People’s Park

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On Friday, Jan. 5th, I (Rabbi Cat Zavis) joined with my dear friends Priestess Elana Auerbach and Becca Holtz to hold a Friday evening Shabbat service and gathering at People’s Park in Berkeley, CA. The previous day, shortly after midnight, Berkeley police gathered in mass (thousands of officers in full riot gear) to barricade the park and blocks around the park. Only people who live within the area surrounding the park are allowed to enter by foot after showing identification that they actually live there.

We set-up our shabbat candles at the barricade and led songs and I offered a short teaching on the story of the Exodus (liberation from slavery), drawing connections between liberation struggles throughout history and the ongoing liberation struggles here in the US, in Palestine, and around the world. The police stood behind the barricade and as the service progressed and we neared the end, the police, which increased dramatically in number and who were in full riot gear, pulled down their face coverings and began walking closer towards us. It appeared as if they were getting ready to break through the barrier and attack us. Fortunately there was no interaction between those gathered and the police at that time.

May we continue to uplift the voices that are calling for the end to occupation, state violence, and oppression throughout the world.

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Rabbi Cat Zavis is a passionate shaper of Jewish rituals and services that inspire and draw connections between the spiritual, personal, and political. She is a spiritual social justice activist, attorney, and visionary leader with over 20 years experience in empathic and people-centered leadership and collaboration. A sought after facilitator and trainer in nonviolent communication, prophetic empathy, collaboration, and conflict resolution, she has over 25 years experience working with and helping people understand our shared needs and how to challenge manifestations of othering and build beloved communities of belonging. As co-editor of Tikkun magazine she has both written articles and helped shape the magazine; as Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives she has trained over 1000 people in Prophetic Empathy and Revolutionary Love.

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