Why is it essential for Jewish women to commit to marching at the Women’s March in Washington DC on January 19, 2019?
As conflict continues to blow up around the 2019 Women’s March and as Jewish organizations pull out and rescind their endorsements, I confess that I feel the hot breath of history blowing on my neck, calling me to reject the false narrative which claims that the only way to combat anti-Semitism or racism is to erase one another. And I feel the dangerous chill of another false narrative being framed, in which it will be recounted that Jewish women brought down the Women’s March.
As hard as it may be, we need to keep walking in the right direction.
Women have been determined to build intersectional social movements that will lead to our collective liberation. These are movements that reflect both our multiple identities and that reach across diverse communities. Despite our efforts at connection, there, of course, remains much that we do not know, understand or appreciate about one another. And that actually is a reasonable starting point.
I am thinking back to the first Women’s March where so many women from so many backgrounds gathered to launch the resistance and to learn how to cultivate the individual and collective resilience that allows us to keep advancing, no matter how many setbacks we face. It seemed impossible to bring so many people together with such a unity of spirit across difference of identities. And yet, we did it!
Social movements like the Women’s March collaborated to galvanize folks across the country to take action — to protect the undocumented, save affordable health care, protest the Kavanaugh nomination and elect a new Congress that can influence the critical 2020 elections; this is no small accomplishment. These movements keep hope alive through hard times and small wins and expand our capacity to keep going when so many want us to give up.
Many of us know that this is a critical time to stay at the table. To stay and talk and build an agenda based on the Women’s March Unity Principles that reflect so many of our core commitment, including the need to fight anti-Semitism. We need to stay at the table to have robust conversations about the realities of our lives and our histories, and about the ways in which racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia and ableism prevent us from fulfilling our potential. Radical empathy that allows us to hear new truths and evolve, is a key part of the beauty and strength of a woman-led movement.
Of course, anti-Semitic conversations have no place in feminist environments, and I wish that Louis Farrakhan had no people at all in attendance at his rallies to listen to his despicable, virulent rants. I also wish that more white Jews would make it the highest priority to join with Jews of Color to dismantle racism inside our communities and in the world.
Right now our democratic infrastructure is fragile and we must make sure that our movements are not moments but growing eco-systems where the new world we aspire to build will come fully into view. Social movements get their power from our collective participation and we Jewish women are critical. That’s why I am working with Yavilah McCoy and other Jewish feminist and Jewish Women of Color leaders to mobilize Jewish women to come to Washington DC on January 19 to attend the Women’s March and stand with our banner: “Jewish Women March for Justice.”
We can make substantive progress with the help of thoughtful debate, dialogue and athletic listening. Learning how to disagree and still move forward together is an essential part of honoring our history, and the future of the people whom we love.
Certainly, there is no doubt that Jewish women have been on the frontlines of the new social movements — from electing women to Congress, to the whistleblowers of the #MeToo movement, to leading and inspiring rallies and direct actions with the Women’s March around the nation.
Jewish women must not step out but step up to the challenge of showing up as the committed, caring, complex people that we are, in our precious, still very young and fresh intersectional movements.