Tikkun Olam Updates & Actions


We just learned that the MA legislative committee responded to the uproar about including wood-to-energy plants as clean energy. The climate bill they released yesterday (January 3, 2021) will secure environmental justice provisions that frontline communities have been fighting for year after year, including removing the word biomass in defining electricity that can count as non-carbon emitting. The bill includes many other important policies to help the state, municipalities, institutions, and individuals make the transition to a clean energy future. Please thank your legislators and the committee members.To stop the Springfield biomass plant from being built, the focus is now on the Baker Administration. There are two steps needed.

First, we want Governor Baker to sign the bill when it hits his desk. There is no time for negotiating or overturning a veto as the legislative session is about to end. Please email the Governor to say you want him to sign S2995, an Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, as soon as the legislature has sent it to him: https://www.mass.gov/forms/email-the-governors-office

Second, the Baker administration has proposed a rule change that would allow the biomass plant to count its electricity as clean. The Co-Chairs of the state legislature’s energy committee could stop or delay this rule from being changed. Please contact the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee Chairs, Rep Thomas Golden at Thomas.Golden@mahouse.gov, and Senator Michael Barrett at Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov to intervene and stop the Department of Energy Resources from changing the rules to allow electricity from wood-to-energy plants to count as clean energy.


As many of you know, Craig’s Doors, our community’s Resource Center/Shelter has relocated to the Universalist Unitarian Society (UU) located at 121 N. Pleasant Street, Amherst (next to the Post Office) and is now offering round-the-clock services.They are requesting the following items at this time:


  • TWIN sheets and blankets (they now have beds rather than cots!!)
  • Pillows and pillowcases
  • Warm hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
  • NEW warm socks (think WOOL!)

Items can be dropped off at ANYTIME directly to the UU using the side entrance ramp opposite Panda East and Barts. If the door is locked, ring the bell and someone will greet you and take your donation at the door. Please wear your mask at delivery. Please mention that you have a donation from the JCA. Because the JCA building is officially closed, we will NOT be collecting items at the JCA until further notice.  Please contact Robin Diamond at 413-348-3484 or RDiamond413@gmail.com with questions, or if you need help transporting your items to the shelter. B’shalom.


The Vetting Committee of the JCA Tzedek Initiative recommends supporting the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, which is helping to support service industry workers who are not eligible for unemployment insurance during COVID. The report from One Fair Wage, a nonprofit that supports service workers, found that Black female restaurant workers in Massachusetts make on average $7.79 less per hour ― including tips — than white men in the same positions. One Fair Wage has established the emergency fund in part because Black and Brown communities are hardest hit by the pandemic and by the resulting dire and untenable economic situation. For further information about the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund and to make a donation please see the following link: ofwemergencyfund.org



As our climate changes, we must step up our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Nor can we stand idly by, as poor, working and BIPOC communities bear the greater burdens of pollution and climate change. Locally, we have a chance to act, in Springfield — the asthma capital of the USA — which is facing a climate justice issue. Eversource is planning to build a large, high pressure gas pipeline from Longmeadow and into Springfield, calling it a “reliability” measure. It will likely run through a frontline community and cost tens of millions of dollars, and Eversource will pay for it by raising our electricity bills. (Eversource will not disclose the pipeline’s exact route or cost).

Springfield needs no more methane leaks nor burning of gas polluting its air. Ratepayers should not pay for what will become a stranded asset, at a time when we need all our resources to be invested int he transition to efficient green energy. Particularly, as residents of Western Mass, we can add our voices to the petition, demanding that Eversource terminate the Longmeadow-Springfield pipeline project, and meet with the community coalition that is resisting this project. Click HERE to sign the petition.


This “postcard”/letter” action was initiated by asylum seekers in the tent camp in Matamoros, MX, at the US/MX border, who are stuck there under MPP, the Migrant Protection Protocol, also called “Remain in Mexico”. 600 postcards were written by people in the camp urging an end to the inhumane MPP, and delivered to Representative Vela of Texas, who gave them to Dr. Jill Biden.

The idea is to urge Dr. Biden to take on Ending MPP as her special First Lady Project. She visited the migrants in Matamoros in late 2019 and saw the horrible reality for herself. Now this action has become nationwide, and here is where we come in. Letters in support of the migrants’ pleas to end MPP will be flowing in from all over the US to Dr. Jill Biden, delivered to her by individual US congressional representatives. The plan locally is to collect as many “postcards”/letters as possible, which then will be sent to Congressman McGovern’s office; Congressman McGovern has agreed to get those to Dr. Jill Biden.

Please print out this POSTCARD/LETTER on your computer, and then sign your name, and write the name of your town and zip code after your signature. Please then send it in an envelope to: Annique Boomsma, 66 Harkness Rd. Pelham MA 01002. Annique will collect them all and send to the contact at Congressman McGovern’s office, who has agreed to make sure they will get delivered to Dr. Jill Biden. Thank you for participating. Please feel free to share this request with your networks!


Springfield No One Leaves (www.springfieldnooneleaves.org) is a grass roots organization that organizes residents most directly impacted by the housing crisis and economic inequality to build collective power, defend against displacement and win long-term community ownership and control over land and housing. We highlighted this organization recently. They need a volunteer for a few hours a week who is proficient with Word Press to help them with their website. Interested people could contact Aaron Berman of our Tzedek Initiative at aberman@hampshire.edu or Rose Webster-Smith of SNOL at rose@springfieldnooneleaves.org


As the Jewish Community of Amherst’s Tzedek Racial Justice Initiative continues to learn about, and work in coalition for racial equity in Amherst, we want to share our support for the following community and town efforts to date. We look forward to seeing the fruits of these efforts in the near future, as we join with many others to translate our commitment to racial justice into tangible actions, in Amherst and beyond. Click HERE to read a copy of the letter we are sending to the Town Manager, the Town Council and the Amherst Indy.


The Criminal Justice Action Group of the Tzedek Initiative urges you to support this action on police reform: Police Reform Bill – H.4889/S.2821. Let’s make the push to get the legislature to act now on police reform! Support Black leaders speaking out and counteract the influence of police unions. The bill is stalled in conference committee. The Boston Globe said in an editorial last month: It is now or never for police reform in Massachusetts. Let’s make is NOW! Link to sign the petition: http://chng.it/G8pFnvvq. In addition to signing the petition, click HERE to learn how to email the conference committee and call your own legislators to in support of the letter signed by groups across the state.