Penny Rosenwasser, Middle East Children’s Alliance Events Coordinator extraordinaire—and so much more—is leaving her staff position after 32 years of amazing accomplishments. We will miss her a great deal, but we know that while she will no longer be on staff, she will always be a part of MECA and will continue her activism for justice in Palestine.
Penny began work at MECA in 1990, just two years after Barbara Lubin and Howard Levine started the organization, when events were the main source of funds. Penny produced more than 250 outstanding and popular events, for audiences ranging from 30 to 3,600 people, including renowned figures like Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, and Howard Zinn, poets Naomi Shihab Nye, June Jordan, and Alice Walker; performing artists Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Holly Near, Mos Def, and Melanie DeMore. Writers and scholars like Ali Abunimah, Naomi Klein, Ilan Pappe, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, and Dave Zirin. Penny’s work brought Palestinian performers and speakers directly to Bay Area communities and beyond. She produced the Oakland performance of Shoruq’s Youth Debka Troupe’s first US tour, and events with Dr. Mona El-Farra, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Diana Buttu, Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, Haneen Zoabi, among many, many others.
Penny’s work and commitment went far beyond event production. She led four MECA women’s delegations to Palestine. Together with MECA founder Barbara Lubin, Penny organized rallies, marches, and vigils to protest Israeli occupation of Palestine, assaults on Lebanon, and sanctions and war on Iraq. They were arrested more than once sitting in at the Israeli Consulate and organized a major demonstration that stopped Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking in Berkeley.
“I’ve been so honored to serve MECA’s critical mission since 1990, and I’m grateful for the ways I’ve grown, both personally and professionally, by contributing to MECA’s profound accomplishments. I leave with warm appreciation and thanks to all MECA staff for the hard work and care they give to MECA and the children and families we serve, every day. Immense thanks to all our supporters and volunteers, as well. Very special thanks to Barbara Lubin and Howard Levine, who had the passion to create MECA in 1988. Barbara taught me about Palestine, about going for a big vision, and about generosity and love.”