NJSJR September Newsletter

Although a couple of weeks away, our Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable would like to be one of the first to wish you L’Shana Tovah and G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

As we move rapidly approach this year’s Jewish High Holidays (Yamin Niraim), we are reminded that the High Holiday season is not only a time for us to engage in personal reflection about the past year but to also envision the year yet to be. It serves as an opportune time to reaffirm the Jewish tradition’s longstanding commitment to tikkun olam (the repair of the world)… something we take seriously as citizen stewards of the world G-d created on our behalf. Given the spate of recent social dilemmas and crises directly affecting our country, the High Holidays are the perfect time for us to ask hard questions of ourselves regarding the intersection of the principles of social justice and our consciousness as Jews.

We too are reflecting on the year ahead… during which we are pledged to continue and expand on the work we began as a social justice organization a little more than a year ago. In addition to continuing our current course of action aimed at educating ourselves and our membership about important issues of the day and raising our collective voices at opportune times, following the upcoming High Holidays we plan to offer those among us so interested to join advocacy teams that will study and advocate for some of our major concerns … criminal justice, poverty and affordable housing, issues related to immigrants and refugees, and health care reform. When the holidays are over we will email you to ask if you might want to join one of these action committees and will set a date for them to meet, likely on the same night following our regularly scheduled monthly Steering Committee meeting. Please be thinking about these issues and whether or not you want to step a bit deeper into the world of advocacy.

In the meantime, actions taken this week have alarmed us such that we are calling our membership to immediate action. The President’s decision to rescind the continuation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that allowed more than 800,000 younger undocumented immigrants to continue to live here without fear of deportation (more than 8,000 of whom reside in Tennessee), is certainly troublesome to all of us. The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable joins countless other organized voices in our community in condemnation of this decision and call on Congress to protect the heart and soul of our country by passing legislation that will protect those endangered by this action.

Now is the time for each of us to contact our Senators to call on them to speak up and take action of behalf of Dreamers (undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children); to ask them to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a legislative solution that respects the humanity, contributions and promise of these young Americans. Please call and email them, and then call and email them again.

Here’s a sample message: I am outraged that the President has terminated the successful DACA program, upending the lives of more than 8,300 young Tennesseans and 800,000 who reside in our country. This program has been a lifeline for these young Americans, providing a sense of security and a chance to dream and invest in their future. The President has disrupted their lives and futures, and the country has gained nothing. Congress must act now… and we hope you will lead the way by renouncing the President’s decision and publicly committing to support and work towards the swift passage of legislation that will restore protections for Dreamers who call our state and country home.

  • Please also call U.S. Representative Jim Cooper to thank him for standing up for Dreamers. He can be reached at 202-225-4311. His Chief of Staff, Lisa Quigley, can be reached at Lisa.Quigley@mail.house.gov.

Some additional bits and pieces…

  • Our community lost one of its giants with the passing of Rev. Bill Barnes. Bill was a longtime affordable housing and civil rights advocate and crusader for the poor. He was the voice for the voiceless and, as Mayor Barry described, the conscience of our city. He leaves behind a legacy of advocating for those with the least among us that we, and others, concerned about social justice are committed to continue in his name.
  • An important documentary, BIRTHRIGHT: A War Story, will be premiered at the Belcourt Theater on Wednesday, September 13 at 7:00 pm. It centers on the accelerating success of the crusade to control and criminalize women’s health and the resulting collateral damage that is rapidly turning into a public health crisis. This film has received rave reviews from Newsweek, the New York Times, LA Times, and many other news outlets. Producer/Director/Writer Civia Tamarkin will conduct a q and a with other Nashville advocates following the screening. Tickets can be purchased here.
  • NOAH and other organizations are continuing their efforts to enact an Ordinance in the Metropolitan Council to establish a Community Oversight Board. There will be a presentation by Kyle Mothershead and Sekou Franklin of the COB Collaboration at the Green Hills Library on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • With the Senate’s inability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee is conducting hearings on reforms that will support the private health care marketplace. The Haslam Administration is supporting these efforts.

In advance, thank you for taking these suggested action steps. It is important that you do. Know that we are looking forward to working with you after the Jewish New Year.

With hope for a better year ahead,
Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable