Pathmakers To Peace 2018

It was an evening to remember.

Friends and supporters of Brooklyn For Peace filed into Brooklyn’s historic Plymouth Church to enjoy a festive evening of good food and drink. But also to mingle with old friends and meet new ones. They came to support the 34-year old peace and justice organization and to be the wind behind its sails as it continues to meet the challenges of these difficult times.

After a delicious and plentiful buffet, the event began with a warm welcom by the church’s spiritual leader, Rev. Brett Younger. This year the group honored leading Pathmakers To Peace as it has done in years past. But before, we welcomed special guests who arrived unannounced but who were enthusiastically welcomed as champions in Congress against the Trump agenda. Both Congress members Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velázquez rose and delivered passionate remarks, pledging to stand firm on behalf of peace and to defend immigrants and refugees from the cruel policies of the Trump Administration. They spoke of the difficult battles ahead but also pointed out that the newly-elected majority in the House, with its numerous new women members, would make their ability to fight back more effective. The presence of these two important Brooklyn Congress members was a tribute, many felt, to Brooklyn For Peace’s status as a long-standing and effective voice for peace and progress in our Brooklyn communities.

This year’s honorees:

Make The Road, New York – a true champion that serves and protects immigrants and refugees with a focus on Latinos who are facing attacks from the Trump policies. The award was accepted by Chloe Tribich who spoke on their behalf.

Make the Road New York (MRNY) is a grassroots social justice organization working to build the power of immigrant and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice. MRNY has 23,000+ members across New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County who lead multiple organizing committees. MRNY is built on the principle that every person has expertise and wisdom and deserves to exercise real power, creativity, and leadership in their lives, regardless of immigration status, race, or gender identity. MRNY cultivates networks that offer safety, support, and solidarity.

Make the Road New York recognizes that because of deeply entrenched systems of oppression, working-class and immigrant communities face innumerable challenges. The issues that MRNY focuses on include children’s rights to quality education, healthcare access for immigrant and working-class New Yorkers, affordable housing and safe environments, dignity and justice for immigrant families, police violence and the criminalization of black and brown New Yorkers, networks of support for transgender, gender
nonconforming, intersex, and queer New Yorkers seeking to end homophobia and transphobia, and ensuring respect and dignity on the job.

Their work model integrates four core strategies for concrete change that millions of families feel every day. First, they offer legal and survival services to tackle discrimination, abuse, and poverty. Second, they provide transformative education to develop community members’ abilities to lead the organization, movement, and society. Third, they engage in community organizing initiatives to transform the systems and power structures impacting their communities. Fourth, they focus on policy innovation to rewrite unjust rules and make our democracy truly accountable to all of us.

Rebecca Wilkomerson, the Chair of Jewish Voice For Peace, an outstanding organization that has grown exponentially in recent years, filling its ranks with newly active youth, particularly young Jews. They stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine in demanding a just and fair peace in the Mid East and reject the idea that being Jewish is synonymous with supporting the extremist and anti-human policies of Netanyahu and his government.

Rebecca grew up in New Jersey and had stints in Connecticut, Albuquerque, Baltimore, San Francisco and Tel Aviv before settling (for life!) in Brooklyn ten years ago. She began her life as an activist fighting against welfare reform and homelessness and for childcare and healthcare for all before turning to the issue of Israel/Palestine as the second intifada began in 2000.

Rebecca has been a member of Jewish Voice for Peace since 2001, when it was a non-staffed organization meeting in peoples’ living rooms, and has been Executive Director since 2009. In her nearly ten years leading JVP it has gone from an organization of four staff and just a few hundred members to a powerhouse with over 30 staff, about 16,000 members, and over 70 chapters around the country.

In that time, JVP has endorsed the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), still, the largest Jewish organization to do so, led the historic divestment campaigns against the pension giant TIAA-CREF, supported the Presbyterian church in its landmark decision to divest, and most recently launched #DeadlyExchange, a campaign to end police exchanges between the US and Israel that as part of a local coalition had its first win in Durham, North Carolina this year. As an organization inspired by Jewish tradition to fight for the full equality and freedom of all people in Israel/Palestine, JVP also fights Islamophobia, antisemitism and all forms of racism.

In 2010 Rebecca was named one of the 50 most influential Jewish American leaders by the Forward, and in 2017 the Jerusalem Post named her one of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders worldwide. She has appeared in outlets including the Washington Post, LA Times, Democracy Now, MSNBC and Haaretz. She has a Bachelors’s Degree from Connecticut College and a Masters’s from Johns Hopkins University. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and a dog in South Park Slope.

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign:  A National Call for Moral Revival with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. which, in a fitting reprise of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 movement,  has launched a movement for a “moral revival” in our country, demanding the shifting of priorities away from greed and war and toward meeting the urgent needs of the American people, particularly those who suffer the injustice and degradation of endemic poverty. Theoharris made a moving speech that wove together all the themes of the various struggles taking place in today’s difficult period.

She is also the Co-Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice; and a
Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. Rev. Theoharis has spent the past twenty-five years organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed in the United States. She has helped to lead significant organizing efforts around the country and has worked with and advised grassroots, community-led, anti-poverty organizations to build the movement to end poverty. In 2018, alongside the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Theoharis helped to launch the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

Inspired by the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and the long history of struggles for freedom in this country, today’s Campaign is organizing poor people across race, religion, geography, political party, and other so-called lines of division to create fundamental change, and to fuel a moral revolution of values in our public and political lives.

In her recent book Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor she argues that being poor is not inevitable and that theology that suggests otherwise has helped to stifle the growth of a transformative movement to end poverty and systemic injustice.

She received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloan Coffin Scholar; and her Ph.D. also from Union where she studied New Testament and Christian Origins. Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Many thought that this event was one of the finest and most uplifting the organization has sponsored over the years. The feelings of camaraderie and solidarity in a festive atmosphere of bonhomie, lifted people’s spirits and determination to continue the fight for a better country and world. Onwards!

View all the photos of the event.
View the full video of the program on our YouTube channel
View the PathMakers to Peace 2018 Program, click HERE.

Sponsors

Thank you to our sponsors for their contributions!

Marilyn Ackerman
Naomi Allen
Monroe Allison
Debbie Almontaser
Charlene Barker
Don Bickford
Christine Bratton
Ed Briody
Mary Buchwald
Allison Buckingham
Chris Butters
Arlene Capasso
Amy Cohen
Lorraine Cohen
Thomas Cox
Phyllis Cunningham

Tara Currie
Carolyn Eisenberg
Eventfull Catering
Henry Florsheim
Jaki Florsheim
Mirene Ghossein
Ed Goldman
Mel Grizer
Georgia Guida
Carolyn Hughes
Sharon Kennedy
Lucy Koteen
Amy Luo
Fran Minichiello
Martin Needelman

Mary Nolan
Jean Nolan
Mohammed Nurhussein
Su Chiang Pan
Ralph Perfetto
Charlotte Phillips
Liz Phillips
Kim Phillips-Fein
Jesse Phillips-Fein
Eleanor Preiss
Jose Ristorucci
Gil Schrank
Eric Shtob
Carol Smith
Matthew Weinstein
Katharine B. Wolpe

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the following for their extra effort to make this event a success!

Ann Fawcett Ambia
Emilie Beck
Andrew Bunch
Tara Currie
Ken Diamondstone
George Fiala
Ed Goldman

Joe Kopitz
Felipe Martinez
Fran Minichiello
Veronica Nunn
Eleanor Preiss
Skyler Sciandra
John Scibilia
Sarah Sills

Amy Talcott
Bart Tesoriero
Shawn Walsh
Matt Weinstein
Annie Yan
Thanks to Plymouth Church and Reverend Brett Younger for making this event possible!

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