NJSJR December Newsletter

As the year comes to an end we wanted to write this note of appreciation as well as share some upcoming plans.  To begin with, thank you for joining us as members of the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable to stand up for domestic social justice.  Given the outcome of our national elections and the impending start to the State’s legislation season we will certainly not be without opportunity to raise our collective voices.

Most importantly, we want to share our warmest wishes for a chag sameach – a Happy Hanukkah, and to wish you the happiest and healthiest of years ahead … filled with great strides in our working together to make our country and community more just for far more people.

There are a couple of important news items to note:

  1. First, please block off January 19th (7:00 at West End Synagogue) for our next Roundtable Membership Meeting. Given that we will be called to respond to a full plate of social issues we thought it important to anticipate what experts believe we will be called on to respond.  To this end we invited three extremely knowledgeable and courageous social stalwarts and political strategists to share with us what they envision will be on the forefront of issues in the months ahead.  Joining us will be:

Lisa Quigley, Congressman Cooper’s esteemed and long-serving Chief of Staff.  Lisa, currently in her third stint as a Congressional chief of staff, will give us insight into the current situation in DC, how Congress works, and what issues she believes we will need to address.  Congressman Cooper is slated to be in Washington but if plans change he will join us as well.

Senator Jeff Yarbro and State Representative John Ray Clemmons, who have both courageously led the fight, often uphill, for just issues.  Jeff and John form an impressive team.  In addition to helping us understand the direction the State legislature is headed in they will help us better understand how laws and policies get adopted in our state and how we best can use our voices to impact on the outcome.

PLEASE CIRCLE this date on your calendars and plan to join us!!!

  1. On December 6, the Metro Nashville Council passed without objection Resolution No. RS2016-486 in support of Native American opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The pipeline, which is routed through Native American treaty lands, including sacred sites, has also been slated to go under the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for the Standing Rock Reservation and others, raising the specter of contamination from leaks. Although the Army Corps of Engineers recently denied the final permit needed for this project, there are reports of continued drilling by Energy Transfer Partners, which also has initiated legal action to overturn the Corps’ permit denial.  Thus the struggle is far from over.  In its Resolution, the Metro Council noted the pipeline’s environmental dangers, the residency here of thousands of Native Americans, and the city’s legacy of activism. The Resolution encourages Nashvillians to support the Standing Rock Native Americans in their “efforts to stop the pipeline and to otherwise raise awareness of this struggle.” The NJSJR commends and supports this Resolution.  “For additional information on supportive action steps you can take contact Steering Committee member Kitty Calhoun at KCalhoon103@aol.com.
  1. The NJSJR Steering Committee, with advice from our membership, continues to develop justice platforms to guide our work ahead. New ones are regularly added.  They can be found on our blog at http://jsjrnashville.org/.
  1. Monday, January 16th is Martin Luther King Day. There are a number of events community members can participate in, both in and out of the Jewish community in which we encourage you to participate.  Please be alert to announcements forthcoming through a variety of media.
  1. On Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, an alternative event is being held in Nashville called the Silent Inauguration in large part to serve as a reminder that there is much just work ahead to do in light of the recent election. Participants will gather at the band shell in Centennial Part at 10:45am for the singing of our National Anthem and to recite our Pledge of Allegiance, followed at 11:00, the time the National Inauguration is slated to begin, by 15 minutes of silent contemplation.

That’s it for this month.  Please share this update with others you know and encourage them to join us at: www.JSJRnashville.org.  And once again, please accept our best wishes for a chag sameach and a happy and healthy year ahead.

Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and the NJSJR Steering Committee

NJSJR September Update


Dear NJSJR Members,

On behalf of the NJSJR Steering Committee … please accept our best wishes going into the High Holiday season. May Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur bring you an opportunity to reflect on the year past and prepare for what we hope will be a healthy and happy and healthy year ahead, filled with abundant joy and peace, for you and those you love. Shana Tovah.

We are very grateful to those of you who were able to join us at our July gathering. The turnout was impressive. A lot has been happening since we met. Our Steering Committee, using some of the suggestions we heard from you and our guest panelists, has continued to hone our statements on justice issues, consider upcoming events, and plan for future actions we can take before and after the November election.

Speaking of the November election, we don’t have to remind you of how important its outcome will be. If you haven’t registered to vote … you must do so on or before October 11 at (http://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission/Voters/Voting-Information/Voter-Registration.aspx). In the past Presidential election, only 58% of eligible voters went to the polls, a showing so poor that it places the United States near the bottom when compared with other developed nations (Israel, by the way, ranks near the top). We are all too familiar with attempts to suppress voter turnout, largely aimed at poor, young, minority and immigrant votes. It is critical that everyone register and vote.

Much has been happening on the local front:

The Metro Council recently adopted meaningful policies that hopefully will advance the creation of desperately needed affordable and workforce housing. While the actions taken were not as bold as we had hoped, nevertheless what was adopted is a positive first step that will hopefully lead to more aggressive steps in the future.

In addition, a bill to reduce the penalty of possession of a half-once of marijuana, sponsored by Bellevue Councilman Dave Rosenberg, has moved through two readings and will soon be up for a final vote. As Dawn Deaner of our Public Defenders Office noted, this ordinance is an important and smart step towards criminal justice reform and offers a common sense alternative to criminal prosecution that leads to lifelong consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

As NJSJR has positions on both affordable housing and criminal justice, members of our Steering Committee have been actively monitoring and engaged in this legislation.

Lastly, there are several events taking place in the weeks ahead that we wanted to alert you to and encourage your participation.

On Saturday, September 24, at approximately 11:00am, Rev. Judy Cummings will address social justice issues related to affordable housing, economic equity, and criminal justice during Shabbat services at West End Synagogue. Rev. Cummings is a dynamic speaker long in the trenches fighting for justice issues.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27th, SURJ Nashville will meet at 7:00 at the East End United Methodist Church (1212 Holy Street). SURJ Nashville is a chapter of the national Showing Up for Racial Justice network and is devoted to organizing white people for racial justice in Middle Tennessee through education, outreach, and mobilization.

On September 30 – October 1 there will be an Action Summit: Restoring Justice in our City. This conference will address mass incarceration and foster restorative justice. Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, will be the keynote speaker. This conference is open to the public and will take place at the Baptist Word Center (Baptist World Center, 1700 Baptist World Center Dr.). It is being jointly sponsored by American Baptist College, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Metro Human Relations Commission. For more information, call (615) 322-5844 or email ctp@vanderbilt.edu.

On October 6, 2016, The Temple will host a Candidates’ Forum for Sen. District 20 with Sen. Steve Dickerson and Erin Coleman. Please contact The Temple for more information.

The Temple/Vanderbilt University Holocaust Series, Moving from Indifference to Action, will take place October 15 – November 12. In addition to many outstanding speakers and programs at the Temple and on Vanderbilt Campus, a moving exhibit entitled Holocaust By Bullets will be on display at The Temple (5015 Harding Pike) throughout the series. For more detailed information visit: http://conta.cc/2abNThT.

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

Again, wishing you the most contemplative and peaceful High Holidays ahead … and a very Happy New Year.

Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and the NJSJR Steering Committee

July 21 Panel Event and Membership Meeting a Huge Success

A panel of three current and former Jewish Metro Council members told an audience of more than 40 people at the first Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable membership meeting on July 21 how their Jewish upbringing and values have affected their decisions as public servants.

Observer photo from NJSJR 7_21_16 meeting (2)

From left: Jim Shulman, Sheri Weiner and Ronnie Steine with Irwin Venick, moderator, also gave suggestions about how to be advocates with public officials on NJSJR issues and positions. Their advice: learn the issues that are before the council; attend public meetings; be a resource for council members; and get appointed to city boards and commissions. The meeting took place at West End Synagogue.  Anyone in the Jewish community interested in NJSJR can go to JSJRnashville.org to read the current position statements and join the group.