Chicanas of 18th Street on Poco a Poco Radio

September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Tune into Poco a Poco Radio this Sunday at 1:30PM CST to hear the excellent BILINGUAL interview my father and I did with Leonard Ramírez and Magda Ramírez-Castañeda, about the much anticipated release of: Chicanas of 18th Street: Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago.

(photos by Claudio Gaete-Tapia)

Poco a Poco Interview

Chicanas of 18th Street

 

The Way Is Made By Walking: Cesar Chavez

March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Cesar Chavez!

cesar chavez

Cesar Chavez Coloring Page, from The Way Is Made By Walking

The Way Is Made by Walking is a free popular education coloring book available at TheWayIsMadeByWalking.com

Eventually I would like TheWayIsMadeByWalking.com to become an active webportal for artists/activists/educators/students/parents/HUMANS. A place that will facilitate critical conversations and the exchange of resources: ideas, images, videos, lesson plans, projects, student work, etc.  A sort of ongoing People’s History, meant to be continually analyzed, expanded upon, revisited and challenged. (read more

when physical appearance equals reasonable suspicion

February 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Public Airways is an artwork that aims to help viewers imagine the consequences of proposed immigration laws that inevitably lead to increased racial profiling.  Arizona’s SB 1070 would make it legal for law officers to use someone’s physical appearance as a form of “reasonable suspicion” to demand proof of citizenship.  Similar laws have been proposed in South Carolina, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Mississippi.  Perhaps rightful citizens and casual world travelers subject to profiling will soon seek to avoid such destinations altogether: a 21st century “Non-White Flight.”

follow @PublicAirways

 

The 1st Arizona Welcome Pics Are Here

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

please feel free to share and re-post…
ARIZONA WELCOME GIRL

visit: http://americanmediaoutput.com/arizonawelcome.html

TAKE ACTION AGAINST ANTI-IMMIGRATION ARIZONA LAWS

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

visit: AMericanMEdiaOutput.com/arizonawelcome.html

click hashtags #SB1611 and #SB1070

embeddable images of the Arizona Welcome Promo Girls will be avaliable soon…

Miguel del Valle Inspires Supporters to Keep Fighting for Reform, Declaring, “This is Chicago!”

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

repost of press release from www.delvalleformayor.com

Del Valle envisions new youth leaders emerging from campaign

February 22, 2011 (CHICAGO)– After an impassioned campaign on behalf of Chicago’s neighborhoods, Miguel del Valle pledged to keep fighting for a citywide progressive agenda.

“What will be your role?” del Valle asked a crowd of supporters at his campaign’s Election Night party at Revolution Brewing restaurant. “We’ve started something here. All the young people in this room–there are future leaders here, I know that.”

State Senator Iris Martinez and State Representative Cynthia Soto introduced del Valle who welcomed his wife, daughter, and three sons to the stage. The entire family worked on the campaign, from recruiting and organizing volunteers to shooting YouTube videos.

“This was a grassroots effort,” Sen. Martinez said. “And it was a victory for everyone in this room.”

Del Valle led citywide conversations on issues ranging from neighborhood schools to the parking meter contract. “We set the agenda,” del Valle said. “An agenda that means progress for all, not for some.” A diverse coalition rallied behind that agenda, including seniors, veterans, and high school students.

Del Valle has always said that time, not his opponents, was his worst enemy during the race. Tonight, he encouraged his supporters to keep believing in the city they envisioned during the campaign.

“Give it time,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But I have been inspired by the number of people who want change in this city. And we’re not going to get that change without organizing our neighborhoods.”

Huddled around tables and on staircases, volunteers continued to discuss a citywide organizing vision for Chicago’s communities. They batted around ideas for new models to improve neighborhoods, formed new relationships, and continued to build the coalition started during del Valle’s campaign.

“Chicago is ready for reform,” del Valle said. “I know that because a lot of people did not vote in this election. They feel disgusted about Chicago politics. And we have to give ‘em hope.”

Internet Art & Activism- the #delValleMural

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Miguel del Valle Mural
I am a Chicago-based digital media and performance artist. I created this grassroots, social media, portable mural in support of Miguel del Valle‘s campaign for Mayor.

follow hashtag: #delValleMural to see how the mural was created.

putting final touches on the #delValleMural

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The #ChicagoMayor elections are right around the corner…
maya escobar del valle mural in progress

And I am happy to report that I am ALMOST done with the #delValleMural
(the hashtag is silent)

#delValleMural in progress

February 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

As a community-based performance artist, I find the act of sharing the process equally important to the act of sharing the final product.

Here are images from the last week of the #delValleMural unfolding.

Miguel del Valle Mural

Miguel del Valle Mural

Miguel del Valle Mural

Miguel del Valle Mural

Miguel del Valle Mural

THE WORLD IS WATCHING ARIZONA

February 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

(via guardian.co.uk article by Roberto Cintli Rodriguez)

Arizona’s cultural genocide law

Legislators in Arizona are pursuing a white supremacist campaign to erase Mexican American presence from teaching

The onslaught in Arizona of reactionary and immoral racially-based laws has managed to attract worldwide attention. The brown peoples of this state are being relentlessly persecuted by a majority population that wants to forcefully remove us and suppress our rights and deny our humanity. Here, the state has even gone so far as to, via HB 2281, to prohibit the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools.

Unquestionably, the brown peoples of this state are treated as less than human. Not everyone treats us this way – just the majority: mostly conservative Republicans, many of them with a supremacist ideology. Their general attitude is: if you’re brown (read Mexican), get the hell out of our God-given country. And for those of you who remain, either assimilate and abide by our [contrived and unconstitutional] laws or face the full wrath of the state.

There is embedded hate against brown peoples in Arizona – the kind associated with the 1800s, a time when the United States forcefully annexed half of Mexico. All of it is thinly veiled under the guise of opposition to “illegal immigration” and “border enforcement”. However, the battle here is actually civilisational: brown peoples, many of whom have been here for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, represent the unfinished business of Manifest Destiny. For conservatives, we represent a return to a past in which we are viewed as a conquered, subhuman species. This brazen attitude informs all the recent anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant bills, proposed laws that long for a return to an idyllic past, which, in fact, never existed.

Aside from HB 2281, other bills include : SB 1070 – the racial profiling lawSB 1097 – the proposed law that will require children to identify the immigration status of their parents; and HB 2561/SB 1308 and HB 2562/SB1309 – bills that seek to nullify birthright citizenship (guaranteed by the 14th amendment ) to children whose parents cannot prove their legal status.

And now, state legislators have introduced the most reactionary bill of them all: SCR 1010 (pdf). This bill seeks to exempt Arizona from international laws. With this bill, these legislators are acknowledging that all their anti-Mexican laws are also outside of international law.

click here for full text

AND read more about HB 2561/SB 1308 (via AlterNet article by Valeria Fernández)

Arizona Bill Would Create Second-Class Citizenship for US-Born Children of Undocumented Immigrants

A baby born in Arizona to two undocumented parents would have a birth certificate that indicates he is not a U.S. citizen under new legislation introduced in Arizona’s State Capitol on Thursday.

The bills (identical in House and Senate versions, HB 2561/SB 1308 and HB 2562/SB1309) will certainly be challenged in federal court and are already steering a polarizing debate in a state known across the nation as a laboratory for anti-illegal-immigrant policies.

click here for full text

NOW THIS IS GRASSROOTS!!

February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Student’s @DelValle4Mayor video just made it into the Huffington Post!!

Rahm Emanuel Hit On School Policy By High Schoolers For Del Valle

Cps

A group of Chicago high school students has decided to take Rahm Emanuel to task for his education policy.

Cristina Henriquez, Gerardo Aguilar, and Alexandra Alvarez appear in a YouTube video, uploaded Sunday, entitled “Invest in Our Public Schools.” The spot attacks Emanuel for his praise of the city’s charter schools, and backs rival candidate Miguel del Valle for supporting neighborhood schools.

“I go to Roger C. Sullivan High School,” says Henriquez. “This is not one of the schools Rahm Emanuel cares about.”

The students, who wrote the script for the video, according to its description on YouTube, also point out what they describe as a factual inaccuracy in Emanuel’s portrayal of the city’s charters. “When you take out North Side, and you take out Walter Payton, the seven best-performing high schools are all charters.”

“Someone didn’t do their homework,” the video says, listing the seven top schools as reported by the Chicago Tribune. None of them is a charter school.

The video says it has no connection to any candidate, and judging by the del Valle camp’s reaction, they seem to be telling the truth. Spokeswoman Joanna Klonsky didn’t know much about the video’s origins, except to say that “we didn’t orchestrate it.”

Watch the students take on Rahm:

Invest in Chicago Public School Students

January 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

On January 30, 2011 Chicago Public school students and graduates (from Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood) got together to film a grass-roots/guerilla campaign ad to “tell it like it is,” and support the best candidate to improve our neighborhood public schools.

The footage used is filmed outside of Roger C. Sullivan High School and from WGN’s January 27th mayoral debate. The stars and script writers of this ad are Sullivan HS students (in order of appearance) Cristina Henriquez, Gerardo Aguilar, and Alexandra Alvarez.

On February 22, 2011 vote to improve our neighborhood schools – Miguel del Valle!

http://www.delvalleformayor.com

This ad was not paid for or endorsed by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Labor & love donated.

Source of top seven high schools: Chicago Tribune

Miguel del Valle for Mayor of Chicago

If you support Prop 8 and/or SB 1070 un-friend me on facebook

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am incredibly proud of my husband’s Facebook status.

Please feel free to repost on your own page:

___________ is fed up. If you support California’s Proposition 8 or any of the Arizona anti-immigration laws, un-friend me now. NOW. Don’t send me an email or comment on this post. This isn’t a political issue, it’s about avoiding the complacency-in-the-face-of-hatred that doomed 1930s Germany. How you can live with yourself is your own problem.

Lady Gaga at the LGBT National Equality March

October 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

“Obama, I know you are listening… ARE YOU LISTENING… We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality.”

Appropriating and Recontextualizing Google Image Search Results

March 12, 2009 § 5 Comments

Part 1 of an article I wrote for jewishinstlouis.org

Every art student learns about the fair use principle, granting us permission to use any image in our artwork as long as we transform it so that it conveys new meaning.  But beyond that all-encompassing definition, we don’t know what transgressions, if any, we are actually committing.

The Associated Press is alleging copyright infringement against Shepard Fairey for his use of Mannie Garcia's photo (left) in creating his "Hope" poster (right). AP

Recently in the news is the preemptive lawsuit artist Shepard Fairey filed against the Associated Press. According to Fairey the AP threatened to sue him unless he pays royalties for the image that he used as source material for his now famous campaign poster of Barack Obama. Fairey argues that he is protected by the fair use principle. He claims that his intention was not to reproduce any particular image,  but instead was to capture a specific gaze representative of the ideas of hope and change.

In an interview on NPR, Fairey declared he was going forward with this suit on behalf of all artists, the thousands of artists that created their own campaign images in the same grassroots manner, pulling images from the web in support of the message of hope, change and a new administration in Washington.

screen shot of: first page of google image search results for "Barack Obama"

screen shot of: first page of google image search results for “Barack Obama”

I am fascinated by Fairey’s implication that the process of appropriating and re-contextualizing Google image search results might be considered a grassroots action. As an artist, I frequently use images that that I find on Google. Like Fairey suggested, my motivation for using these images is to highlight the search itself, not the derivative image.

Perhaps then, these cyber Robin Hoodian actions—using and transforming Google image search results—are capable of changing the structures that control the dissemination of information. After all, the order that information appears in Google searches is determined by the amount of people searching any given topic. And as a result of the Fairey’s appropriation, his campaign poster may be forever linked to Obama’s presidency.

email from President Obama

email from President Obama

Obama’s popularity can be credited to his skillfully constructed presidential campaign that effortlessly linked his name to hope.  I was quick to jump onto Obama’s online campaign message of hope.   Like many others, I subscribed to his twitter, facebook, and YouTube pages. I now get weekly emails from him and I even have a blog on his site…

1000 Rabbis Call On Obama

February 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Time to Choose Peace
A Rabbinic Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

Rabbis, Cantors, and Jewish clerical students:

Join your colleagues in urging President-elect Obama to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of the incoming administration by signing on to the statement below.

Current List of Signers
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
DONATE to support media campaign around the letter
Signer Disclaimer
NOT A RABBI OR CANTOR? CLICK HERE

Text of the Letter

We the undersigned, call on you, President-elect Obama, to pledge to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of your Administration.

While you come into office with a long list of problems before you, the long-simmering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is among the most urgent. After eight years of half-hearted diplomacy, there is no time left to walk softly and hope for the best.

The consequences of failing to establish a durable peace are grim. The influence of Iran and Hezbollah would grow among an increasingly bitter Palestinian population, and extremists would have further excuse to do vicious battle with the West. It is difficult to calculate the damage that a downward spiral into fresh waves of violence could hold.

American Presidents traditionally look to the Jewish community for insight on Israel-related policy. As Jewish clergy, we pledge to mobilize our people behind your leadership for a mutually-acceptable, two-state solution. We pledge to support you through difficult, trying times, and to celebrate with you when the job is done. We pledge to let the American public know: An American President who dedicates himself to the establishment of a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace acts in the best interests of Israel and the United States.

* We call on you to dedicate yourself to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel early in your first term.

* We call on you to appoint, within your first 100 days in office, a high-level, highly-regarded envoy to the region, an individual who has the ear of both Israelis and Palestinians, the respect of the American people, and ready access to your Oval Office.

* We call on you to establish mechanisms of enforcement and follow-through, so that decisions made and agreements signed will be respected and brought to fruition.

Signed by:
[Your name]
[Your address]

People’s Hopes

February 2, 2009 § 1 Comment

There have been some wonderful submissions to togetherwehope.com. Here are some examples.  Visit togetherwehope.com to share your hopes for the future.

I hope
hairdo
I hope my brother
autism
for a new america go obama
color
find peace
trust

Help Republic Windows Workers!

December 10, 2008 § 2 Comments

Fredrico Martinez, who joined other workers in a prayer vigil, said he had worked at the factory for nine years.

Republic Windows, a Chicago company since 1965, closed it’s doors on Friday, December 5, leaving 300 workers without a job, and only a 3 day notice. Under the WARN Act this is illegal, and the company must give at least 60 days notice. Workers have occupied the plant and are demanding that if the plant stays closed, they receive the wages, severance, vacation pay due them–totally $1 million.

Here are some things you can do to help:

1. Donate to the strike fund the families of the workers have to eat, pay rent and utilities, while they are occupying the plant. Donations should be sent to UE Local 1110 at 37 S. Ashland Chicago, IL 60607.

2. Bring friends to the plant to show solidarity, workers can get very de-moralized if they feel like people are just going on with their lives while they are putting themselves at such risk, so any small group of people can be very helpful to the morale. We invite you to sign our solidarity posters and visit with workers.

3. Call Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. Say that you are a concerned member of the community who is disturbed by BoA’s apparent disregard for people’s livelihoods by forcing republic windows to shut down without paying people their vacation and WARN act pay. BoA just got $25 Billion from taxpayers precisely to make credit lines like the Republic Windows line work. Calls help, but so do emails and faxes to the CEO. Jobs with Justice National web site has an action email you can send to BofA.

Talks Fail to End Sit-In at Closed Factory

CHICAGO — As workers at a window-making plant here prepared to spend a fourth night in the factory they had been told to leave for good, union leaders, bankers and company owners met into the night on Monday but the meetings ended without bringing about an end to the workers’ peaceful but increasingly tense occupation of the plant.

The layoff of 250 workers last week at Republic Windows and Doors on the North Side with only three days’ warning and without pay the workers say is owed to them had, by Monday, drawn the attention of nearly every politician with a connection to this city, numerous union and workers’ rights groups and scores of ordinary people, who arrived at the plant offering families toys, food and money.

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who met with the workers Monday morning, said the State of Illinois was suspending its business with the Bank of America, Republic Windows’ lenders, and that the Illinois Department of Labor was poised to file a complaint over the plant closing if need be. Political leaders on the Chicago City Council and in Cook County threatened similar actions. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez said he was encouraging the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to investigate. “Families are already struggling to keep afloat,” Mr. Blagojevich said.

Workers here say they blame the operators of Republic Windows and Doors, a manufacturing company that was founded in 1965, for giving them just three days’ notice before closing last Friday, with no earlier hints to the employees that orders for vinyl windows and sliding doors had fallen off.

Late Monday, the company released a statement that indicated that it had known since at least mid-October that it intended to close the factory by January. The statement suggested that it had gone back and forth with Bank of America for more than a month, but that the bank had rejected several of its “wind down” plans as well as the company’s request for financing to pay workers’ owed vacation.

The statement also revealed that the family of Richard Gillman, once a minority shareholder who in 2006 and 2007 bought out Republic, last month formed a new window business — Echo Windows LLC. All along, workers here said they feared the owners were shutting down to reopen a cheaper operation somewhere else. A trade publication reported last week that Echo had recently bought a window manufacturing plant in Red Oak, Iowa. No one from Republic could be reached for comment.

“It is looking like reopening is exactly what happened,” said Tara Taffera, the editor and publisher of the publication, Door and Window Manufacturing magazine.

The company’s statement said it had been placed, “in the impossible position of not having the ability to further reduce fixed costs, coupled with severe constrictions in the capital debt markets and an unwillingness of the current debt holder to continue funding the operations.”

The workers here also blamed Bank of America for preventing the owners from paying its workers for already-earned vacation time and severance. Workers here said the owners told them last week that Bank of America had cut off the company’s credit line and would not allow payments.

As part of government bailout efforts for the struggling banking industry, Bank of America has received $15 billion, and is expected to receive an additional $10 billion. That fact left many workers here seething.

“Taxpayers would like to see that bailout money go toward saving jobs, not saving C.E.O.’s,” said Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. “This is outrageous.” [...]


Hope in the STL POST

November 29, 2008 § 3 Comments

Article from the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

‘Hope’ springs anew for Washington University grad students

University City Post-Office

November 19, 2008 — Carianne Noga, a graduate student of art at Washington University, ties tags of hope onto a sculpture outside the University City Post-Office. Noga and fellow student Maya Escobar started soliciting people’s hopes to place on the sculpture. (Christian Gooden/P-D)

By

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
11/29/2008

UNIVERSITY CITY — Georgia O’Keeffe found inspiration in the light and shapes of New Mexico. Mary Cassatt found hers in mothers and children. Maya Escobar and Carianne Noga, two graduate students at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Art and Design, found inspiration for their latest project from the long lines on Election Day at a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop in the Loop.

There, on the sidewalk outside the shop, which was giving away scoops of ice cream to voters, the two women felt excitement and hope among voters. They said they found that same feeling across the street in the long line of voters waiting to vote at the Loop polling place.

“We wanted to continue that moment and not let it peak out,” Noga said.

Before the polls closed, they had begun to create their “I hope…” project.

They first staked out a site: outside the University City Post Office at 561 Kingsland Avenue.

They then provided people with bright red tags and paint markers for them to write down their hopes for a better future.

The tags then are affixed to a permanent lattice wood sculpture already on site outside the Post Office.

“As difficult as it can be sometimes to voice our wishes and dreams, it can be strengthening,” the artists say in explaining their mission. “We can be reminded of the rest of the world outside our own immediate concerns. In this period of great change and near infinite possibilities, it is time for us to voice our hopes.”

While the project is for all people, Escobar said it holds special meaning for young people.

“This is our moment to make a difference for our communities,” Escobar said. “We need to be aware — of our national situation, of the economy.”

Many of the hopes expressed — most recorded anonymously — so far are noble and universal: “I hope for world peace” and “My hope is that hate is no longer.”

Some of the hopes are personal. “I hope to not fear death,” wrote one.

Others have a distinctly political bent: “I hope we get out of Iraq and don’t go to war with Iran.” And some are just fun, like the person hoping for “chocolate cake for dessert …”

A University City police officer named Hope — Reginald Hope — shared with them his own hope: for safety for police officers. A fellow officer was killed while on duty near the Loop last month.

Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton gave his hope and “wishes for better health and greater prosperity for all.”

The artists also are encouraging people to submit their hopes online at togetherwehope.com.

The existing sculpture outside the post office was designed in 2005 by an undergraduate architectural design studio taught by Carl Safe in the Washington University School of Architecture. University City resident Ethel Sherman had asked Safe to help create a sculpture in memory of her husband William Sherman, a Washington University biochemist who died about five years ago.

“It’s strong like Bill and peaceful and quiet,” she said. Sherman said she’s thrilled about adding “I hope…” to it.

“This is an exciting time of change and hope,” said Sherman, a retired psychologist and teacher who worked for 10 years at the Loop’s Craft Alliance.

The artists, both 24, come from family traditions of public service and political idealism.

“I grew up under the table of political meetings,” says Escobar, remembering her childhood in Chicago. “My friends and I formed our first political organization when we were 11 — Students Against Child Oppression — on behalf of children in sweatshops in Mexico.”

Her mother is a school nurse, and her father, an educator, hosts a radio show in Chicago called “Si, Se Puede,” which means “Yes, We Can.” The program has been around since 1996.

Noga grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and in Georgia. Her father is a psychiatrist at a state hospital, and her mother is a library director.

Both artists are second-year graduate students in the two-year master’s of fine arts program.

The project will remain up through January. Later, the tags can be relocated to other sites and the online site will remain.

University City has embraced the “I hope …” project, according to city manager Julie Feier.

“It’s an inspiring project,” she said.

mgillerman@post-dispatch.com | 314-725-6758


together we hope

November 9, 2008 § 1 Comment

The polling lines were LONG in STL, I waited over 4 hrs to vote!  But it was well worth it, I have never been more proud to be an american and to take part in such an important moment in history.

The night of the elections, Carianne and I initiated our project together we hope with the help of our friend Becky Potts.  We passed out red tyvek tags and asked people to write down their hopes for the future. We tried to encourage them to go beyond “I hope Obama wins” or I hope McCain wins”.

People wrote things ranging from “I hope I get good grades” to “I hope that we end the war in Iraq and do not go to war win Iran.”

Check out this website we created where you can submit your hopes online. We will make a tag for each hope submitted…
i hope to make the world a better place

Sarah Silverman for Obama

September 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

Fundraiser for the Teamster Reform Movement

June 29, 2008 § Leave a comment


Maya Escobar Paint 4 Peace on ABC 7 News

June 19, 2008 § 1 Comment

I just re-uploaded a better quality of this video to youtube, check it out if you missed it before….

Clip from ABC7’s “The N Beat,” With Host Theresa Gutierrez back in 2002

Paint 4 Peace is a non-profit organization comprised of artists and activists who strive to create a culture of peace, fortify communities, and bridge the gap between humanity and politics through artistic endevors.

Guest Post by Debbie Wolen: Ta’anit Esther and Mardge Cohen

March 17, 2008 § 1 Comment

Guest Post by Debbie Wolen*: Ta’anit Esther and Mardge Cohen

I had never heard of the holiday [Ta'anit Esther] until one year ago, when Rabbi Brant said that the JRF and the RRC wanted to honor Dr. Mardge Cohen for Ta’anit Esther. Mardge asked me what Ta’anit Esther was. I had never heard of it, and I have been Jewish all my life.

Isaac Saposnik is working on the Philadelphia side of this RRC/Kolot “reconstruction” of Ta’anit Esther as a Jewish Day of Justice. Ta’anit Esther is described in the Book of Esther (which I did actually read for the first time, in preparation for organizing this event. It describes Esther’s initial reluctance to get involved with advocating for her people. When Mordicai first told Esther about the plot, she was afraid to intervene. Apparently, her conscience and sense of justice/solidarity/responsibility was stronger than her fear, and gave her the energy and courage to intervene. Her struggle is interesting and a process that I know I face often in my life, so I can really identify with Esther’s struggle. Prior to her intervention, Esther fasted, and asked the whole Jewish community to fast with her in solidarity. Thus, the Fast of Esther is one of several Jewish fast days. (It lasts from sunrise to sundown on March 20. That is why we are having East African (Ethiopian) hors d’ouerves at the March 19 observance.)

I bought an Art Scroll prayer book recently, so I looked, and sure enough, Ta’anit Esther is listed as a fast day. It is not described as a Jewish day of justice, however. This is the new reconstruction of it. I also mentioned it to an Israeli fellow, and he said, “Oh, yes, sure, Ta’anit Esther, of course.” But, I have asked other people who are much more knowledgeable and involved Jewish people than I, and they had not heard of Ta’anit Esther previously.

When I read the Book of Esther, I was somewhat concerned about the justice described there and the assumptions I made about what the reconstructionists meant by “Jewish day for justice.” The justice in Esther is revengeful and quite bloody! I asked Isaac about this. He said this Jewish Day for Justice implies social justice, the type of justice that Mardge Cohen and others in Rwanda are working for, making the lives of the survivors of the 1994 genocide better, making the lives of the poor and powerless more empowered. Well, it was obvious, but the bloody revenge in Esther is called justice, too.

Mardge Cohen, MD, is a woman who has struggled with social injustice during her whole medical career. She is really a remarkable woman, and her work is on the level of Paul Farmer, in my opinion. I saw some slides she showed at our workplace in 8/2000, of her tour of HIV projects in South Africa after the 2000 International AIDS conference. I was inspired by her slides so that I started trying to educate folks at JRC about AIDS in Africa, and to raise funds for HIV projects there. I am just one of many she has inspired by her example.

Here is a jewish text study by Jordan Appel Ta’anit Esther text study

Thanks a lot for your interest and support

Debbie Wolen

*About Debbi:

I’m a family nurse practitioner, have worked in HIV primary care at Cook County Hospital for nearly 17 years with people who are medically indigent and suffer the indignities of poverty. I was a public health nurse before that. I have sought inspiration from many sources. My first source of inspiration was my childhood rabbi, Leonard Mervis, who gave sermons on social justice, anti-war and in support of the civil rights movement (like you, my parents insisted on my attendance through high school, every single Friday evening! So, rather than be bored, I listened to the interesting sermons.) I am a product of Cicero, Illinois. My cousins marched against Martin Luther King when I was 15. That was a radicalizing experience that affects me even today, in my middle age. Also, your mother [Tina Escobar] was the only teacher I could really relate to in my two years at Rush College of Nursing, and she only taught our class for 2 weeks!

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the activism category at Maya Talk.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: