NJSJR Thanksgiving Newsletter

As we approach another Thanksgiving… with the traditional sitting around the table reflecting on all of which we are grateful for having, we thought it timely to share a few Thanksgiving thoughts.

1. During the Holiday Season, beginning this Thanksgiving and extending into the new year, the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) is inviting people from all over the country to take part in its Revive Civility Initiative by “Setting the Table for Civility.” NICD and more than 80 national and local partner organizations, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, urge you to make a special effort to pause and reflect this holiday season on the need to heal the divisions in our country and take action by asking each other the three questions highlighted below:

(More tools for group conversations can be found at http://www.revivecivility.org/)

2. Thank you to all who responded to our call for action to reach out to our two Senators on tax reform. With the House bill passed, and the Senate about to pass one of its own before reconciliation of both begins, your shout outs to Senators Corker and Alexander were timely given the threats tax reform in their current iterations pose to the critical safety net programs in place that help millions. If you haven’t made your calls (see our last newsletter) please consider doing so. Contact info for our Senators follows at the end of this newsletter.

3. While on the conversation about reaching out to elected officials, please consider making one more call… to our Senators again to ask them to please sign on to the Dream Act of 2017… a bipartisan legislation that would allow around 1.5 million U.S.-raised immigrant youth to earn lawful permanent residence and start on a path to American Citizens upon meeting a set of criteria. The Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has placed 800,000 Dreamers at risk of deportation. The Dream Act of 2017 would rectify this decision. Various versions of the Dream Act have been introduced at least ten times. They have passed either the House or Senate, but not both in the same Congressional session. The current version, while certainly not perfect, improves upon previous bills and is prudent legislation that creates a needed pathway. It is critical that Congress stand up for these youth and take swift action to replace fear and uncertainty with permanent protection!! It needs to be passed as a stand-alone bill. Contact info for our Senators follows at the end of this newsletter.

Please accept our wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. In the weeks after we will be sharing more detailed information about our plans to engage members of our Roundtable more directly in social action.

— Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Steering Committee

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office at (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office at (615) 736-5129
Also email David Cleary, his Chief of Staff, at David_Cleary@alexander.senate.gov

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office at (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office at (615) 279-8125
Also email his Todd Womack, his Chief of Staff, at Todd_Womack@corker.senate.gov

Immediate Call to Action on Proposed Tax Reform Bill

There are a number of important issues in front of Congress that deserve our attention that the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is carefully monitoring. The issue in front of Congress this week is tax reform, which is why we are sending out this action bulletin. Coming up swiftly behind tax reform are important decisions on DACA and the Federal budget.

We are asking that you join our Roundtable in raising your voice against the proposed tax bill. NJSJR stands in strong alliance with organizations with which we align including, but not limited to, JCPA, The Tennessee Justice Center, The Center for American Progress, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Coalition on Human Needs, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty in Nashville, Americans for Tax Fairness, and countless others. We rise against this proposed legislation because it would provide billions of tax breaks to wealthy individuals and corporations by cutting programs that help reduce poverty and make lives easier for many among us.

Congressman Cooper has weighed in on tax reform with reason. Unfortunately, to varying degrees, Senators Corker and Alexander have indicated support. As both are considered to be persuadable targets … especially Senator Corker … local and national advocacy partners have reached out to us urging us to connect with both.

Please take a few minutes to email and call both Senator Corker and Senator Alexander. Urge them NOT TO VOTE for the current iteration of tax reform as it serves no national purpose, will not create jobs as some profess it will, and will not provide relief across the middle class. The proposed tax bill will instead provide tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals and corporations based on the promise of trickle-down economics. Some low/middle-income individuals and families will actually pay more – especially people with high medical expenses or student loan debt, people who adopt children, and immigrant families. Remind our Senators that if this bill becomes law, low- and middle-income people will suffer for years to come. The proposed tax bill will add trillions to our deficit that will lead to future cuts in key federal programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, education, SNAP, housing, job training, and more.

In advance, thank you again for raising your voice in supporting issues of critical importance such as this one.

The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Steering Committee

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office at (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office at (615) 736-5129
Also email David Cleary, his Chief of Staff, at

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office at (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office at (615) 279-8125
Also email Todd Womack, his Chief of Staff, at

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

Immediate Call to Action on Proposed Senate Healthcare Bill

As you well know, the Senate Healthcare Bill (BCRA) has been released … and the picture it paints is not looking pretty.

While we know many of you have likely received other calls for action we thought it necessary to distribute one of our own. Unless the Senate bill is voted down or postponed, health care will get far more expensive for most people using the marketplaces, people with pre-existing conditions will once again find coverage unaffordable, Medicaid will be slashed by more than $800 billion over the next 10 years, and within three years Medicaid expansion (which has covered 11 million more people) will lose its special funding. Actually what has been released is not a healthcare bill … but a deep healthcare reduction. People who earn below that national mean, particularly children in poverty (half the children in Tennessee are on TennCare), and people with disabilities will be particularly hurt. Costs for insurance will significantly rise for those earning less than $60,000 while taxes will be significantly reduced for those earning more than $200,000. Nine rural hospitals in Tennessee have already been closed (second most to Texas) with another 61 now in danger of closure. Just today the Congressional Budget Office released a report that projects that if adopted the Senate Bill will lead to 22 million fewer people being insured.

As there may be a floor vote on this bill as soon as Thursday of this week it is important that we each jump to action and speak up loudly to let our Senators know that, for a horde of moral and economic reasons, this picture is not one we can accept. Your phone calls and emails could make an important difference. Whether this is your first time calling or you have called many times before, please call again now … and then call every day until the bill hits the Senate floor.

While calls are the most effective … please consider emailing as well, placing in the subject line “Please vote NO for the BCRA.” Frame your phone calls and emails in anyway reflective of how you feel … but please call and email. Begin your calls and place in the subject line of your emails a simple request: “Please vote NO for the BCRA.” A sample message of explanation could be as simple as: “I’m a constituent and I want Senator __ to reject the proposed Senate health care repeal bill. It will take health coverage away from millions of people, drastically cut Medicaid, hurt children and their families, seniors, and people with disabilities while it shifts billions into tax cuts for the wealthy. Please vote NO.”

In advance, thank you for jumping into action. The contact information for our Senators follows.

– The NJSJR Steering Committee

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office: (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office: (615) 736-5129

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office: (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office: (615) 279-8125

NJSJR June Newsletter

Oy vey!!! It seems like most mornings we wake these days we are greeted by something else from which to be aghast. The menu of what we are concerned about seems to expand daily as we are greeted by policy decisions that upset us. This leaves us feeling a need to act but frustrated that our options to do so seem limited.

However, there is one tool we can and should always fall back on … that being the use of our voice. At our last NJSJR Steering Committee we began looking at our achievements over the past two years, analyzing strategies to propel us forward and began prioritizing which concerns we want to attend to among so many. We ended up circling around five issues, among so many to address, to concentrate on during the months ahead and are calling on our membership to consider doing the same.

Resolutions of these concerns lie largely in the hands of our Congress, particularly the U.S. Senate and our responsibility to let our policy makers know how we feel. To this end we encourage you to raise your voice on one or more of the following issues … through telephone calls to our Senate offices, hand-written notes (they seem to have the greatest impact), and phone calls during this month and next. Making appointments to share your concerns with local staff is also impactful. All contacts are tallied by category … whichever you choose will be helpful.

Sen. Lamar Alexander  https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email

Washington Office
United States Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4944

Nashville Office
3322 West End Avenue, #120
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 736-5129

Sen. Bob Corker

Washington Office
United States Senate
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3344

Nashville Office
3322 West End Ave., Suite 610
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-279-8125

The following issues, among so many, are the issues the Steering Committee recommends focusing on at this time include the following:

The budget proposed by the Administration will add billions to defense while slashing programs that help working families and the poor. It includes large tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations at the expense of those who need assistance. The proposed budget includes dramatic cuts in affordable housing, aid for college students, slashes Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income, cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency, and countless other reductions. We recommend calling on our Senators to guard against adopting a budget that will reduce the safety net so many Americans rely on.

Health Care
The Congressional Budget Office’s independent review of the American Health Care Act adopted by the House concluded that the changes proposed in the bill would lead to 24 million fewer people having health insurance, remove existing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, slash hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid, and increase the cost of health insurance for seniors, people with disabilities, and vast numbers of Americans. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate. Senator Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, will carry considerable weight in crafting the Senate’s response to the House bill. We need to let both of our Senators know that we do not want them to gut current health care, just improve those pieces that warrant strengthening.

The proposed budget includes a huge bump (nearly $5B) for immigration enforcement. It is clear that, despite the positive impacts of immigrants on our economy and society, the tenor of national immigration policy is moving to be far more restrictionist through increased immigration enforcement, reduced refugee resettlement, and fast-paced detention and deportation practices. We urge opposition against this more restrictive movement.

Criminal Justice and Civil Rights
At a time when Americans are increasingly becoming concerned about a broken criminal justice system that unequally treats people in poverty and people of color, Attorney General Sessions is moving to increasing penalties and enforcement, rather than a path to restorative justice and needed fairness. Civil Rights departments throughout government are being downgraded which will limit Federal emphasis on civil rights enforcement.

Climate Change
With the announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord … a landmark agreement signed by 195 countries to mitigate climate change … our country has taken a dramatic step backwards. Congressman Cooper stood strong in his critical response to this decision. We need to do so as well by letting both Senators Corker and Alexander know that we consider leaving the coalition of nations to be a poor decision … and strongly support legislatures, governors, and mayors who recognize that, for both environmental and economic reasons, we must continue to hold firm in support of aggressive actions aimed at gaining control of our deteriorating environment.

One of the tools we have at our disposal is the power of the pen. Writing letters and publishing op-eds can be a powerful way to be heard and we encourage our membership to lift their pens.

An example of this is this powerful piece written for The Observer by one of our Roundtable members Heidi Addlestone about an issue she is passionate about. We are sharing her piece with you just as an example of the power of the pen and applaud Heidi for publicly expressing herself.

On the local front … we wanted to call your attention to two ordinances being placed before our City Council for adoption. Bills filed by Council members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge, with the support of Vice-Mayor Briley and co-signed by 14 Council members, will come up for the first of three readings on Tuesday, June 6. These ordinances were developed in conjunction with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). One ordinance prohibits the use of Metro resources, facilities, or money to carry out federal immigration enforcement unless required by judicial warrant. The other bars our Sheriff’s Office from honoring voluntary requests from Immigration Customs Enforcement to hold inmates for longer than the law would otherwise allow unless presented with a warrant.

The Roundtable stands firmly in support of both ordinances and in the weeks ahead may call on you to raise you voice in doing the same. TIRRC is organizing a community forum to help educate the public on both of these proposed ordinances and to gather communal support for them. This forum will take place on June 12 at 6:30pm at Glendale Baptist Church. For more information on this forum or these two proposed ordinances contact TIRRC Community Relations Manager Leah Hashinger at Leah@tnimmigrant.org. If you would like to register your voice with our City Council in support of these bills, here’s a link to do so …

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

Local and National Social Justice Organizations and Resources

The NJSJR often links with local and national organizations to activate our agenda. Members of the Jewish Community and our Roundtable often ask us how they can best volunteer and devote their time, possibly their resources. We recommend directly contacting any of these organizations listed … to sign up for their newsletters and reports and/or to volunteer or lend financial support. This list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive and will be expanded and edited over time.


Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) – jewishpublicaffairs.org
JCPA’s mission is to advance the interests of the Jewish people, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and promote a just American society and world.

Bend the Arc – www.bendthearc.us
Bend the Arc engages people and communities throughout the United States in creating economic opportunity and promoting social justice.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) – www.hias.org
HIAS is he oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the U.S. It provides direct services to immigrants and refugees and advocates for improved immigration and refugee related public policy.

Religious Action Center (RAC) – www.rac.org
RAC educates and mobilizes the Reform Jewish community on legislative and social concerns as well as advocate on issues centered on economic justice, civil rights, and religious liberty.

National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW) – www.ncjw.org
Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

Center of American Progress – www.americanprogress.org
The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization.

Mazon/Jewish Response to Hunger – mazon.org
MAZON is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel.

American Jewish World Service – ajws.org
A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing nonsectarian humanitarian assistance and emergency relief to disadvantaged people worldwide.

TRUAH: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights – truah.org
Truah is multi-denominational network of rabbis and Jewish communities to protect human rights in North America and Israel.

Southern Poverty Law Center – https://www.splcenter.org
SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice, through litigation, education, and advocacy, for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Anti-Defamation League – https://www.adl.org
One of the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agencies, the ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.


(This list, in part, reflects recommendations compiled by Rabbi Mackler and Amy Eskind for members of The Temple)

A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty in Nashville – nashvillevoice.net
A VOICE is an alliance of Nashvillians interested in creating and articulating a collective communal voice that will encourage elected officials and other public-policy makers to strengthen and increase their commitment to provide substantive economic relief for the most vulnerable among us.

Coalition for Education About Immigration (CEI) – aviposter4@gmail.com
A coalition of Nashville justice organizations and individuals committed to immigration reform and improved public policies

Clergy for Tolerance (CFT) – aviposter4@gmail.com
A coalition of Middle Tennessee Clergy devoted to welcoming the stranger into our community and, through direct service and the adoption of public policy, promoting conditions in which they can thrive

Metro Human Relations Commission – http://www.nashville.gov/Human-Relations-Commission.aspx
The mission of the Metro Human Relations Commission is to protect and promote the personal dignity, peace, safety, security, health, and general welfare of all people in Nashville and Davidson County.

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition – www.tnimmigrant.org
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state.

The League of Women Voters – lwv.org
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan citizens’ organization that works to improve our government and engage all citizens in the legislative decisions that impact their lives.

The YWCA – www.ywcanashville.com
YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

TN-ACLU – www.aclu-tn.org
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) is dedicated to translating the guarantees of the Bill of Rights into reality for all Tennesseans by serving as a guardian of justice, freedom, and fairness and equality. It is devoted to protecting and advancing civil liberties and civil rights for all Tennesseans.

Community Nashville – www.communitynashville.org
A volunteer organization, CommunityNashville is committed to outreach and advocacy work focused on serving as a convener on issues of human rights. It’s renown Building Bridges Program educates students on issues related to tolerance, bigotry, and acceptance.

Family of Abraham – www.facebook.com/FamilyOfAbraham
Family of Abraham seeks to build inter-faith understanding and to advance relationships among all people. It is dedicated to accepting the difference among preserving and protecting religious liberty and us.

Project Return – www.projectreturninc.org
Project Return provides an eclectic array of services to people exiting from incarceration connecting them to the resources needed to return successfully to work and community.

NOAH (Nashville Organized for Action and Hope) – www.noahtn.org
Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) is a faith led coalition of congregations, community organizations, and labor unions that work to give voice to traditionally marginalized people. NOAH engages ordinary people in the political and economic decisions affecting their lives.

Community Relations Committee of the Nashville Jewish Federation – www.jewishnashville.org
The mission of the CRC of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, in partnership with its affiliate the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, is to advocate for Jewish interests and values, dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the State of Israel, and foster constructive relationships within the Jewish community and among people of all faiths and cultures in order to promote a just, democratic and pluralistic American society.

Conexion Americas – http://www.conexionamericas.org
At Conexión Américas, our mission is to build a welcoming community and create opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute and succeed.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee – http://www.cctenn.org
Advocates for and provides services which enhance and enrich the quality of life for people in need.

Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee – https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-middle-east-tennessee
Provides comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services and advocates for public policies, which guarantee these, rights and ensure access to such services.

Open Table – http://opentablenashville.org
Open Table Nashville is a non-profit, interfaith community that disrupts cycles of poverty, journeys with the marginalized and provides education about issues of homelessness.

Nashville Rescue Mission – https://nashvillerescuemission.org
Nashville Rescue Mission is a Christian-centered community dedicated to providing a variety of supports to the homeless and hungry in our community.

Room in the Inn – http://roomintheinn.org
Provides programs and housing to the homeless that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help and work, centered in community and long term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home.

Nashville Food Project – http://www.thenashvillefoodproject.org
Brings people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food, with the goals of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.

Jewish Family Service – http://jfsnashville.org
Provides a variety of social and support services to individuals and families going through significant transitions in life.

Oasis Center – http://www.oasiscenter.org/moretoyouth
A nationally recognized organization whose mission it is to help people, through a wide array of programing, move through the difficult stages of childhood and adolescence towards a productive adulthood.

Nashville Cares – http://www.nashvillecares.org
Serves people at risk of having HIV/AIDS through a variety of programs … including education, advocacy and support.

NJSJR Presents “Gun Sense: Options and Choices”

Thursday, March 30, 2017 – 7:00pm
West End Synagogue
3810 West End Avenue, Nashville

The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable (NJSJR) is presenting a forum to give a full background to the history and laws surrounding guns in America and the public health issues involved. “Gun Sense: Options and Choices” will feature two knowledgeable speakers, Beth Joslin Roth, Executive Director and Policy Director/Safe Tennessee Project, and Laurie Woods, Lecturer in Sociology at Vanderbilt University, who have unique experiences on this critical topic. This forum will explain why there is more to the issue of guns than hunting and self-protection. The speakers will be open to questions from the audience. The objective is to have attendees leave with a greater understanding of this much-debated topic.

This community-wide event is open to all in the Nashville area. Please feel encouraged to bring others with you. For information, contact Robb McCluskey at robbmccluskey@gmail.com or Judy Saks at mountvu@att.net.

NJSJR March Newsletter

As do our Roundtable members, the NJSJR leadership team awakens each morning only to be greeted by yet another social dilemma birthed in the wake of decisions made in Washington. While these decisions too frequently cause us to gasp and reel in alarm, we must not allow them to disable us … rather must rebound quickly by raising our collective voices in loud concern. While there is much we can respond to, this month we are circling around three national issues. In the days immediately ahead we encourage you to contact both Senator Alexander and Senator Corker, and your member of Congress, to express your feelings about each.

Sen. Lamar Alexander
3322 West End Avenue, Suite #120, Nashville, TN 37203
EMAIL: https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email

Sen. Bob Corker
3322 West End Avenue, Suite #610, Nashville, TN 37203
EMAIL: https://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/emailme

Congressman Jim Cooper
605 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219
EMAIL: http://cooper.house.gov/contact

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
305 Public Square, Suite 212, Franklin, TN 37064
EMAIL: https://blackburn.house.gov/contact


Although the President promised during his run for the presidency that he was going to fight for those who were left behind, the budget proposal released this week is evidence of the opposite. The proposed budget increases military spending by 10 percent (even though U.S. military expenditures already exceed the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined) and includes substantial corporate tax cuts (even though U.S corporate profits are a higher than they’ve been since 1947). Funding to cover both of these proposed budgetary cornerstones will come from cutting billions of dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency, which would strip the EPA of its capacity to enforce environmental laws and regulations at a time when climate change threatens the future of the planet. It will also come from de-funding NEA, Public Broadcasting, HUD, Planned Parenthood, and a cache of safety net programs including food stamps, housing, and Medicaid (at a time when the U.S. has the highest poverty rate among all advanced nations, including more than 1 in 5 American children). We realize that this is only the first step in the budgetary process, but with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate these priorities have a good chance of being enacted which is why we have to raise our voices now. Please contact our two Senators and your Congressman and share your feelings about the proposed budget.


House Republican leaders unveiled legislation this past week called the “American Health Care Act” that is designed to not just repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act but dismantle Medicaid as well. The proposed legislation severely cuts insurance subsidies for those on low-income, erodes valued health benefits, and devastates Medicaid (which in Tennessee covers half of our state’s children and pregnant women), while it dramatically increases healthcare subsidies for those better off, including the very wealthy. The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded this week that the new GOP plan would push 24 million people out of healthcare in the next decade. While we are hearing glimmers of concerns even from the right, both of our Senators have gone on record as saying this proposed health plan is a good start. Please contact both to let them know you disagree. Here are some talking points:

  • Before the ACA, there were 41 million uninsured Americans. The ACA shrunk that number to 28 million. The recently-proposed GOP Health Plan will increase that number to 52 million in less than a decade.
  • The GOP Health Plan disproportionately benefits the wealthy and healthy at the expense of those who are low-income and sick. It makes coverage less accessible and affordable.
  • The GOP Health Plan increases out-of-pocket costs while eliminating many of the ACA’s benefits and consumer protections.
  • The GOP Health Plan makes deep cuts to Medicaid and will cap federal funding for the program, which will result in reduced access to coverage and benefits. This will cause harm to millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children. In Tennessee, half of our state’s children, half of our state’s pregnant women, and over 60% of our nursing home residents are on TennCare, our state’s Medicaid program.


On March 6, the President signed a revised executive order again barring the resettlement of refugees for 120 days, banning the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, unnecessarily calling for extreme vetting, and lowering the number of refugees allowed into the United States from 110,000 to 50,000—the lowest since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. Fortunately, this week a federal judge in Maryland temporarily blocked parts of President Trump’s revised travel order. Hours earlier, a federal judge in Hawaii placed a nationwide block on the President’s ban, delivering a major blow to his policy just hours before it was set to go into effect. Both judges concluded that the President’s travel ban was designed to discriminate against Muslims and pointed to his own comments to defend their ruling. Meanwhile in Nashville, the President declared this second round of rejection to be judicial overreach and pledged to fight these decisions all the way to the Supreme Court. Please share your concerns and outrage about the President’s pledge to close our doors to refugees with our Congressional delegation. Here are some talking points:

  • Depriving refugees of a safe-haven turns vulnerable human beings into scapegoats and does nothing to make us safer.
  • With over 65 million refugees and displaced people fleeing persecution around the world, the refugee crisis is larger than at any point in human history. The United States must respond with urgency and compassion, something we can do while simultaneously maintaining the highest levels of security for our country. It is not an either/or situation.
  • Jews have a history of fleeing violence and persecution. Like contemporary refugees, we became part of the fabric of this country. Guided by this history and the Jewish value of “welcoming the stranger” we urge our elected officials to use their influence to keep America’s door open to refugees and to continue to welcome into our community families fleeing persecution.

Thank you for taking action and using your voice.

One last note… our next Roundtable event will be an open to the public forum on gun safety to be held later this month. More information will be forthcoming.

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 detailed information will be forthcoming.

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.

Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable January Membership Meeting    

NJSJR January Membership Meeting    

January 19, 2017 – West End Synagogue – 7:00pm

The Inside Scoop:  What to Expect in the 2017 Legislative Sessions

Please join us for our January NJSJR Membership Meeting to learn about what to expect in the upcoming national and state legislative season.  To help us plan for our work ahead in the New Year, we invited three well-known Nashville political stalwarts to share with us what they expect will be the social justice issues and legislation we will want to raise our collective voice around.  Each has been asked to speak specifically about issues they believe will be on the upcoming legislative agenda and strategize with us about how best we can use our influence to influence them.

Lisa Quigley, Congressman Jim Cooper’s Chief of Staff (the Congressman will also join us if he is not in D.C.):  For the past ten years, Lisa has served Congressman Cooper as his top policy and political advisor.  Commuting weekly to Washington, D.C., she manages a staff of 20.  A 25-year veteran of Capitol Hill, Lisa has worked with other Members of Congress under five Presidents, including former California Congressman Cal Dooley and Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the current Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.  Lisa is recognized as the Dean of Capital Hill Chiefs of Staffs.  She is an expert on both national and state legislative issues.

State Senator Jeff Yarbro:  A native-born Tennessean and Harvard Law graduate, Jeff has long served the Nashville Community.  As head of Bass, Barry, and Sims’ pro-bono program, Jeff devotes a large portion of his law practice to clients who otherwise could not afford legal representation.  An advocate of public education, he served as Mayor Karl Dean’s Education policy adviser.  Jeff has also served such organizations as The Red Cross, PENCIL, Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Conexion Americas.  Jeff currently serves as District #21 State Senator.  He has fearlessly led the fight for a variety of important social issues including tuition equality, health reform, affordable housing, education funding, and women’s rights.

State Representative John Ray Clemmons:  John Ray was elected to represent District 55 in the 109th Session of the Tennessee General Assembly and was reelected to serve in the 110th Session.  Outside of the Capitol and his law office, John Ray actively serves our community as chairman of the advisory board for Nashville RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities), as a steering committee member of the Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors, Inc., and on the board of directors of Friends of Sevier Park, Inc., a non-profit he co-founded.  Previously, John Ray served on the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners as an appointee of Mayor Karl Dean, and the Tennessee Civil Service Commission, as an appointee of Governor Phil Bredesen.  John Ray has built a reputation for his relentless, courageous progressive platform aimed at helping those most in need, championing healthcare and women’s and children’s rights in particular.

In addition to hearing from our guests, members of our NJSJR leadership will help frame the action steps that we hope to adopt.  Please join us and bring others you know in the Jewish community who share your concerns.  Feel free to share this invite with others and encourage them to attend.                                                                             

Forward questions and comments to us at jsjrnashville@gmail.com                     

Please encourage friends in the Jewish community to join the NJSJR at www.JSJRnashville.org