Special to the Journal
BOSTON – On Saturday morning, 86-year-old Eva Greenwood took part in her first political demonstration.
Greenwood, a survivor of the Holocaust-era Kindertransport that rescued Jewish children in Nazi occupied Europe, joined her daughter Susan and her daughter’s family at Boston’s Women’s March for America, a grassroots women’s rights demonstration that drew an estimated 175,000 people to Boston Common one day after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump.
“I was very exhilarated and excited,” Greenwood told The Journal the day after the rally. “It made me so happy just to be there. It was a whole new thing for me.”
Greenwood closely followed the presidential campaign, her daughter Susan explained. The elder Greenwood, whose husband died in 2005, lives in Jamaica Plain with her daughter, her daughter’s spouse, Arnie Lucinda Stewart, and their teenage son Elijah.
Greenwood said she’s fearful of the direction of the country under President Trump and his Cabinet appointments. “It reminds me of Nazi Germany. I don’t trust him,” she said of the new president.
The multi-generational crowd was one of hundreds of sister demonstrations held in conjunction with the main march in Washington, D.C. where more than 300,000 people rallied.
In Boston and across the country, Jewish participation left its mark, individually and from Jewish organizations. The National Council of Jewish Women, based in New York City, was the only Jewish organization that was part of the official coordinating group at the national level, according to Nancy Kaufman, NCJW’s CEO. Kaufman is a familiar face on the North Shore, having lived in Swampscott for decades.
“It was incredible,” she said of the march in D.C. “This was a pro-women’s march, a pro-human rights march. But now what do we do? After we march, we organize, we organize,” she said.
Kaufman spearheaded the effort among national Jewish groups to march together under one banner as a visibly organized Jewish presence, a potent symbol of Jewish support in social causes and tikkun olam, according to Kaufman.
“This is clearly an historic moment and there’s a role Jewish women are playing, where Jewish women have particular responses,” according to Judith Rosenbaum, director of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a Boston-based national organization that participated in the march and related Jewish programs in Washington D.C. and Boston.
History is filled with examples of Jewish women taking to the street over political and social issues, in the U.S., and across Europe in earlier generations, she told The Journal in a phone conversation before the march.
In Boston, women, men, babies in baby carriers, toddlers in strollers, children on the shoulders of parents and people with canes and in wheelchairs filled every inch of Boston Common and overflowed into nearby streets on Beacon Hill and in the Back Bay for a rally before the march.
“We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back!” proclaimed U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Other elected leaders addressing the crowd included U.S. Senator Edward Markey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. State Treasurer Deb Goldberg was among other elected leaders on the stage.
The election was permeated with hatred and bigotry that are antithetical to the country’s values, according to State Representative Lori Ehrlich, of Marblehead. In an email the day before the march, Ehrlich, who is Jewish, wrote, “I march to protect things like equality, choice, the planet, while also making a statement about dignity and common decency.”
After the hour-plus rally, demonstrators slowly made their way onto Beacon Street for a one-mile march. It took an hour and a half for the thousands of people to file out of the Common and join the march.
Jewish Voices at Boston’s Women’s March for America
More than thirty-five members of Temple B’nai Brith in Somerville hopped on the MBTA in Porter Square early Saturday morning to get to the rally where they held a synagogue banner and hand-made signs including “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” and “Justice, Justice, She Shall Pursue,” a feminist version of Judaism’s tenet from Deuteronomy.
“I felt it was important for members who wanted to be able to participate [in the march] as part of their Jewish community,” said Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz, TBB’s rabbi. “There’s value in marching as Jews. It connects to civil rights, to human rights and to tikkun olam,” she said of the decision approved by the board of directors to participate.
About fifteen members of Minyan Shalem, which holds its Shabbat services at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, walked to the march following their Shabbat minyan that started early to accommodate people who wanted to participate in the protest, according to Shira.
“There was something powerful about working together as a community so that people could participate in this march while still supporting our regular Shabbat community,” she said in an email on Sunday.
The rally was welcoming and “really seemed to be expressing a wide variety of agendas, all of which were about inclusivity and against bigotry,” she wrote.
Sheryl Rosner marched with her husband, David Berman, of Lexington, and their three daughters, the eldest two of whom attend local colleges while the third is a high school freshman. The family belongs to Temple Isaiah, a Reform congregation in Lexington.
“It was amazing. I had never seen that many people in one place,” explained Alana Berman, a freshman at Gann Academy, a pluralistic Jewish high school in Waltham. “I mainly wanted to go because Trump is disrespectful of women and doesn’t treat women the way humans should be treated,” she said.
Rosner, a senior advisor for the Environmental Protection Agency, characterizes herself as being “heartbroken” over the threats to the work of the EPA under the new administration. Candidate Trump and now President Trump, and some of his advisers “want to brush science under the table,” she explained.
Rosner was moved by the event and hopes to see the energy of the march turned into a sustained effort. “We made our voices heard. It has to go on,” she said.