Conversation with Rabbi Fliegel

Progressive Women

Tuesday, December 3 meeting

We had a conversation with Rabbi Andi Fliegel, Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel.

Rabbi discussed the moral decline in our society and how we can make change.

Rabbi spoke about the limitations she has felt as a woman. She was told she could be whatever she wanted, but was implicitly messaged that it had to be within specific confines. Living with a woman’s body means being objectified and sexualized.

Judaism takes pride in working toward justice as one of its key tenets. Passover, one of Judaism’s most important holidays, relates the story of Jews as slaves and emphasizes our need to empathize with the oppressed.

Rabbi remembers the hubris she had as a young person. She though she could change the world as one individual. She has come to realize that the way to make change is through community organizing, and creating and sustaining relationships with each other.

When she first arrived in West Hartford in 2016, she became involved in what was then just an idea. Clergy from faith-based organizations started to meet one another and create relationships. They struggled with the concept: What does leadership mean in a moment like this?

Three years later, the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA), was formed. Membership in GHIAA now includes more than 35+ churches, synagogues, and mosques. It has paid staff and has a generous budget. GHIAA is reclaiming what it means to be religious. The values of religion have been used to justify conservative policies, and we progressives are reclaiming our values.

The process of GHIAA includes:

— Community organizing, or relationship building, on a local level. This includes having 1-1 conversations with each other to discover what local and state issues concern us, as well as “house meetings.”

— Documenting the issues that are discussed

— Identifying and committing to specific, winnable actions

We are in partnership with commonly held values to influence the political landscape. Currently we have several issues we are working on in the areas of Education, Housing, Criminal Justice Reform, Healthcare, and Gun Violence. Additional issues will be added as time goes on.

The process is slow, but effective. On October 28, 2019, 1500 people gathered to launch GHIAA. The founding itself demonstrated our newly found power.

Watch this 4 minute video for the highlights of the founding, and be inspired!

We are a new organization, and still working on the process and logistics.

Some of you who are not part of a faith-based organization have expressed interest in a formal connection with GHIAA. We are in the process of organizing an “Allied” group. Please let me know If you are interested in learning more (Joan, Michelle, and Kathy have already expressed interest).

GHIAA Is hiring a full time GHIAA organizer. If you have interest, I can send you the job description.

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