Human Kinship and Social Justice

Lia Mandelbaum, whose popular blog Sacred Intentions appears on the Jewish Journal’s website, writes about her graduation ceremony which was held at the LGBT congregation BCC in Los Angeles last week, as a part of the Jeremiah Fellowship with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.

On May 22, I had a graduation ceremony at Beth Chayim Chadashim, to honor the completion of my nine month fellowship in the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Cohort of the Jeremiah Fellowship with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.

Screen_Shot_2013-05-24_at_11.28.31_AMI wanted to share with you the speech I had given, about my invaluable experience as a Jeremiah Fellow. Through the fellowship, I was blessed with opportunities to work collaboratively across lines of race and faith with people and communities throughout the United States to create economic opportunity and secure basic rights. I also gained the tools to engage in and help lead local community organizing campaigns, and take part in community service and advocacy. If you’re interested, please click {HERE} to check out the Bend the Arc website for information on applying to the fellowship.

My speech talks about how the best part of the entire experience was that I got to walk alongside these individuals:

At our very first Jeremiah meeting at the Westside JCC, as a way to get to know one another better, Lee asked each of us to write down two people that we see as role models. When I shared about my two hero’s, Bayard Rustin, and Raoul Wallenberg, I recognized that I was getting a bit worked up, and I became very embarrassed and could feel my face turning red. After I shared, I sunk back into my seat, and began to feel vulnerable and exposed to these unfamiliar faces. I didn’t want them to know how much I truly cared.

I had a really wonderful moment on my way home that night, where I was able to recognize and take comfort in knowing that the fellowship could potentially be the perfect space, where I could be open with likeminded individuals, about my intense passion for social justice. I felt that this could be an opportunity to expose and own different parts of myself, and ultimately help me to be a more whole individual.

I have had the opportunity to work closely with Jeremiah’s on our action project through Bend the Arcs major campaign to fight for domestic worker rights. It has been a wonderful way to step back and get to know them better as activists. Since I began the campaign, I’ve been thinking much more about the concept of home, and how it’s so important to create a sacred space where someone can feel safe, seen, respected and heard. One of the fellows talked the other night at our retreat at Brandeis Bardin, about how his involvement in the fellowship has brought him a sense of home. From what I gathered the other day at the retreat, I believe that we all on some level have felt that the Jeremiah fellowship has created a space that feels like home.  

Read the full post at the Jewish Journal