2012 Rabbi Marshall T Meyer Risk Taker Awards

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We’re so thrilled that JFREJ’s 2012 16th Annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards was an inspiring success! Over 300 JFREJ members, allies, and friends gathered at B’nai Jeshurun last Wednesday evening to celebrate our tremendous honorees. We are excited to report that this year’s Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards brought in nearly $60,000!

It was truly an incredible night. We celebrated Eric Ward, long-time civil rights organizer, who admitted he doesn’t believe in “moderate organizing,” and who told us: “Be bold. Don’t be afraid. Or be afraid and do it anyway.” We honored JFREJ Founding Director Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, who in turn honored us with her poetry: “when thousands of people of all ages / planted their frightened brave bodies across / the highways / train tracks / bridges / boulevards / runways / when they took their bold radiant bodies into the jails and all gave the same name / presente they said / presente / presente.” And the room was afire when ACT UP leaders invited all current and past ACT UP members to come onto the stage to accept the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award alongside them, and dozens of JFREJ members streamed up from the audience, leading the room in the chant we’ve been saying for 25 years, “Act Up! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!”. ACT UP, Eric, and Melanie used their acceptance speeches as a continued call to action for us all.

You, the JFREJ membership, are clearly demonstrating your commitment to JFREJ’s future. Your generous support will fuel a powerful year of JFREJ organizing in 2013!

Honoree Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and Leslie Cagan

The crowd!

Host Deb Margolin

Executive Director Marjorie Dove Kent

Presenter Taryn Higashi

Presenter Jenny Levison and honoree Eric Ward

Bacilio Mendez, ACT UP honoree

Presenter Esther Kaplan

Presenter Michael Seltzer

Musicians Jenny Romaine, Avi Fox-Rosen, and Hannah Temple

Photos by Shulamit Seidler-Feller