Last night I had the opportunity to attend an assembly of Newton Congregations as part of their work with GBIO (Greater Boston Interfaith Organization). I’ve known about GBIO for years because of JFSJ (my old organization)’s partnership with & support of JCRC’s synagogue organizing project, and I’ve had many opportunities to work & learn with GBIO leaders since I move here, but this was my 1st action of the congregations.

Its a profoundly powerful thing when one after another, leaders in churches & synagogues get up and tell personal stories of how their lives are impacted by public policies – a lack of access to senior services to care for elder parents, or a parent talking about a daughter bullied and the failure of neighbors to address it, or teens talking about their own experience not being nurtured in schools & what schools could be doing to invest in counseling, the emotional needs of teens, smaller classes – all leading to direct and specific asks of their elected and appointed officials.

The power of a sanctuary filled with people across faith lines demanding concrete action; for example specific steps that will get to 10% affordable housing in Newton, and the affirmative yes from the mayor, Seti Warren, who then told his own personal story of his family being able to move to Newton & him raising his children in the house he grew up in…

This is how change happens, communities coming together, working as one community.

While I was sitting there I saw a tweet from another forum across town making the argument that we are not 1 Jewish community but rather many Jewish communities (btw you could have followed the action live with photos on twitter by following me @burtonjm) . There’s a point there, one that requires our responsive diligence, but in that moment in that church on Washington Street last night, what I saw was one community; Jews of many denominations, in one community with Christians as diverse as them, across class, age… standing together for the betterment of a shared community.

Nights like this are inspiring. They make me proud of the amazing staff of JCRC and of the volunteers & leaders in our Community. Nights like this I take note of the privileges I’ve been given, including being entrusted with the proud legacy of JCRC & the Greater Boston Synagogue Organizing Project.

This is why we do what we do at JCRC & this is why I came here.

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