I worked with Michael B. Schwartz, director of the Tucson Arts Brigade, while writing for the Arizona Daily Star. When we first met, Schwartz spoke about a mural arts program he was trying to launch with the support of city leaders. The program had two goals; abate graffiti and beautify the city. He brightened, smiling wide, we he described his idea and worked laboriously to make it come alive.
Around the time these eight murals were completed, the city was looking for some photos of the successful, civically engaging project — and more specifically the local transit authority was designing its new schedule. Sun Tran wanted some shots and Schwartz says he knew who to call.
To see this program take off is one thing, but to play a small role in promoting this wonderful and invaluable project is another.
Cantor Avraham Alpert at the Holocaust History Center at the Jewish History Museum Sept. 2.
Driving one of Tucson’s new Israeli teen emissaries, Leah Avuno, from a lunch and learn on the University of Arizona campus to her next destination, Cantor Avraham Alpert found his talking point. Avuno, originally from Ethiopia, told him Ethiopian Jews would never have made it to Israel if it weren’t for the American Jews who funded their aliyah. Then she asked why American Jews cared about the plight of her people.
He answered by telling Avuno about the role of U.S. Jews in the civil rights movement and the parallels between blacks and Jews as victims of discrimination. They spoke about Jews of color in Israel, Ethiopia and Uganda. It was only later that Alpert, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bet Shalom, came up with a simpler answer: The Torah has always tasked the Jews with bringing justice to the world.