Learn & Take Action on Issues of Justice this Election Season

Abby Levine

Jews across the country are learning and taking action around issues of justice this election season, in an explicitly Jewish context. Read on for the opportunities to learn, discuss and take action, in your city! 

"Rabbi Tarfon and the Elders were once reclining in the upper story of Nithza’s house, in Lod, when this question was posed to them: Which is greater, study or action? Rabbi Tarfon answered, saying: Action is greater. Rabbi Akiva answered, saying: Study is greater. All the rest agreed with Akiva that study is greater than action because it leads to action." (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 40b)

San Francisco Area, CA

  • A Jewish social justice California voter guide on ballot measures (Bend the Arc) 
  • Discussions on progressive taxation (Prop 55) or criminal justice reform to increase parole eligibility for adults and allows judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults (Prop 57). The discussions could be facilitated by teens (Jewish Youth for Community Action), rabbis (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism - RAC) or Jewish activists (Bend the Arc
  • Take Action: ongoing phone banks and canvassing opportunities for Jews to support Propositions 55 (progressive taxation) and 57 (sentencing reform) 

Los Angeles, CA

  • A Jewish social justice California voter guide on ballot measures (Bend the Arc) 
  • Discussions on sentencing reform and other ballot measures. The discussions could be facilitated by rabbis (RAC) or Jewish activists (Bend the Arc; or with a feminist perspective, National Council of Jewish Women - NCJW)
  • Take Action: ongoing phone banks and canvassing opportunities for Jews to support Propositions 55 (progressive taxation) and 57 (criminal justice) 
  • Take Action: Voter outreach at high schools and colleges; events on ballot initiatives in Long Beach, LA and Orange County with the League of Women Voters (NCJW)

Detroit, MI

  • Discussion on regional transit justice (Detroit Jews for Justice) or reproductive justice (NCJW)
  • Take action: Mobilize Jewish support for Vote YES for Regional Transit to help seniors, people with disabilities, the unemployed, employers and students, who struggle everyday to get where they need to go. (Detroit Jews for Justice)

Chicago, IL

  • Discussion on domestic workers’ rights or affordable housing (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs)
  • October 15 Discussion of Social Justice and Social Media: the Immigration and Gun Debate (NCJW)
  • Take Action: Register voters and get out the vote in partnership with Chicago Votes and One Northside (JCUA)

Twin Cities, MN

  • Discussion of criminal justice issues, including sentencing reform, ending construction of new prisons, mental health support (Jewish Community Action) and voting rights (NCJW)
  • Candidate forums for state house and senate (JCA, NCJW) 
  • Take action: support candidate forums for state house and senate and get out the vote work in late October and early November, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, Every Child Matters and Minnesota Voice.

Boston, MA

Washington, DC area

  • Discussion of fighting poverty, including minimum wage, affordable housing and paid family leave. Take action: oppose a ballot measure in Montgomery County, MD to term limit County officials (Jews United for Justice)

New York, NY

  • Discussion of police reform and accountability; paid family leave; $15 minimum wage; a caring economy that works for domestic workers and those receiving care; organizing against racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; Jews of Color in leadership. October 19 Sukkot event in Brooklyn and October 20 Sukkot event on the Upper West Side (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice)

Cleveland & Columbus, OH - and Atlanta, GA

  • Take action: Mobilize Jews to travel to Ohio and Georgia on Election Day to be a non-partisan poll monitor (Religious Action Center)

South Florida

  • Discussion of justice issues, using a voter education palm card (NCJW, in partnership with League of Women Voters)

New Orleans, LA

  • Discussion of voter suppression in Louisiana with Jewish justice participants and alumni in their 20s and 30s (Avodah)
  • Discussion of “Why Courts Matter to the Elections” – particularly around the Supreme Court, voter registration (NCJW)
  • Take action: make phone calls to get out the vote in early November, and distribute GOTV graphics on social media  (NCJW)
  • Take action: get out the vote with Avodah participants and alumni the weekend of November 4-6, 2016

St. Louis, MO

  • Discussion of “Why Courts Matter to the Elections” – particularly around the Supreme Court (NCJW)
  • “Why Courts Matter in the Election – You Be the Judge” event, discussing the Missouri voter ID ballot measure (NCJW and JCRC)

North Carolina

Denver, CO

  • Candidate forum on October 10 (NCJW) 

Seattle, WA

  • October 20 "Voting and Vino" discussion (NCJW and Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Synagogues and individuals across the country can sign up to join Nitzvaim with the Religious Action Center to protect and get out the vote, in partnership with PICO, the NAACP and using their Get Out the Vote Guide 2016.

What does Shabbat have to do with voting? Use these Election Shabbat resources from Repair the World and OneTable.

Share this wonderful video from young people about why voting matters (NCJW California)

Issues: