Mt. Airy singer/songwriter organizes Post Office protest

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by Len Lear

Mt. Airy singer/songwriter Chana Rothman organized a demonstration on Tuesday, Aug. 25, noon, in front of the Mt. Airy Post Office, 6711 Germantown Ave., in coordination with the American Postal Workers Union as part of its National Day of Action to #SaveThePostOffice.

At least 25 area residents showed up to hear speakers and performers —

Felicia Parker-Cox, representing Congressman Dwight Evans’ office;

Unidos da Filadelfia, a Philly-based community percussion band; Aviva Perlo, local social worker and performance artist, and Rothman. There were many honks of support from people driving by, including postal drivers.

Rothman told the approving crowd that “the movement for our public Postal Service has three immediate demands of our elected officials and of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy: Provide at least $25 billion in immediate support for the Postal Service; Stop the mail slowdown policies introduced by DeJoy; and ensure public confidence in voting-by-mail by providing all necessary resources for the most timely delivery of election mail possible.”

A Pew Research Center survey released recently showed an overwhelming 91 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), higher than any other federal agency. “So, when I saw that the American Postal Workers Union was organizing a Day of Action,” Rothman said, “on the information site there was an option to 'plan your own action' so I clicked it and planned an event for Mt. Airy.”

The controversial DeJoy, a former trucking company CEO, is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades not to be a career postal employee. It has been widely reported that he has slowed down mail delivery around the country and has taken steps to slow down mail-in voting in particular.

The Associated Press has reviewed hundreds of pages of records related to DeJoy, his lucrative government contracts and his prolific donations to Republican candidates, including $1.2 million to Trump. His wife, Aldona Wos, is a prominent donor as well and has been nominated by Trump to serve as ambassador to Canada; her nomination is pending.

Rothman teaches music at Project Learn School in Mt. Airy, coordinates the Music Council there and is no newcomer to activism. She has been involved in the Women's March, Delaware Valley early childhood education conference, Foundation for Jewish Camp's Cornerstone Fellowship, rallies for immigration justice, racial justice and more.

But like almost all performers, she has been ravaged by the pandemic. “Unfortunately, I have lost work,” she said. “It is devastating that we can't sing safely together, truly a major blow to music as community building. Many concerts and conferences have been canceled or gone online. The online part is lovely but doesn't generally pay as well and has a totally different feeling than a live performance with people in a venue or outside.

“On the flipside, I have found myself much more available for virtual performances and can usually do them even when my children are in the house. Sometimes I can even bring my children into the performance for a song or two. I have also found great power in using social media as a platform for sharing music...

“It also allows me to connect music to the current struggles and issues we are facing during the pandemic. I believe one of important roles of the artist is to hold a mirror up to our society. And then, ideally, give us a vision of how it could/should be in the future.”

After many years of living in Brooklyn and touring extensively, the Toronto, Canada, native settled in Northwest Philadelphia 12 years ago and began building a nest with husband, Rabbi Kevin Kleinman. “We moved here when Kevin graduated from rabbinical school and got a job as assistant rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park. I appreciate him more than words can express. I'm grateful to be in a team with him. He supports me 100% all the time.”

Chana said the best advice she ever got came from Basya Schechter, a hugely gifted female Jewish singer/songwriter. “She told me to stop banging on the doors that are closing on you and focus on the doors that are opening, pertaining to music and building a career.”

For more information, visit chanarothman.com Rothman's music can be found on iTunes or Amazon.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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