By Rabbi Moshe Givental
On Dec. 2, more than 70 young Jewish people and other concerned Detroiters gathered Downtown to shine the light of Chanukah on the struggles of Detroiters for access to affordable drinking water at “Illuminating Water Justice,” which took place following Menorah in the D.
Rev. Roslyn Bouier of Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry pointed out the painful paradox of these water issues in Detroit. “How can it be, here in Michigan of all places, surrounded by the largest source of fresh water on our continent, that we cannot provide water for every person who needs it? Even the U.N. recognizes water as a human right.”
Sylvia Orduño of the People’s Water Board Coalition shared the effects water shut-offs are having on families. Orduño said the city has started bringing in social workers at the same time they shut off the water to take away children because of their now unsafe environments.
The people gathered drew on the history of Chanukah, when a small band of Israelites fought back a corrupt empire to reclaim their own sovereignty and dignity. The celebration that first year was a belated commemoration of Sukkot, which centered a grand water-drawing ceremony, honoring the necessity of abundant water for human life.
It is in this context of struggle against corruption and respect water’s necessity, that Detroit Jews for Justice organized the event, calling on the city to end water shutoffs and create a water affordability plan.