NJSJR September Update

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Dear NJSJR Members,

On behalf of the NJSJR Steering Committee … please accept our best wishes going into the High Holiday season. May Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur bring you an opportunity to reflect on the year past and prepare for what we hope will be a healthy and happy and healthy year ahead, filled with abundant joy and peace, for you and those you love. Shana Tovah.

We are very grateful to those of you who were able to join us at our July gathering. The turnout was impressive. A lot has been happening since we met. Our Steering Committee, using some of the suggestions we heard from you and our guest panelists, has continued to hone our statements on justice issues, consider upcoming events, and plan for future actions we can take before and after the November election.

Speaking of the November election, we don’t have to remind you of how important its outcome will be. If you haven’t registered to vote … you must do so on or before October 11 at (http://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission/Voters/Voting-Information/Voter-Registration.aspx). In the past Presidential election, only 58% of eligible voters went to the polls, a showing so poor that it places the United States near the bottom when compared with other developed nations (Israel, by the way, ranks near the top). We are all too familiar with attempts to suppress voter turnout, largely aimed at poor, young, minority and immigrant votes. It is critical that everyone register and vote.

Much has been happening on the local front:

The Metro Council recently adopted meaningful policies that hopefully will advance the creation of desperately needed affordable and workforce housing. While the actions taken were not as bold as we had hoped, nevertheless what was adopted is a positive first step that will hopefully lead to more aggressive steps in the future.

In addition, a bill to reduce the penalty of possession of a half-once of marijuana, sponsored by Bellevue Councilman Dave Rosenberg, has moved through two readings and will soon be up for a final vote. As Dawn Deaner of our Public Defenders Office noted, this ordinance is an important and smart step towards criminal justice reform and offers a common sense alternative to criminal prosecution that leads to lifelong consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

As NJSJR has positions on both affordable housing and criminal justice, members of our Steering Committee have been actively monitoring and engaged in this legislation.

Lastly, there are several events taking place in the weeks ahead that we wanted to alert you to and encourage your participation.

On Saturday, September 24, at approximately 11:00am, Rev. Judy Cummings will address social justice issues related to affordable housing, economic equity, and criminal justice during Shabbat services at West End Synagogue. Rev. Cummings is a dynamic speaker long in the trenches fighting for justice issues.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27th, SURJ Nashville will meet at 7:00 at the East End United Methodist Church (1212 Holy Street). SURJ Nashville is a chapter of the national Showing Up for Racial Justice network and is devoted to organizing white people for racial justice in Middle Tennessee through education, outreach, and mobilization.

On September 30 – October 1 there will be an Action Summit: Restoring Justice in our City. This conference will address mass incarceration and foster restorative justice. Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, will be the keynote speaker. This conference is open to the public and will take place at the Baptist Word Center (Baptist World Center, 1700 Baptist World Center Dr.). It is being jointly sponsored by American Baptist College, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Metro Human Relations Commission. For more information, call (615) 322-5844 or email ctp@vanderbilt.edu.

On October 6, 2016, The Temple will host a Candidates’ Forum for Sen. District 20 with Sen. Steve Dickerson and Erin Coleman. Please contact The Temple for more information.

The Temple/Vanderbilt University Holocaust Series, Moving from Indifference to Action, will take place October 15 – November 12. In addition to many outstanding speakers and programs at the Temple and on Vanderbilt Campus, a moving exhibit entitled Holocaust By Bullets will be on display at The Temple (5015 Harding Pike) throughout the series. For more detailed information visit: http://conta.cc/2abNThT.

That’s it for this month. Please share this update with others you know and encourage them to join us at … www.JSJRnashville.org.

Again, wishing you the most contemplative and peaceful High Holidays ahead … and a very Happy New Year.

Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and the NJSJR Steering Committee

July 21 Panel Event and Membership Meeting a Huge Success

A panel of three current and former Jewish Metro Council members told an audience of more than 40 people at the first Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable membership meeting on July 21 how their Jewish upbringing and values have affected their decisions as public servants.

Observer photo from NJSJR 7_21_16 meeting (2)

From left: Jim Shulman, Sheri Weiner and Ronnie Steine with Irwin Venick, moderator, also gave suggestions about how to be advocates with public officials on NJSJR issues and positions. Their advice: learn the issues that are before the council; attend public meetings; be a resource for council members; and get appointed to city boards and commissions. The meeting took place at West End Synagogue.  Anyone in the Jewish community interested in NJSJR can go to JSJRnashville.org to read the current position statements and join the group.