NJSJR February Newsletter


You could not write a believable political thriller with the actual facts of the day in it and find it believable. The happenings in D.C. make for great TV viewing … but beyond the intrigue are hair-raising trends upsetting to all of us. We could fill this newsletter circling around all that is happening … but knowing you are equally captive by the news thought we would sent out just a few things for you to consider.

Upcoming Events

There are two upcoming programs addressing positions our Roundtable has adopted that we hope you will consider attending … as well as encourage others to as well since both are open to the public. We hope you will save these dates and consider attending both, as well as encourage others to do the same.

Family of Abraham: Finding Balance in Civility, Community, Security: March 2, 2017
6:30 p.m.at The Temple (5015 Harding Pike).
Family of Abraham is pleased to present Dr. Sayyid Syeed, who is National Director of the Islamic Society of North America and heads up its Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances. The American Muslim community faces new challenges which Dr. Sayeed will address. Also participating in the program is Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

Refugees: Straight Talk: March 9, 2017
7:00 pm at West End Synagogue (3810 West End Ave.).
This panel discussion could not be more timely. On Tuesday of this week the White House released a pair of memos outlining aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, potentially resulting in millions of deportations. The guidelines lay out sweeping changes from the narrower approach taken by former President Obama. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows people who entered the country illegally as children to stay, seems to be protected … but even this program may be ultimately eliminated.  DACA could be ultimately eliminated, as President Trump looks to take a tough approach. The memos direct immigration enforcement agencies to hire thousands of new agents to apprehend people living in the country illegally, with local police and sheriffs’ offices enlisted in the effort.

This program will address these issues as well as the entire immigrant-refugee political landscape.  It is open to all Middle Tennesseans.  Vice Mayor David Briley will moderate a panel of experts which will include Kellye Brannon, Department Director, Refugee and Immigration Services for Catholic Charities of Tennessee; Greg Siskind, immigration lawyer and founding partner of Siskind-Susser; and Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). In addition, two refugees resettled in Nashville will tell their stories. A Q&A session and a dessert reception will follow. For information, call 615-269-4592; email office@westendsyn.com or Judy Saks at mountvu@att.net.

NJSJR Presents “Gun Sense in America”: March 30, 2017
7:00 pm at West End Synagogue (3810 West End Ave.).
An Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable sponsored forum, “Gun Sense in America”, will feature Beth Joslin Roth, executive director and policy director of the Safe Tennessee Project; and Laurie Woods, PhD., lecturer in sociology at Vanderbilt University and former police officer. The event is open to the Nashville community. More information to come.

Immigrants and Refugees

News from Washington comes at us at a rapid pace. As of this writing the White House is denying plans to mass deport, using 100,000 members Nation Guard, as reported on Friday morning by the Associated Press, which claims to have documentation supporting the report they released. Whether or not there is such a plan, what is clear is that the current administration plans to expand far more broadly the guidelines ICE uses under the Obama Administration for deporting undocumented immigrants. This means the potential for countless law abiding wage-earning immigrants being separated from their families or entire families being uprooted. According to Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who was in meetings with ICE on Friday, it is clear that a “mass deportation plan” is in place or being advanced.

This is fluid and frightening developing news that our Roundtable will be closely monitoring. As are you … we are deeply concerned for our immigrant and refugee neighbors many of whom are living in fear … especially families fearing being broken apart. Increased deportation raids and proposed refugee bans have given rise to protests in the streets, multiple lawsuits (including one recently filed by HIAS), along with massive calls and emails to elected officials. Countless Jewish organizations have expressed consternation and opposition to proposed government actions … just a few of which we have linked below:


NJSJR Letter to Elected Officials

The NJSJR sent a letter to State legislative leaders, including the Governor, as well as to each member of our Congressional delegation (thanks to Arik Shur, Roundtable Steering Committee member). Attached to this Newsletter is a sample of the letter NJSJR sent should you want to use it as a prototype for letters you might want to send yourself.



Health Care

Our concerns about the elimination of the Affordable Care Act remain high with actions from all of us needed. Although the repeal of the ACA has been slowed down, the substance of any “repeal and replace” plan has not been determined. Medicaid, “Block grants” – grants to the states with per capita caps (increased with inflation) and “flexibility” in administration – are being discussed. These almost certainly will result in reduction of needed health care to thousands of Tennesseans. Instead of coverage for pre-existing conditions without limitation, it appears the high risk pools may reappear although they have been shown to be insufficient. Congressional representatives will be in their districts the week of Feb. 20-24. They need to hear that any alternative to the ACA should guarantee affordable health coverage and comprehensive health services for all Americans. What you can do:

  • Join the Save My Care bus rally at Centennial Park, 2500 West End Ave., Nashville on Wednesday, Feb. 22 11:30-1:00. The Save My Care bus (see www.savemycare.org) is touring the country collecting stories and raising awareness of the threat to affordable and comprehensive health care. Letters will be collected and delivered to Sen. Alexander’s and Sen. Corker’s offices.
  • If possible, make an appointment to meet with Sen. Alexander: call his office 615-736-5129 (fax 615-269-4803) or email tnscheduling@alexander.senate.gov. You can check the Tennessee Justice Center website www.tnjustice.org for talking points (click on “Threats to Health Care” – What’s at Stake).
  • Continue to write letters to our Senators and to The Tennessean. Letters and phone calls are more effective than individual or group emails.


Japanese-American Day of Remembrance

Seventy five years ago this Sunday, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which led to the exclusion of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast and the incarceration of citizens and lawful permanent residents of Japanese ancestry in incarceration camps during World War II. On or near February 19 each year, Japanese Americans in Davidson County and around the country recognize a National Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness about the unjust measures taken to restrict the freedom of Japanese Americans during World War II and to resist repeating such unjust historical mistakes. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the importance of upholding justice and civil liberties for all people; to oppose hate, xenophobia, and bigotry; and to recognize the positive contributions that people of every race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin have made to our community.

Several Metro Council Members, with support from the Metro Human Relations Commission, will introduce a Resolution next week recognizing this Day of Remembrance, commemorating the historical significance of Executive Order 9066, and expressing a shared sense that discrimination against any individual based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion of that individual would be a repetition of the mistakes of Executive Order 9066.


Local, State and National Resources to Advance Social Justice

Many of us have had conversations about what can we do besides call and write our elected representatives at the State and Local level. The fact is that calling and writing is important and will have to be a sustained activity on our part. However, there are organizations and activities that you can engage in that may provide you with a heightened sense of participation and effectiveness. Sometime in the week ahead our Roundtable will compile and distribute a list of activities our members in which our members can consider engaging in. If you are aware of organizations or activities that you would like us to include in our compilation, please share them with us.