The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is monitoring a number of important local and national issues that we believe deserve our attention and, when timely, the raising of our voice. Events we recommend Roundtable members attending, and immediate actions we recommend taking, include the following:
- After intense debate, the Tennessee General Assembly passed HB 2315, one of the country’s most extreme anti-immigrant bills. According to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), while state and federal laws already require local governments and law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration law, HB 2315 goes much further. It is a sweeping measure designed to coerce localities to go above and beyond the law, turning every request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain someone into an unconditional directive and prohibiting localities from ensuring there is probable cause or a judicial warrant before denying a person his or her freedom. The bill also requires all law enforcement officers, even campus police, to inquire about immigration and citizenship status in even the most routine interactions. TIRRC is urging us to immediately contact the Governor and ask him to veto this bill because it will make Tennessee a more dangerous place for immigrant families to live and will only serve to give notice that Tennessee is not a welcoming state. Read TIRRC’s press release. Please consider calling Governor Haslam at the governor’s office (615-741-2001) to ask him to veto HB 2315 and/or email the Governor.
- West End Synagogue’s Social Action Committee is hosting a free, certainly timely, public forum, The Opioid Crisis that will address key questions (What are opioids? How serious is the crisis? How did we get here? What can we do?). The event will take place at West End Synagogue (3810 West End Avenue) on May 10 at 7:00pm. Expert panelists speaking at the event will include Dr. Michael Baron, Medical Director of the Tennessee Medical Foundation, Mary Linden Salter, Executive Director of the TN Assoc. of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addiction Services, and Kappu Deshpande, Assistant Fire Chief, Metro Fire Department. The event is free and open to the public. Dessert reception will follow.
- The League of Women Voters of Nashville is hosting a timely presentation entitled Gun Violence From An Academic and Activist Perspective. The guest expert who will be speaking is Laurie Woods -Vanderbilt Lecturer in Sociology and a representative from Tennessee Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She will speak on gun violence and how it impacts our community. No reservations are needed. The program is open to the public and will be offered twice … Monday, May 6 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at Good Will Lifsey Career Solutions Center (937 Herman St.) and Wednesday, May 9 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm at the Green Hills Library Community Room (3701 Benham Ave.).
- According to legislation released this week, the Trump Administration confirmed it is seeking to impose work requirements, rent increases, and other burdens on millions of low-income families who receive Federal housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The proposal would leave even more low-income people – including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children, and other vulnerable populations – without stable homes, making it harder for them to climb the economic ladder to achieve financial security and live with dignity. Cutting housing benefits will not create jobs that pay decent wages or other opportunities needed to lift people out of poverty. Instead, cuts would only make it harder for low-income people. Instead, Congress and the Administration should expand investments in affordable rental homes, implementing bipartisan legislation passed in 2016 to help incentivize earnings, and scaling up solutions that work. We are concerned about the cuts proposed and will be watching as the budget moves through Congress.
- Of particular and immediate concern, the House version of the Farm Bill includes harmful cuts and changes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This legislation could be brought to the House floor as early as the week of May 7. SNAP is one of our most successful anti-poverty/anti-hunger programs. It provides critically needed support to nearly 8 million adults and 4 million children. What is being proposed will limit the assistance we are now giving and place untenable obstacles in front of people, including parents raising children, people with disabilities, older adults, and people who are working but struggling to get enough hours or get by on low wages. Food banks and other remaining assistance programs will never be able to make up for the loss families will experience. We need to make sure our legislators know that we support keeping SNAP strong. You can email or call to support SNAP to members of our Congressional delegation.
- Governor Haslam has continued to advocate for the extension of federally funded health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Tennesseans. While he has not had success in convincing our State Legislature to support him, you should contact the Governor to thank him for his efforts and to encourage him to continue on his quest to expand healthcare to people in need.
- Our Roundtable supports the work of other advocacy groups that address critical social needs. We encourage out membership to consider signing on to two of them … Welcome Home! The Movement for Affordable Housing and the Tennessee Justice Center. Welcome Home! is a coalition of Nashvillians advocating for a comprehensive, inclusive, and adequately funded plan to address the urgent need for affordable housing. The Tennessee Justice Center works strenuously to protect and improve healthcare policies and programs.
- On the evening of May 23 at the Gordon JCC, The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation will be hosting a conversation with representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition to learning about the formation and current work of SPLC we will have timely conversation on racism in America and particularly in Tennessee. Among many other things, the SPLC monitors hate groups and other extremists through out the U.S. and expose their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public. We will share more information about this event as we learn it; just wanted to get it on your calendars.
- Mayor Briley has embarked on a listening tour to hear, face-to-face, concerns of Nashvillians. He has had two such listening events so far with more scheduled. These are great opportunities to share your concerns and ideas with the Mayor as well as hear his responses to questions you may have. The remaining sessions will be at … Coleman Park Community Center (Thursday, May 10 at 6:30pm), Whites Creek High School (Saturday, May 12 at 10:00am), and John Overton High School (Monday, May 14 at 6:30 pm).