Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, spiritual leader of Temple Emanu-El in Haverhill, has been named a Global Justice Fellow by the American Jewish World Service.
The AJWS Global Justice Fellowship is a “selective program designed to inspire, educate and train key opinion leaders in the American Jewish community to become advocates in support of U.S. policies that will help improve the lives of people in the developing world,” according to the organization's website.
Broekhuysen and 13 other 2019-20 fellows will join the organization's pursuit of justice throughout the world, supporting local organizations in countries in the global south. The Fellowship focuses on the AJWS’ initiative to support human rights in Guatemala, "ending violence and discrimination against women, youth and indigenous people, and protecting the land and natural resources that farmers need to survive."
The fellowship includes a three-day training retreat in New York, followed by travel to Guatemala in late January or early February of 2020 to learn and advocate with Guatemalans directly affected by oppressive conditions there.
Discussing her upcoming travel Broekhuysen said, "This will not be easy or comfortable learning. We never enjoy becoming aware, personally or communally, of pain that others experience. But I know that there’s a lot of good that allies such as ourselves can do, which AJWS helps to facilitate, and I will bring opportunities for help and healing back to our community."
Broekhuysen was ordained by Hebrew College in June 2016, when she also earned her master of Jewish education.
Broekhuysen says she deeply values opportunities to pursue both spiritual enrichment and social justice in interfaith environments. She is a member and former secretary of the New England Board of Cantors, a member of the Greater Haverhill Clergy Association, a founding member of the Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network, and a chaveirah (fellow) of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
In 2018, she was honored at the Merrimack Valley Project’s annual Ministry in Community Action Honoree dinner for her work in immigration justice in the Merrimack Valley. She lives in North Andover with her husband and two sons.