“Bring Your Teaspoon”

A rousing speech delivered by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

We have gathered here are from many faiths, cultural and ethnic traditions and walks of life.  We have come as Americans, especially as American women. In our diversity – we are the face of America.  

We come with one voice and one resolve to say—We are not going back.

In 1960 a woman could not get a credit card, a bank loan or own property in her name.  We are not going back. 

In 1960 women could not report sexual harassment in the workplace. Women were told, “Boys will be boys” or “you asked for it; it’s your fault.” We are not going back.

In 1960 domestic violence was a family problem not a crime. We are not going back.   

In 1960 women could not obtain a safe and legal abortion. Hundreds died from back alley abortions. One of them was my neighbor. We are not going back.

In 1960 women could not purchase contraceptive devices and medications to control their own pregnancy and could not receive comprehensive sex education in the school. We are not going back.   

In 1960 women made up less than 1% of medical and law schools and many job opportunities were closed to them. I know; I entered a professional in which there were not any women. We are not going back.   

In 1960 homosexuality was considered a psychiatric disorder, discrimination was rampant and marriage between people of the same sex was prohibited. We are not going back. 

In the early 1960s there was racial segregation in most public places, in schools, in housing, in employment, even in our city. We are not going back.

In 1940 Italian, German and Japanese immigrants were required to register, to our shame.  Jews escaping Nazi Germany were prevented from entering the United States, abandoning millions to certain death, to our shame. We are not going back.  

I am here representing Women4Change Indiana, an inclusive, nonpartisan and grassroots organization to promote the health, safety and respect of all Hoosiers. Motivated by a desire to address the escalating rhetoric of hate and the increasing acts of intimidation and violence which demean minorities, immigrants and women, we are a powerful voice for change.  

We are over 3000 women strong and we are growing.  Our Summit on February 7 has 1400 attending. We are not going back. 

Some years ago, the award-winning author, Amos Oz said that there are a number of ways to respond to calamity. Take the example of a fire.  What can you do?  You can run away. You can write an angry letter to the newspaper or tweet about who should be held accountable. Or you can bring a bucket of water to throw on the fire.  “If you don’t have a bucket,” he adds, “bring a glass, and if you don’t have a glass, bring a teaspoon.  Everyone has a teaspoon. I know a teaspoon is little, and the fire is huge but there are millions of us and each one of us has a teaspoon.” 

Bring your teaspoon as a teacher and a neighbor;

Bring your teaspoon as a scientist and an artist;

Bring your teaspoon as an employee and an employer;

Bring your teaspoon as a mother and a daughter, as a father and a son; 

Bring your teaspoon as a citizen; 

and pour water on hate and fanaticism.

The poet and author, Marge Piercy wrote; “A strong woman loves strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly terrified. A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not to be done.”

A strong woman is determined never to go back to a time when her rights over her body, her dignity and her opportunities were restricted.  

A strong woman carries a teaspoon determined in vigilance, in volition and in vision.   

We are strong women. We all have a teaspoon. And we are not going back.

 Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso delivered these remarks at the Indianapolis sister rally site of the Women’s March on Washington. Read more about Women 4 Change Indiana at their website: https://www.women4changeindiana.org/