Em-URGE-ing Voices

Your urgent thoughts, urging action


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February 18, 2013

Choice USA Executive Director, Kierra Johnson, will be traveling this week in Israel with the National Council of Jewish WomenIsrael Action Networkand a group of progressive women leaders. While there she will be blogging about the experience for ChoiceWords.

Aliyah: in Arabic means lofty or sublime. In Hebrew means ascending or rising.

This evening we dined with colleagues from Haifa and Galilee.  The setting is Beit Maha, a beautiful house over 1000 years old in the city of Akko. Before dinner we checked into our hotel and before that we took a tour through Caesarea Port. It has been a long day but an exciting and eventful one.

After we landed in Tel Aviv,  I couldn’t help but feel hyper aware of myself. Black. Non-religious. Very American with Southern roots. Silly. Independent. Direct. Queer. Progressive. Feminist. Woman. And I am but one of a motley crew!

The delegation is comprised of women leaders who work on labor, sexual health, eradicating sex trafficking, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, girl’s empowerment, civil rights, and education reform. We all  live in major cities across the United States although most of us grew up in cities in the lesser known parts of these same United States. We are all do-gooders. We are bleeding hearts. We are people who want to change the world and have a vision for how we would like to do it.

Lili Galili, second from left

And today we were allies in awe. While some in the group have been to Israel at least once before, for others of us this is our first adventure in this region. Already we have seen ancient architecture, ate exquisite cuisine and heard the most amazing stories of mystery and suspense. Tonight we met with Lili Galili a journalist for the Haaretz Newspaper. She gave us her analysis about the challenges facing Israel. In her words, she says Israel is going through an era of dramatic social change. Interestingly enough, like the US, the country is grappling with what the role is of young people and immigrants in this culturally, politically and economically shifting time. It is here that she shared with us…


It has been a day of questions and a day of answers that lead to more questions. How long can this tribal region maintain in this way? What is the path to progressive peace? How long can you hold onto  culture? Is is possible to keep culture from evolving? At what point is the quest to preserve culture nothing more than a quest to preserve power? We have only just begun this journey together. We are beginning to ask audacious questions and are seeking to build, create and propose solutions that defy the odds, transcend the traditional and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Until tomorrow, here’s to ALIYAH!


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