The JCA Tikkun Olam/ Social Justice Committee studies and analyzes local, state, national and international issues and concerns in relation to principles of Judaism; sensitizes the community to the moral and ethical implications of these issues and concerns; and plans and organizes, in conjunction with the rabbi, meetings and events relating to these issues. Contact: Judith Souweine at email@example.com.
Human Rights Shabbat
On Human Rights Shabbat at the JCA on December 9, 2017, we were pleased to invite Rev. Vicki Kemper of First Church Amherst to offer the sermon during morning services. We greatly appreciated her words which you may read here.
JCA Community Action Now!
In January 2017, with the national political climate changing rapidly, many questions and issues arose that affected JCA members and the larger regional and national community. Through the coordination of new volunteers and the Tikkun Olam and Adult Education Committees, it was felt that the JCA needed to find its voice on issues of social justice and have a presence. Being a loving and compassionate community deeply based in Jewish values and practices, it was time for us to put these feelings into action in a sustained way.
Rabbi Benjamin Weiner encouraged us to advocate for a compassionate and inclusive social fabric by making our voices heard, showing up, and building relationships. After a number of well-attended community meetings, we formed JCA CAN! (JCA Community Action Now) to address issues of social justice under the umbrella of the Tikkun Olam Committee. The leadership of JCA CAN! includes Tom Wolff at firstname.lastname@example.org, Judith Souweine, Barbara Burkart and Karen Levine.
Accomplishments To Date
- JCA CAN! Work Groups have formed on Freedom of the Press, Health Care, Immigration/Sanctuary, Interfaith Outreach and Coordination, and Mid-term Elections, with Social Fabric – Supporting the Most Vulnerable and Climate pending
- Holyoke March for Racial Justice the day after Yom Kippur 2017 attracted 50-60 JCA members who marched behind the JCA banner
- Protocol for taking public stances on moral issues has been developed and adopted by the JCA Board of Directors, as well as the addition of the phrase Tikkun Olam to the formal mission of the JCA
JCA CAN! Work Groups
Freedom of the Press focuses on critical free access to the press when these freedoms are being challenged. This group is planning a session at the JCA in March 2018. Contact: Kitty Axelson-Berry at email@example.com.
Health Care Working Group formed in February 2017 to create a vehicle for collective action by JCA members on issues of health equity. Its primary focus is to advocate for passage of Improved Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Equal access to affordable and skilled health care is an issue of economic and social justice, and committee members have committed to staying engaged until this is passed in the commonwealth. The committee’s inaugural event was a presentation entitled, “Seeking Justice in Health Care: A Forum on Medicare for All.” Four presenters addressed both the possibility and necessity of moving towards universal health care. The committee will continue to plan both individual and collective events and actions working in coordination with other groups in the region and around the state. It is also expanding its membership beyond the confines of JCA members to become an area hub of activity. It is an active member of the Western Mass. Medicare for All coalition. Contact: Barbara Burkart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immigration/Sanctuary Committee focuses on supporting undocumented immigrants who, due to an increase in racially discriminatory immigration enforcement, are faced with detention and deportation. The committee represents the JCA in the Amherst Cluster of the Western Massachusetts Interfaith Sanctuary Network, which coordinates much of this work in the area. The committee hosted a well attended educational program at the JCA in October: “Our Vulnerable Immigrant Neighbors: An Overview of the Issues and Learning How Our Community Can Help.” The goal is to educate, empower the JCA community to volunteer where help is needed and to be a public Jewish presence in supporting immigration justice. The current focus of the committee is to coordinate JCA efforts in support of a neighboring congregation that is providing physical sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation and separation from his family, as well as supporting the Massachusetts Safe Communities Act legislation. The focus may expand to respond to other immigrant related needs as its capacity grows. Contact: Karen Levine at email@example.com.
Interfaith Outreach and Coordination plans to work in solidarity and coordinate our efforts with other Amherst area faith communities in actions involving social justice. Contact: Amy Anaya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mid-term Elections has plans to become connected with Swing Left and/or Sister District in the spring of 2018. We will work together to help progressive candidates for Congress. Contact: Judith Souweine at email@example.com.