Where do you want to be in these times?

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As Jewish Community Action moves into the new year and prepares to build on our community's successes of 2012, as well as 2013's kick-off event, Speaking of Faith, we are more excited than ever to hear from the leaders and members who made this past year possible. So, this past Sunday, JCA hosted over two dozen engaged members and activists for an organizing training, briefings on ongoing and potential campaigns, and breakout sessions to discuss the issues that matter to us most.

To kick off the training, JCA organizers posed the question, "Who do you want to be in these times?" This question, from the Book of Esther, is simple, and yet it challenged all attendees to think seriously about their backgrounds, values, and hopes. Although the group was diverse--in age, nationality, history with JCA, etc.--individuals' testimonies were surprisingly consistent. "I want to use my privilege and blessings, and leverage them to help others have access to the same things," one attendee explained, as heads around the room nodded in agreement. Another JCA member, with a very different personal narrative, expressed a similar desire to help and work with others. "I just want to walk beside people and be supportive," she said.

One testimony in particular stuck out to me like a sore thumb. "I just want to live with everybody and work with everybody in this room!" one woman proclaimed, beaming with excitement. Her sincerity was palpable and contagious, and made me realize that as we contemplate who we want to be in these times, we must also consider where we want to be.

Assuming that we are all committed to Jewish values, and to the work it will take to make our neighborhoods, state, and world better and more just, do we want to do this work alone? Or do we want to do this work with a community of intelligent, gifted, and committed individuals, who will listen to us us, challenge us, and support us, through the wins and the losses?

At the start of this past Sunday's gathering, when my colleagues asked me who I want to be, I wasn't sure; I'm young, my interests are evolving, and I'm still sorting out what I want my role to be in my community. But by the end of Sunday's training, I knew where I wanted to be--right there, where I was, with new friends and allies who will support me as I figure out the who.

As we continue to strive for financial justice, immigration reform, and the freedom to marry in Minnesota, and pursue potential campaigns in gun violence prevention, environmental justice, and much more, JCA is thrilled and honored to be your home for the work ahead.

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