Turning Seventy

Vigil in Ann Arbor

Today I turned seventy.

Six days ago I joined between 300 and 400 fellow Ann Arborites and friends for a vigil at the Ann Arbor Federal Building to bring attention to the deportation of refugees and the conditions at the detention centers. We were one of 743 vigils that took place all over the country and around the world, 26 in Michigan alone.

Among the participants were many young people, my intergenerational peers, who are the age now that my peers and I were in the sixties and seventies when we organized successfully for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War. The Movement is in good hands. I saw old friends, including one who helped me bring collective bargaining to Eastern Michigan University adjunct faculty over twenty years ago, the first labor union for adjuncts in the state of Michigan.

 

We heard powerful speeches and inspiring stories. One of my biggest complaints with the vigil was the absence of today’s songs to action. But I was inspired by “This Little Light of Mine” and “I Shall Be Released,” two powerful songs from my era. I could barely sing along as I choked back tears. Then one young immigrant girl read a poem as the crowd wept.

 

The signs depicted a rich community of peace and love. The term “concentration camp” was used freely but not ubiquitously to describe the detention centers. As an American Jew with as much Holocaust street cred as any other American Jew, I am not hung up over the term or possessive of its use anywhere outside World War II Europe, as some appear to be, It does no disrespect to the six million, including many of my own relatives, who perished in what my Great Uncle Mortsie referred to as “the tsouris.” which loosely means “pain in the butt.”

Are today’s camps as bad as the Holocaust camps at their worst? Obviously no right now. No one, to our general knowledge, is being gassed or incinerated.

But we are moving in that direction as deaths increase at the camps, family separations continue, and the First Amendment is attacked as the enemy of the people. Now is the time to employ the full strength and impact of our noble legacy to help put a stop to it. Never again.

Still Protesting and Loving Fifty Years Later

That was six days ago. Today I turned seventy. I can’t believe I’m still protesting and organizing. Next year will be fifty years since my first political arrest during the Kent State demonstrations. When you do time in solitary confinement, it changes your world perspective, even if it is only overnight and for something as innocuous as not signing your fingerprints. I’ve been an activist ever since.

Personally, I’ve fallen and gotten back up. I’m grateful for an overall joyous, meaningful life and am still looking ahead to new adventures. Emily and I are celebrating our fortieth year of marriage. (Has anyone alive not seen our pictures from Alaska?) I love my immediate family, my extended family, my personal and political friends, and my new business associates. At a time when my high school classmates are retiring, I’m starting a new career as a book coach, editor, and speaker, and I’m having the best time I’ve had in years.

Ken’s New Book

The ebook version of my new book, You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You, is now available at a special preorder price. The softcover version will be available for preorder in November. If you’re even thinking about writing a book or know someone who is, get both versions so it’s always accessible. I’ve shared a ton of information, told some good stories, interviewed experts when they knew more than I did on any topic, and responded to critics of earlier drafts.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my life. Despite the tsouris that we always will have to deal with, life is good if you keep the vision and laugh often.

Love, The ebook version of my new book,

is now available at a special preorder price.

Ken

 

 

Historic Joint Signing for Sanctuary Support to Take Place at Genesis

An historic event is taking place at Genesis of Ann Arbor in the building shared by Temple Beth Emeth (TBE) and St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church (STC), 2309 Packard Street in Ann Arbor.

On Wednesday June 13, the president of TBE, the senior warden of STC, and the president of Genesis will come together to publicly sign a joint declaration of support for the nationwide Sanctuary movement.

An opening prayer by TBE Rabbi Josh Whinston and a closing prayer by Reverend James C Rhodenhiser Jr. will frame the event.

The event, which begins at 6:30, is co-sponsored by Genesis and Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary.Genesis is the corporation that was set up between the two congregations in 1976 to operate and maintain the building. The creation of Genesis became the first known instance in the country of two congregations of different faiths co-owning and operating the same building. At the event, they will officially sign the first joint declaration of support for the Sanctuary movement.

Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary is the interfaith coalition of congregations and individuals throughout Washtenaw County that came together to support immigrants and their families in the local community in response to harsh, unjust activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the community.The event will be emceed by Mary Anne Perrone, a member of the leadership team of Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) and co-founder of WCS.

The achievement is the result of a year-long campaign led by the TBE-STC Joint Sanctuary Committee to educate both congregations about the urgency of supporting the movement.According to Shoshana Mandel, chair of the TBE Social Action Committee (SAC):

For the past year, SAC has been working on and then collaborating with STC to formulate a Sanctuary Motion and declaration of our commitment to the Sanctuary effort. We have hosted numerous educational events on this and related topics. And we have arrived! So many people have volunteered their time, effort, passion, and love for justice into this effort.

A reception hosted by a joint committee from Temple Beth Emeth, St. Clare, and Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary will follow the signing.

Please join us at this public event to witness and celebrate the historic signing and share the feast of solidarity and justice.

Is Sanctuary Coming to Temple Beth Emeth?: Upcoming Events

More immigrant families were deported or torn apart under the administration of President Obama than under any previous administration. The growing sanctuary movement in this country began under his administration, not Trump’s.

But he was a nice guy, he was handsome, he could talk in complete sentences with multisyllabic words, he didn’t embarrass us around the world, and he had what appeared to be a functional family. So he was given a pass by a lot of progressives who feared that attacking him would lead to someone worse.

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Well, now we’ve got someone worse. Trump and his gang of pirates are so unhinged, the entire world is in hysterics with laughter and terrified with horror at the same time. Immigrant families are being stalked outside churches, outside schools, and outside homes. In Ann Arbor this summer, Sava’s Restaurant was raided by immigration authorities looking for undocumented workers; and long-time Ann Arbor resident Lourdes Salazar Bautista, mother of three U.S.-citizen children, was sent back to Mexico, where she hasn’t lived for over twenty years.

Hearing the Call

Religious congregations around the country are hearing the call. They are drawing from their respective religious teachings, practices, and histories and embracing the sanctuary movement. But what does that mean? How does a congregation do sanctuary? What are its goals?

One congregation that has heard the call and is exploring what that means is Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor’s Reform Jewish congregation. With a unanimous vote by Rabbi Josh Whinston, board president Carol Freedman-Doan, and the board of trustees, TBE’s Social Action Committee (SAC) was encouraged to become active in the local sanctuary movement and educate the congregation about what sanctuary means and how to do it.

In my upcoming article in the September issue of Washtenaw Jewish News, “Birmingham Temple Declares Itself Sanctuary; Is TBE Next?,” I talk about what’s happening at TBE. The article includes interviews with and comments from the board presidents and rabbis of Birmingham Temple, in Farmington Hills, and Temple Sinai, in Washington, DC, two Jewish congregations that already have declared themselves sanctuaries. Please share it widely.

Meanwhile, SAC is pleased to present its first four events encouraged by the board. You don’t have to be a TBE member to attend. All are free. Don’t miss them if you care about social justice and live anywhere near TBE, which is located on Packard Road between Stadium and Eisenhower.

 Calendar of Social Action Committee Events

Saturday, August 19 | 12-1:15 pm | TBE Adult Lounge

Guest speaker: Mary Anne Perrone

Should Temple Beth Emeth become a sanctuary community? What does that mean and how does a congregation do sanctuary? What are the ramifications? Why is sanctuary even necessary and what is its goal? The Social Action Committee answers these questions and more in its second Community Conversation. Special presentation from guest speaker Mary Anne Perrone, a member of the leadership team of Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) and co-founder of Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary (WCS).

Monday, August 28 | 7:-00 – 9:00 | TBE Sanctuary (ironically)

Film: The Other Side of Immigration

Based on over 700 interviews in Mexican towns where about half the population has left to work in the United States, The Other Side of Immigration asks why so many Mexicans come to the U.S. and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind. Through an approach that is both subtle and thought provoking, director Roy Germano provides a perspective on undocumented immigration rarely witnessed by American eyes, challenging audiences to imagine more creative and effective solutions to the problem.

Saturday, September 9 | 11:30 am-12:30 pm | TBE Adult Lounge

Guest speaker: Margo Schlanger

How will becoming a sanctuary congregation affect TBE’s liability? What legal issues will arise? Will the congregation’s nonprofit status be threatened? The Social Action Committee answers these questions and more in its third Community Conversation. Special presentation from guest speaker Margo Schlanger, University of Michigan Law professor who is part of the legal team fighting to defend Detroit’s Chaldean community in federal court.

Monday September 18 | 7:00-9:00 pm | TBE Sanctuary

Guest speaker: Mary Anne Perrone

Should Temple Beth Emeth become a sanctuary community? What does that mean and how does a congregation do sanctuary? What are the ramifications? Why is sanctuary even necessary and what is its goal? The Social Action Committee (SAC) answers these questions and more with this repeat appearance from guest speaker Mary Anne Perrone, a member of the leadership team of Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) and co-founder of Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary (WCS).