A Call to the Reform Jewish Community: Take Action Through Our Racial Justice Campaign

April 28, 2021Melissa Bendell

The launch of the Reform Movement’s Racial Justice Campaign comes at a critical and urgent moment. The racial reckoning rooted in 400 years of oppression and dehumanization that emerged during the tragic events of summer 2020 revealed with clarity the reality that many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) experience every day: that systemic racism is intertwined in every aspect of North American life.  

Our Racial Justice Campaign commits the Reform Jewish community to engage in this important work, both within our communities and ourselves, and statewide, nationwide, and in Canada. We cannot do this work alone. Together, we can bring the collective power of the Jewish community together to advocate for legislation and policy changes and commit to the internal antiracist work on both the community and individual levels. 

If you missed the launch of this campaign, you can view the recording (captioning will be added soon).

Below are opportunities to take action as an individual and with your congregation or community to advance racial justice: 

Engage in essential Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REDI) work internally and in your community:

  1. Foundational Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Training on May 20, from 8-9:30 p.m. ET. This is the first session in the 3-part REDI series, focused on helping participants to start building stronger communities and transform the ways in which our institutions create meaningful Jewish experiences for people of all backgrounds. 

  1. 3-Part REDI Series for Everyone Participating in the Racial Justice Campaign on May 20, May 27, and June 3. The last two sessions are to create different spaces for People of Color and white people to discuss how white people benefit from the systems we are trying to dismantle and create a place for People of Color to build a Kehilla Kedosha, a space for leaders. 

  1. 4-Part Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Community Training Series on July 28, August 4, August 11, and August 18. This series will teach you how to create a DEI Working Group focused on utilizing the Congregational Assessment, so that you can identify both short and long term goals and establish action plans towards creating an inclusive community for individuals and families from a wide range of backgrounds. 

Take action at the federal level to ensure the Freedom to Vote: 

  1. John Lewis Day of Action Votercade on May 8, from 2-4 p.m. ET. Join over 100 events in cities across the nation calling on Congress to pass the For the People Act (S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4). John Lewis ‘Good Trouble’ Votercades have proven successful in inspiring awareness among young voters, in Communities of Color, and other disproportionately impacted communities across the United States. 

  1. Freedom to Vote and Lobbying Training on June 10, at 8 p.m. ET. During this training, you will learn more about deliberate barriers to voting, two federal bills that protect the right to vote, what Reform congregations and communities can do to help pass these bills, and how to effectively lobby your U.S. senators. 

  1. Contact your members of Congress  

Take action for racial justice at the state level with your RAC state project:

  1. Attend RAC-CA's statewide campaign kickoff on May 5 at 7 p.m. PT to learn how to fight for racial justice through criminal justice reform and labor rights in California.

  2. Join the efforts to help shape the direction of RAC-FL in 2021-2022

  3. Act with RAC-IL’s two campaigns focused on racial and immigrant justice

  1. Attend RAC-NJ's issue campaign kickoff on May 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET to learn concrete ways in which to be a voice for racial and economic justice in the Garden State.  

  1. Call your New York state senator, assembly member and the governor and urge them to support the Less Is More parole reform bill.  

  1. Check in on RAC-OH's issue selection process to determine its focus in its Racial Justice Campaign. 

  1. Attend RAC-PA's state issue campaign kickoff on May 4 at 6 p.m. ET to learn about the potential campaigns RAC-PA may join in 2021.  

  1. Attend the RAC-TX Democracy Protection Campaign: Closing Assembly on June 3 at 6 p.m. CT.  

Commit to reforming Canada’s mandatory minimum penalties that disproportionately impact Black and Indigenous communities.  

Mandatory minimums apply to a range of offences and the number of mandatory minimum penalties under federal law was seven times larger in 2020 than it was in 1995. Yet studies show that while such penalties do not meaningfully deter crime, they have clearly coincided with an increase in the imprisonment of Black and Indigenous Canadians. 

Federal bill C-22 would repeal mandatory minimum penalties for some firearm offences and drug crimes. For those who do not pose a threat to the community, the proposed law would also make greater use of conditional sentences, counseling, and treatment, all of which include accountability while allowing the individual to maintain ties to communal support networks.  While not perfect, the bill is a step in the right direction toward addressing the racial injustices inherent within mandatory minimum penalties.  

Stay tuned for opportunities to lift your voice in support of reforms to mandatory minimums in Canada.  

Learn more about the Racial Justice Campaign and subscribe to our Racial Justice Campaign email list to be the first to know about updates and ways to take action.  

Related Posts