The 2017 Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards were a smash hit! Whether you volunteered that night, joined the Host Committee, or cheered us on from afar, you helped make it our most successful event ever, raising over $108,000.

As always, it wasn’t just the funds raised that made it so meaningful. It was being in a space with over 500 JFREJers and allies and rededicating ourselves to sanctuary for all, with inspiring art, ritual, and song fueling our resolve. Our honorees embodied our commitment to building power from the ground up, and following the lead of the most marginalized among us - women and people of color in particular - to get free. From Bernie Sander’s video presentation of the award to Linda Sarsour to the rousing march to and rally at Senator Schumer’s office to demand a Clean #DreamActNow, the event displayed the full beauty of the community and inspired us for the work ahead.

Meyer Awardee Rabbi Ellen Lippmann and presenter Rosa Lander.

A few other highlights:

  • The 2017 Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Awards program book.
  • Initial photos from the night can be seen here! Have any great ones that you took? Send them to
  • Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, in her acceptance speech, drew on “Ella’s Song,” a favorite of Sweet Honey in the Rock, but changed the lyrics to say “we who believe in freedom have to rest so it can come”. We know that social justice takes work and effort, and we know that it is sometimes in the quiet moments that we can envision the world we want to see.
  • Rosa Lander, daughter of City Councillor Brad Lander, reflected on marching with Ellen in support of the Right to Know Act, turned to her father and asked pointedly, “which you’re going to get passed this year, right Dad??”

Allison Julien on behalf of Meyer Awardee We Dream in Black and presenter Monifa Bandele

  • We Dream in Black showed us why it’s so important to center the leadership of Black women - as one tweet shared, “I’ve never been in a Jewish space as vocal in its love and appreciation for women of color than @JFREJNYC’s #Meyer2017.”
  • And Linda reminded us: “Our solidarity is sanctuary. We will not let them divide us. Fear is a choice and it’s not on my list.” (For more inspiration and love for JFREJ from Linda, see our video here.)

Meyer Awardee Linda Sarsour and presenter Sophie Ellman-Golan

And of course, the work is not over - you are warmly invited to our partner T’ruah’s #NotTheWhiteHouseChanukahParty. What better way to say Chag Sameach than to celebrate and rise up together outside of Trump Tower?

Finally, we’d like to invite you to make a year end gift to JFREJ - all gifts before December 31st will be matched by a generous donor, up to $15,000! And if you’re really inspired to help, join us for our end of year “Get the Gelt” action night to get on the phones and encourage our members to meet that match!

I’m bursting with love and admiration for this community and look forward to being in the work with you into 2018 and beyond.


Audrey Sasson Executive Director