Our 25th Anniversary Celebration and Awards

Over five hundred people filled a hall at UC Berkeley’s student union to celebrate 25 years of Tikkun magazine and honor six progressive heroes on Monday, March 14.

The individual at the event who has been most in the news in the past year was Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the UN report on Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Justice Goldstone delivered one of the best speeches of the night.

But if anyone had come primarily for Justice Goldstone, they would have been astonished at the depth and range of topics and people at this remarkable event.

The many flavors of a transformative worldview were evoked in song, poetry, humor, story-telling, cartoons, and speeches—historical, analytical and visionary. And that’s not to mention the delicious buffet of food. Click here to watch lively videos from the event.

Congressman Grijalva was unavoidably detained in Washington by House business and sent a video. We were treated to speeches from the other five honorees, including stories told with theatrical flair by Naomi Newman, and poems delivered by C.K. Williams. We will be posting videos from the event soon. Meanwhile here is the program, and below it the text for each award, explaining why we chose each of the six honorees, along with photos taken of them at the event.

The Tikkun Awards

Naomi Newman
This Tikkun Award is presented in recognition of your outstanding service through the years as a director, playwright, performer, and teacher, as well as your commitment to theater as a sacred vehicle capable of changing and healing individuals and society. By co-founding A Traveling Jewish Theatre, which has received international recognition for its artistic excellence, you have offered a profound gift to all of us in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the world. Your theatrical work has helped to illuminate the life questions that confront us all. You’ve shown that the Jewish tradition has universal messages that can contribute to the deep inner work and healing that is so badly needed on our planet, and to the evolution of consciousness of the human race.

C. K. Williams
Tikkun gives this award to you, C.K., even though we know your poetry has been widely acknowledged in the world already through the Pulitzer Prize and much more. We at Tikkun have been blessed to publish a few of your poems and have recognized your unique contributions through poetry to the healing and transformation of the world. There is no poet writing today who is more attuned to the ethical implications of poetry than you. In your growing body of work, which now spans over forty years, you’ve enhanced our mindfulness, illuminating our experience of wonder, fear, doubt, curiosity, yearning, hopefulness, resolve, anger, and tenderness. You’ve evoked the recognition of one’s belonging, the necessity of one’s separation, the inevitability of extinction, and the intuition of duration. You’ve sustained a radical amazement wedded to a radical skepticism, dissolving facile dualisms and recording our spiritual struggles. You are one of our great storytellers of consciousness, helping us to imagine change. With verbal intensity, formal energy, restless intelligence, unyielding scrutiny, and authenticity, you have become one of this country’s great poets of conscience. We honor you for poetry that contributes dramatically and subtly to the tikkun-ing (the healing and transformation) of our world.

Marcia Prager
Rabbi Marcia Prager, you have been an inspiration for an entire generation of Jewish Renewal rabbis. As director of the Jewish Renewal rabbinic training program, you’ve set the standards high by teaching us to integrate spiritual wisdom with the grace and emotional openness and beauty that the Kabbalah calls Tiferet and of which you are a living example. When we think of the Shechinah indwelling in the souls of all humans, your way of opening to the God energy in the universe gives this concept a powerful embodiment. Your book The Path of Blessing, combined with the startling and nourishing experience so many people have when davening with you, has taught people of all faiths how to pray at a time when prayer has been largely lost to many as a path to God. You are a great teacher and an inspired rebbe, and through your many gifts you’ve made a significant contribution to the healing and transformation of our world.

Judge Richard J. Goldstone
Your lifetime of work to support social justice, peace, and fairness; your dedication to healing the wounds imposed by apartheid in South Africa; and your honest exploration of the human rights violations in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Gaza have earned you the respect of tens of millions of people around the planet, as well as the gratitude of spiritual progressives and liberal and progressive Jews. We at Tikkun salute your willingness to report on the human rights abuses about which you received testimony while exploring the consequences of the Israeli assault on Gaza, though this report was painful to you, given your loyalty to the Jewish people and your desire to see Israel remain secure and safe. In so doing, you showed the world that it is possible to be dedicated to Judaism and the Jewish people as well as committed to the well-being of everyone on the planet of every faith, nationality, and ethnicity—a position that we have long espoused in Tikkun. You have done the world and the Jewish people a great service through your life of service to humanity.

Raul Grijalva
Congressman Raul Grijalva, we honor you today for both your courage and your ethical wisdom. You have been a leader of the immigrant rights struggles in the House of Representatives. Representing an Arizona congressional district, you had the courage to oppose the Arizona law that mandates police checks of citizenship documentation and to call on legal, political, activist, and business groups not to hold their conventions or conferences in the state. And you are so well loved that you were reelected by your constituents despite detractors’ attempts to distort your record. You have opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, sponsored numerous education bills, championed environmental sanity and biodiversity, and supported endangered species and wilderness conservation. As co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, you supported single-payer health care and fought for a public option. You have championed Native American rights and introduced the RESPECT Act, which mandates that federal agencies consult with Native tribes before taking a variety of major actions. You have been a strong ally for Tikkun magazine and our interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives by cosponsoring in the U.S. House of Representatives our proposed Global Marshall Plan and our proposed Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ESRA). We salute you for all that you have done for humanity as you contribute to the tikkun-ing (healing and transformation) of our world.

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
This Tikkun Award is presented in recognition of your role as a teacher and interpreter of the Qur’an in a way that is deeply rooted in tradition and yet reflects also a grappling with what is best in Western thought and culture. You have guided the creation of Zaytuna College and are chair of its board of trustees, and through that school you seek an understanding of Islamic law that is sophisticated and responsive to the highest ethical values of the human race. You have been at the forefront of creating an Islam that rejects triumphalist interpretations and combines a traditionalist and mystical approach with an attentiveness to the religious and pastoral needs of the rapidly expanding Muslim community in the West. In this way you have supported the integration of Muslims into America without abandoning the deep truths and insights of Islam.


Unfortunately this wonderful celebration provoked some extremists to plaster Michael Lerner’s home with words and images of hate, on a strange day when an ad hominem smear about us also appeared in our local paper and this website crashed for several hours. We suppose it shows some people are afraid we are being effective.

Credit: All still photos are by Lea Delson, www.delsonphoto.com, with our thanks.

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