Shana Tova

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Elul, the Jewish month which is about to come to a close, is a time of looking backwards. Our Jewish tradition recognizes the value of taking a pause from our busy, forward-looking lives to turn around and take stock of what has already happened. The spirit of the time we are in and which we are about to enter during the High Holidays is one of reflection — of attempting to come to terms with the past, and, based on that understanding, committing to change our actions in the future. Just as this season encourages us to do, the hundreds of interviews in the American Jewish Peace Archive provide a fertile resource for us to look back at the history of American Jewish peace activism, helping us find direction for the path we might take into the future.

The spirit of forgiveness is also with us in this time; one of the primary activities of the month of Elul is forgiving each other. It is taught in the Mishnah (Yoma 8:9) that atoning on Yom Kippur for wrongs that you did to other people does not elicit any forgiveness from God; only people have the power to forgive each other for these wrongs. The AJPA facilitates the process of forgiveness between generations of activists across the span of 50 years. This understanding is the first step of forgiveness and moving forward together. Through hearing the stories of different generations, we can understand how each has done their best within the context of the time.

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Putting Out Fires: An Interview with Israeli Human Rights Lawyer Nery Ramati

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Nery Ramati and Grace Gleason
Many of the Israeli activists we interviewed this summer spoke about the tension they felt between “putting out the fires” – ameliorating suffering now – and fighting for long-term political change. Human rights lawyer Nery Ramati, who I interviewed with Aliza Becker in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017 for the American Jewish Peace Archive, shared his perspective on this tension. We talked about why he has chosen to focus on one court case at a time, even though it means working within the system of the occupation instead of railing against it. Read more