Social Justice Committee

 

“...morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Social Justice Committee increases awareness of social justice issues through book discussions and programming, advocates for social justice through written statements and lobbying government representatives, and supports the work of the Social Action and other KI committees helping people in need. 

Awareness

During the past two years committee members have led discussions for KI members and the larger community on the following books:

  •      ● One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson – explores of the history of voter suppression in the U.S.
  •      ● Evicted by Matthew Desmond – focuses on eviction and homelessness and transforms the understanding of poverty and economic exploitation 
  •      ● “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” and Other Myths About Guns and Gun Control by Dennis A. Henigan – exposes how gun advocates use myths and slogans to maintain control of the gun debate in America
  •      ● There Shall Be No Needy by Rabbi Jill Jacobs – frames social justice work within the context of Jewish tradition and Jewish law
  •      ● Antisemitism Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt – examines the state of antisemitism throughout American society
  •      ● Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – provides a personal critique of mass incarceration and cruel punishment in America by the founder of the Equal Justice initiative

 

In January 2020 the committee hosted KI’s first MLK Day of Learning with the theme of “On Becoming Beloved Community,” a concept Dr. Martin Luther King began publicly advocating in 1956. King believed that “love was the pathway that would literally bring about social justice and the establishment of the Beloved Community.” A panel of 13 speakers, including Rabbi Gary Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives at Hebrew Union College and KI Senior Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, reflected on King’s work and writings. Participants engaged in table discussions about how the presentations helped them to think about Jewish values of: B’tzelem Elohim (In God’s Image), Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof (Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue), Gemilut Hasaddim, (Acts of Loving Kindness), and Tikkun Olam, (Repair of the World).

Advocacy

The committee has created and supported statements about important social justice issues: 

Resolution of the KI Social Justice Policy Task Force On the Immigration Travel Ban, February 16, 2017 

Resolution of the KI Social Justice Policy Task Force Regarding the January 27, 2017 Statement by President Donald Trump on International Holocaust Day, March 9, 2017

Resolution of the KI Social Justice Policy Task Force To Condemn Anti-Semitism and Hate Crimes, March 9, 2017 

Resolution of the KI Social Justice Policy Task Force Statement following Events in Charlottesville, Virginia August 17, 2017 

A Call for Action in Response to the Murder of George Floyd, June 1, 2020

Board of Rabbis Statement on Pursuing Racial Justice, June 5, 2020

A Letter to Montgomery County Commissioners regarding the Press Statement of Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Gale, June 8, 2020

Echoes of the 1960s: A Sermon by Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, July 2, 2020

A Decalogue of Decency, July 10, 2020

 

Action

The Social Justice Committee signed on to the Religious Action Center’s 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign: Every Voice, Every Vote to reach 100 percent voter turnout within Reform Jewish communities and overcome voter suppression nationwide in the 2020 election cycle. Members of the KI community will be asked to Take the Pledge to register and to vote in November and to support organized Get Out the Vote efforts.

Committee members have joined with the Eastern MontCo Inter-Faith Coalition (EMIC) to engage in community based social justice efforts. Committee members have met with State Senator Art Haywood, and State Representative Ben Sanchez to talk about getting out the vote, how to educate people about the new law, Act 77, which enables Pennsylvania voters to vote by mail, as well as concerns regarding ballot security and vote counting. They also joined with people of faith, and members of Montgomery County congregations to express outrage and dismay upon reading the June 1, 2020 press statement disseminated by Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Gale. 

The KI Community is invited to join our committee. Email us at: socialjustice@kenesethisrael.org

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