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.