Why I Belong to Tzedek Chicago

hanukkah1.jpg

by Tzedek member Liz Rose

During Yom Kippur this year, like every year, I prayed that all the different gates that shut people out will stay open. And I asked if the gates can stay open for real this time--the checkpoints and walls and roads--that shut out Palestinians from their own land.

I still said these prayers before I joined Tzedek Chicago, but I said them privately. I could not say them aloud at the other synagogues I attended. I said the private prayers about Palestine in my head and the public prayers about Israel and Zionism with others. I found a few people at other congregations with whom I could talk about Palestine, about anti-Zionism, about being shunned from family and friends. We found each other, sure, but our talks were whispered, our conversations a subculture of the temple. Now, at Tzedek Chicago, talk about Palestine and the occupation and non-Zionism doesn’t have to be in secret. Tzedek Chicago is unapologetically out.

During Yom Kippur this year, like every year, I prayed that all the different gates that shut people out will stay open. And I asked if the gates can stay open for real this time--the checkpoints and walls and roads--that shut out Palestinians from their own land.

At Tzedek Chicago, the gates become a metaphor for all oppression. We’re all urged to occupy the gates. You don’t like that the gates are closing? Plan a protest! The gates aren’t only about us. There are many others who are shut out of the gates. When these gates close for some, they are closed for all.

Tzedek Chicago is a space where Rabbi Brant Rosen can give sermons about white supremacy and about lives lost in Gaza. It’s a space where Max Blumenthal and Kathy Kelly and Craig and Cindy Corrie and lots of other people who might not be welcomed in other Jewish spaces can talk with Jews about Palestine. Palestinians don’t need a holiday to be reminded that the gates have closed on them. I need a place where I can say this aloud. That’s why I’m a member of Tzedek Chicago.