and strong in our work for justice.

Rabbi David Adelson, Spiritual Leader of East End Temple Congregations

11:45am – 12:45pm   Lunch & Relational Meetings

After picking up your food, you will have another opportunity for a relational meeting over lunch with a Summit participant.

12:45pm – 2:30pm    Workshop Block 4 (Choose a workshop to attend)

Sustaining Justice Activism for the Long Haul
The common wisdom is that in our 20s we are idealists, putting our beliefs into action. And that as we “mature,” we give up on our hopes for repairing the world, believing that we can’t make a real difference anyway. Many Jewish organizers and leaders defy that stereotype and have sustained their beliefs and activism throughout their very satisfying and fulfilling lives. In this workshop, we heard about the motivations, strategies and advice that seasoned organizers have for the younger generation, and discussed whether they can work for you.

Heather Booth, Organizing Consultant & Founding Director of the Midwest Academy

Lisa Gallatin, Executive Director, Boston Workmen’s Circle, Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice

Vivian Rothstein, Deputy Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

Young Adults Take Action
This session was an opportunity for people interested in creating or strengthening Jewish social justice community for young adults.  How can we use the model of Network Organizing to create communities with low-barriers to entry and high opportunity for fun, leadership development, and effective organizing?  Working with Moishe House, AVODAH, and JOIN, young people explored how they can work together to foster organizing and community-building for young Jews in their cities.

Rabbi Margie Klein, Interim Director of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship at JOIN for Justice & Founder and Communications Chair at Moishe Kavod House  Boston

Community/Labor Coalitions and Domestic Worker Rights
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) has pioneered a model for involving our community in a powerful alliance with Domestic Workers United to improve the wages and working conditions of domestic workers. Along with JFREJ, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice has been in on the ground floor of an exciting new national campaign with the National Domestic Workers Alliance that has the potential to transform the working lives of millions of low wage women of color, as well as how we care for the elderly and people with disabilities. In this session, we examined these cases to explore the promise and the challenge of effective community/labor coalition building.

Janice Fine,
Associate Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University

Rachel McCullough, JFREJ Community Organizer for Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers Campaign

Ai-jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps and former Department of Field Mobilization for the National AFL-CIO

Clergy Caucuses
Clergy caucused by denomination or region to plan how they will continue to work together to bring organizing to their communities and help their communities realize their potential and act on their values.

Open Space
We have so much we can learn from each other, and many of us are doing interesting, important work that others could benefit from joining.  Are you hoping to find partners for your campaign? Are you hoping to get involved with something new?  Are you grappling with a question you want to think about with others? Come to this open space session, find others with similar interests, and watch as we accomplish together what we can’t do alone.

2:45pm – 4:30pm   Closing Assembly

The Journey Forward: Featuring the Presentation of the Tekiah Social Justice Award
Where do we go from here? We assembled together for a public action, where we told stories about our common vision for what the Jewish community could be and the impact it could have on the world around us if we organized, celebrated the work we’ve accomplished at the summit, and challenged ourselves to work together in the months and years ahead to realize our vision.  We also celebrated the incredible accomplishments of Rabbi Jonah Pesner and the major role that he has played bringing organizing to our community and bringing Jewish power to the struggle for justice, as we awarded him the first Tekiah Social Justice Award.