In the fall of 2015, we launched Don’t Kvetch, Organize! and have since trained over 700 people across the country through the course. Below are what a few of them had to say about the experience:
Featured stories from our participants:
“There’s nothing better than this course for synagogue leaders.” Dru Greenwood lives in Massachusetts, and signed up for the 2019 course Don’t Kvetch, Organize! to support her work at Temple Israel and with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.
“The course was a paradigm shift for me”: Rickie Kashdan lives in New Jersey, and signed up for our 2019 Don’t Kvetch, Organize! course as a member of the Reform Jewish Voice of NJ, which is an affiliate of the Religious Action Center.
“Trust the process and jump in!”: Fran Zamore lives in Maryland, and signed up for our 2019 Don’t Kvetch, Organize! course as a member of Jews United for Justice, in order to learn how to be a more effective activist.
“I was seeking to develop an organizer’s toolbox… and I got it”: Jake Ehrlich lives in Michigan, and signed up for our 2019 Don’t Kvetch, Organize! course to support his work with Congregation T’chiyah and Detroit Jews for Justice. JOIN talked with Jake a few weeks after the course ended to share his experience in the course.
“Do you want to agonize or do you want to make real change?”: Rabbi Amy Eilberg lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and signed up for our 2019 Don’t Kvetch, Organize! course to support her work at Faith in Action and with Truah.
The Pledge: Micha Thau took the course while at the Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles. Through his internship at Eshel, an organization that works to create community and acceptance for LGBTQ Jews and their families in Orthodox communities, he took JOIN’s online course. Using skills from the course, he decided to create “The Pledge” which includes a series of promises Jewish high schools can take to protect gay and lesbian students.
Like Daughter, Like Mother: Stephanie Kogan, mother of community organizer Elana Kogan, took JOIN’s online course, in Spring 2016. In this piece, Stephanie shares how the course has impacted and strengthened the work she is doing, and about the special experience of taking this course as the parent of an organizer.
“Let’s be bold”: A story of two JOIN trained leaders: Stephanie Blumenkranz, formerly the Assistant Director at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York (JWFNY) and now at the Hadassah Foundation, and Julie Sissman is a member of JWFNY’s New York Metropolitan Grants and Advocacy Committees. Using skills from the online course, they worked with JWFNY to adopt a groundbreaking policy stating they will only accept grant applications from organizations with a high standard of paid parental leave policies. They are the first foundation in the Jewish and secular communities to establish a criterion of this type.
L’dor Vador (From Generation to Generation): In Fall 2016, we had three special participants in our online course. These participants were parents of fellows in our Jewish Organizing Fellowship Program. This piece highlights the beautiful stories and reflections of the parents’ experiences taking the online course and how their justice work and relationships were strengthened because of it.
What our alumni are saying:
“I feel ready to embrace taking action with confidence, as a leader. I understand the crucial nature of boldness and courage as I work alongside others to bring change. Listening, storytelling, and building relationships one by one is the route to strategic action. I not only came to understand the power of action but also that it needs to be interwoven with hope and belief in a positive outcome aligned with Jewish values.”
“I learned a great deal about organizing effective and sustainable campaigns.”
“This has been an amazing fast-track introduction to the Social Justice organizing world. I notice the difference now when I read about any campaign…how to think about it, what I think is being done well or not so well, what I think might enhance it, instead of passively noting a campaign but not feeling attached/interested in any direct way.”
“I learned organizing skills that are applicable and valuable to so many kinds of work, both professional and volunteer. The organizing skills taught in this course are really life skills that everyone should know.”
“The salient point from the course for me, as I attend meetings and build relationships to reach our goals, is the Jewish character of this work. The deep understanding and requirement to pursue justice and respect every individual’s dignity echoes across time and place. Particularly in such a diverse community as Los Angeles. I am grateful to have the ability and opportunity to add my voice. and be part of the solution to very serious problems that may not affect me directly – but which do harm my community – my extended family.”
“One key message that I am taking away from this course is the idea that Judaism is a radical tradition. The themes of justice and equity are embedded throughout Jewish tradition. Woven into even the most mainstream of rituals (like Shabbat, for example). Before this class, I felt like I had a few explicit connection points between Judaism and my social justice values. Now I feel like the whole of Jewish tradition is a connection. I am excited to continue to wake up to the radical potential in everyday Judaism–drawing upon it as I continue my work.”
“I LOVED the videos and the Jewish focus of the course.”
“I truly appreciated the time spent throughout this course. I value not only the materials presented by the trainers but learning from each other as well. I enjoyed hearing reactions from a variety of perspectives & backgrounds. I learned not only much about important aspects of organizing but also a bit about myself. I realized some hindering attitudes I have about power, my own political naivete & resistance. I look forward to sharing much of the information gathered with others from my congregation & my greater community.”
“One big thing I’ve learned is that there is this vast network of Jews actively fighting for social justice, and in particular using organizing, and connecting it to their Jewish heritage. In recent years I became familiar with JOIN and one temple here in Boston that is social justice-oriented, but previously did not really connect Judaism with justice, and I LOVE this connection. In connection with this is an understanding of the years-long organizing campaigns that were behind many of the small and large social changes I have seen in my lifetime. I am thrilled to have a better, more comprehensive understanding, of how positive social change is made.”
“Applying the course concepts to a real challenge helped me refine my thinking and demonstrated that I truly understood the concepts. I’d been around organizing, and people who were organizing, but never had anyone explain to me exactly what organizing is and what it can do. This course did that for me.”
“I learned so much!”