Tuesday evening’s stunning game-changing election serves as evidence that creating a Jewish voice for social justice in Nashville could not have been timelier. Now at risk of being dismantled are more than a decade of progressive social programs that addressed critical human needs. Dashed is the hope that a more enlightened outcome would have advanced health care, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, environmental issues, tax and financial reform, and more. Instead this entire portfolio – and more – is threatened. Equally unsettling is that after an election campaign filled with vitriol, racism and misogyny, we are now witnessing increased anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic, even anti-Semitic rhetoric and episodes. This past week we have witnessed a rise in hate speech and incidents of intimidation against minority communities throughout Middle Tennessee. The tension feels stifling; many among us are sincerely frightened.
What are we to do? The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable (NJSJR) needs to stand tall and vigilant on top of the watchtower: calling out misdirection and misdeeds, and registering our loud voice of opposition – even resistance – to Presidential and Legislative actions that we believe detract from the common good. During the past year, the NJSJR Steering Committee has written policy statements, taken important positions, enlisted your help in calls to action, and created mechanisms for raising our voice: something we anticipate needing to do more often in the future.
Our immediate plan is to call our membership together in the weeks ahead to study and survey the new political landscape so that we can best be positioned to respond as needed. We anticipate that will need to call on you to raise your voices with ours more frequently than we ever expected when we embarked on our journey for justice. In the meantime, listed below are a few public events that we encourage you to attend.
As an FYI, J-Street has organized an online campaign urging President-Elect Trump to rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon as his Special Advisor and chief strategist and urging members of Congress to speak out against his appointment. The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations and civil rights organizations have called for the same. The ADL says it opposes the appointment of Bannon because he and the alt-right movement that he represents are “hostile to core American values.” While there has been no shortage of negative reaction to Bannon’s ascension to the West Wing, White Nationalists have hailed his appointment. Under Bannon’s leadership the incendiary Breitbart News has espoused anti-Semitic and nationalist views and similar views have been attributed to him personally. You can sign on to J-Street’s campaign at: http://act.jstreet.org/sign/keep-bannon-out-white-house/?aktmid=tm72829.ae37jO&nosig=1&rd=1&source=conf&t=1
We expect that the post-inauguration months will be a trying and active time for us. To this end, we hope to build our capacity to raise a Jewish voice. To this end, please share this update with others you know and encourage them to join NJSJR by subscribing to our newsletter at www.JSJRnashville.org.
Wishing you a Thanksgiving table grateful for what you are fortunate to have, but fearful of what so many others may lose.
On behalf of the NJSJR Steering Committee,
Avi Poster and Irwin Venick
U.S. SENATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS CHAMPION JOHN LEWIS
Public Lecture on his journey through and reflections of the Civil Rights Movement
Saturday, November 19 – 10:00am
Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet High School (613 17th Ave. N.)
NASHVILLE JEWISH FEDERATION “GLOBAL DAY OF JEWISH LEARNING”
Sunday, November 20 – 10:00am – 3:00pm
West End Synagogue
3810 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37205
Meet with Rabbis and Scholars to learn more about this year’s theme, Under the Same Sky: “The Earth is Full of Your Creations.”
Register at http://community.jewishfederation.org/site/Calendar?id=104406&view=Detail
TOWN HALL MEETING ON RACE, POLICING, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
With Mayor Megan Barry
The Temple – Congregation Ohabai Sholom
5015 Harding Pike
Wednesday, November 30; 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Confronting the Uncomfortable Realities of Poverty, Homelessness, and Race Relations
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY CELEBRATION
December 6, 2016; 5:00 – 7:00pm
Celebration of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Recognition of Human Rights Honorees
First Amendment Center
1207 18th Ave South #200
Reserve free tickets at NashvilleHumanRights.org