At the end of 2020, a team of 20+ congregational leaders formed a Research Team to meet with state elected officials and partner organizations to explore potential issues for our 2021 legislative campaign. It was clear that one piece of legislation was aligned with our issue selection criteria, a priority of coalition partners, and spoke to our Reform Jewish values: opposing HB1/SB484, the anti-protest bill.
This bill was intended to chill free speech and peaceful assembly. It was introduced in response to protests for racial justice and will threaten the ability of Floridians to take part in speaking out for the issues that matter to us. RAC-FL has a history of taking action on issues including voting rights, racial justice, immigration reform, and gun violence prevention and the anti-protest bill is a threat to our ability to peacefully create change and express dissent as Americans and as Jews. As Jews, protest in relationship with those who suffer injustice in any form is a religious obligation and as it is stated in Leviticus, we will not stand idly by… Our moral and ethical teachings will not permit it.
Following our March campaign launch, Reform Jews across Florida worked to oppose this legislation by educating their congregations and communities about this issue through house meetings, contacting their legislators, and meeting with legislators across the state. We are engaged in this work in partnership with Faith in Florida to amplify faith voices around this issue.
RAC-FL’s 2021 Legislative Campaign: Protecting the Right of Public Protest, recently concluded following the passage of HB1 (the anti-protest bill), which was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis on April 19, 2021. RAC-FL organized as part of a broad coalition that fought to oppose the anti-protest bill on the grounds of protecting free speech and peaceful assembly. Our opposition to this bill was deeply rooted in our Reform Jewish values and tradition and our ongoing commitment to racial justice. As part of this campaign we engaged nearly 300 Florida Reform Jews in a strategy to put pressure on our legislators and join with our partners to push back on a deeply troubling bill. Even though we were not successful in stopping the anti-protest bill, our presence in the fight for a more just Florida is now more important than ever.
Stay tuned for more opportunities to take action with RAC-FL and engage your congregation and community in statewide social justice efforts. Stay up-to-date on ways to take action with RAC-FL, visit the RAC-FL group in the Tent, the URJ’s online platform for communication and collaboration. If you need assistance with joining or logging into the Tent, email email@example.com.