This summer people across all 50 states and the globe went to the streets, raising their voices and their fists to demand racial justice. The simmering heat of a robust BLM movement, on top of the unprecedented distress of the COVID-19 pandemic, brought society to a boiling point – further highlighting the stark racial inequities in our country.
Some are wondering “why now?,” after centuries of racial injustice.
Perhaps the pandemic has re-sensitized enough of us to a shared humanity and reconnected us to our interconnected vulnerability.
Perhaps we are each of us on our knees in a unique paradigm of struggle, social isolation, and political bitterness, and we can no longer tolerate the status quo.
Whatever the alchemy of the moment, let it be so. This season of upheaval is as much a call to elected leaders, as it is a call to each of us as individuals.
Now is the time to encounter our deep seated personal and Jewish values. Regardless of whether we are conscious of them or whether we honor them daily, Jewish traditions tell us to bind together in times of trouble. As Jews, it is our urgent imperative to eradicate white supremacy and the systems that uphold it. It is our responsibility to pursue justice for all and to leave the world better than we found it.
We are taught to constantly and critically re-examine the structures we exist within and to look beyond our own self interest and experience. We look to our history and emulate those figures from our past who were bold and courageous enough to build a better world, to seek a different path.
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action is a community of activists leaning on Jewish values and principles to inform our work and help us stand in solidarity with our coalition partners. We are putting our Jewish values into concrete action. In the criminal justice space, our values in action demand a change in the system that has been designed from the beginning to entrap Black Americans. Here’s what that has meant to us:
- In conjunction with our partners, we have campaigned for bail reform and mobilized to help pass Measure R, which created an oversight committee for the LA Sheriff's Department.
- We are a member of the People’s Budget LA coalition, which seeks to divest money from the LAPD and invest in communities, health care and services.
- We are calling for the release of incarcerated individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic so that time in custody is not a death sentence.
- And we are mobilizing to oppose CA state Proposition 20, a November 2020 ballot initiative that would roll back many key criminal justice reform advancements of recent years.
Whether we are most concerned about police brutality, mass incarceration, or other destructive elements of our legal system, we know that no single law or policy will bring about true justice. We know we must work steadily and continuously to envision and enact the critical social changes that align with our values.
We also know we need all hands on deck. And we need you. At this critical moment, we call in Jews across our state and our country who are moved to heed the pull of our ancient Jewish values and join this fight for justice.
Join us on August 13 at 6-7:30 pm for a Yes To Racial Justice, No on Prop 20 Call-In to build our education and energy and invite new members into the criminal justice reform momentum for real change. RSVP here.