Carly Pildis

This year I will be in shul, not on the Women’s March

One Jewish activist explains why the movement’s links to hateful rhetoric will keep her away on Saturday

January 18, 2019 09:53

I will be in synagogue on January 19. As women across America bundle up, put on their comfiest sneakers and grab their protest signs, I’ll be settling into Tot Shabbat with my family. I’ll be singing Mah Tovu to my daughter, instead of marching with her.

The Women’s March has been an uncomfortable place for Jewish women from the start and the tensions between the Jewish community and the Women’s March have risen to boiling point over the past year.

The Women’s March has failed to reassure the community that we are welcome, and it faces increasing pressure as partners including Emily’s List, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Democratic National Committee and the National Abortion Rights Action League have dropped their partnership.

Voices calling for Jewish women to skip the march and demand more action from its leadership have grown louder and are being heard in mainstream press.

The Women’s March made some good faith efforts to change, from adding Jewish women to their unity principles and a new 2019 steering committee featuring three Jews, one of them transgender, two of them black.

These were specific asks I made of the Women’s March publicly on many occasion and I am happy to see them implemented.

This shows tremendous progress. I believe it is important to take a moment and thank the Women’s March for this.

Yet I still find I can’t put my sneakers on. How can I stand and applaud this progress when I feel there has been no real accountability for past mistakes, no moment of true contrition?

Tamika Mallory still stands on national television and defends her actions, instead of simply apologising for the hurt she has caused.

The leaders continue to postulate that the pain they have caused the Jewish community is the outcome of healthy dialogue, and they urge us to embrace being in pain, rather than take ownership of acting hurtfully.

Like so many Jewish women, I feel like I have whiplash. Every time I am ready to stand and applaud, to grab my stroller and my sneakers, more problematic behaviour emerges.

I want to go to the march. I want to bring my daughter, but I am not sure if I am seeing public relations or real change.

I am giving the Women’s March time and space to evolve and embrace change in the hope I can join next year. Between now and then, I am hopeful we can talk, work together and build a stronger women’s movement.

On Tuesday night, I was at an event in Washington, DC, where many women were still struggling to make a decision about the march. I have made mine and am at peace with it.

Saturday will be another difficult day in these dark times.

The Trump administration has created a frightening era for many Americans, including Jews, and we have lost friends where we should have found allies.

Throughout Jewish history, in times of grief, hardship, and moral quandary, we have found respite in our synagogue.

Whether it be through prayer or the simple act of eating with our community, we found solace, wisdom and peace.

In these challenging times when we face threats to our safety and our souls, synagogue is where I will turn.

While I seek to resist President Trump and all the cruelty and hate he represents, I must do so in a way that honours my dignity and heritage.

The survival of the Jewish people is one form of resistance, and that is the resistance I will engage in this Saturday.

While we are there, let us pray, eat and organise ourselves for the enormous fight for justice ahead. I hope you will join me.

Carly Pildis is a political organiser and advocacy professional based in Washington, DC

January 18, 2019 09:53

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