Common Purpose Now, co-founded by UW Professor David Domke, is organizing teams of volunteers to travel from Washington to 18 states, to partner with local organizations to Get Out the Vote for critical national and local elections.
Hello Kavana community members:
As Rabbi Rachel alluded to in her President's Day Torah email, many of us are wondering how to get involved politically in a way that is meaningful to our Jewish values, as well as impactful outside Washington state. I would like to bring a local organization to your attention that is focused on many of the issues we have been discussing -- helping members of traditionally disadvantaged communities across the US exercise their voting rights, getting out the vote in strategic locales in battleground states, and training the next generation of diverse civic leaders. Common Purpose Now, co-founded by UW Professor David Domke, is organizing teams of volunteers to travel from Washington to 18 states, to partner with local organizations to Get Out the Vote for critical national and local elections. I have attended one of the introductory meetings (offered monthly) and an advanced workshop regarding how the state teams operate, and I am overwhelmed - in a positive way - by the passion, organization, thoughtfulness and energy of the entire staff and current volunteers.
There are many ways for people to get involved in this effort on an individual level, but I would be happy to be a point person if there is any interest in having a group from Kavana participate together. While we must be mindful of our tax-exempt status if we act as a group, we can readily just select a trip where we can partner with non-partisan groups on the ground to work on non-partisan voter registration and GOTV efforts that are not affiliated with any particular campaign. And there is of course, no prohibition of any sort to individuals deciding to travel and volunteer together, if we are not formally going under Kavana auspices. There are Common Purpose Now volunteer groups leaving for South Carolina next week, and trips have already happened in Florida and other states; there is lots of work to be done this spring and summer -- and then a massive ground game blitz from September to Election Day.
If you are interested in learning more about Common Purpose Now, I urge you to visit the website: www.commonpurposenow.org. (Don't forget the "now" part). It has a WEALTH of information!
AND the next step for anyone considering traveling would be to attend one of the short introductory meetings. They are currently held monthly on Saturday mornings. (Next ones: March 14 and April 11). This is problematic for those observing Sabbath, but if there is substantial interest, I suspect we can arrange a private gathering, or we can record and rebroadcast one of the meetings. There is a huge important emphasis on doing this civic work in community, (which is why I think it aligns so well with Kavana's values) so gathering together to explore and prepare for volunteering is a critical component of the experience.
Please ping me by email if you'd like to learn more. I find being around the Common Purpose Now team to be the most uplifting, positive and hopeful way to spend time connected to political and civic activism, and I would be honored to share this effort with some of you.
The Torah is usually terse and concise, but this week's parasha, Chayei Sarah, centers around a long story that is anything but! All 67 verses of Genesis chapter 24 are devoted to a single narrative: the tale of Abraham sending his servant on a journey to find a wife for his son Isaac, and returning with Rebecca, a woman of great agency, strength and generosity.
We Jews know how to wait. That is, we deeply understand humanity's imperfections, and that the presence of injustice or cruelty in our world cannot undermine our steadfast focus on trying to achieve our vision of a more perfect, more just future. We have lots of historical experience to draw on, and much language for this kind of spiritual resilience. One line that's been swimming through my head this week is from the prayer "Ani Maamin": "v'af al pi she-yitmameah, im kol zeh achakeh lo." Translating loosely here (and transposing what we're waiting for from a messianic figure to a time characterized by messianic ideals), this means: despite the fact that it's taking a long time for the world to change in the ways we believe it should, still, we are undeterred; we will wait - and work - until we arrive at an era of peace and justice.
Yesterday was the second anniversary of the violent attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Its memory casts a long shadow for me, and this year, the anniversary feels like a powerful reminder of the very high stakes of next week’s election.