Jewish Community Adopts Consensus Policies on Campus Anti-Semitism, Hydrofracking, Education Equality, Collective Bargaining, and Gender Separation in Israel
Image: Rabbi Leonard Gordon (USCJ), Barbara Weinstein (RAC) and Rabbi Shawn Zevit (JRF) at the JCPA Plenum
Detroit, MI – May 7, 2012: The Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ 14 national member agencies (including The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation) and 125 Community Relations Councils debated and adopted five resolutions expressing the consensus view of the American Jewish community at the JCPA’s annual Plenum in Detroit. The resolutions deal with anti-Semitism on campuses, collective bargaining, education equity, gender segregation in Israel, and hydrofracking for natural gas and oil.
For the complete resolutions go to http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/blog/comments.jsp?blog_entry_KEY=6328
I1. Countering Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Activity on Campus
This resolution calls for education about and support for the “important remedy” that is now available under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and calls on campus leaders to do more to make students safe. It embraces a range of responses to hostile campus atmospheres including dialogue, education, and legal remedies.
2. Collective Bargaining
This resolution continues longstanding support for collective bargaining for public employees and opposes efforts to narrow or eliminate it.
3. Equal Education Opportunity
This resolution addresses inequity in educational opportunity in public schools. This resolution calls for research, education, and community attention directed to closing the achievement gap in our nation’s public schools and heightening awareness of this issue on the national Jewish agenda.
4. Gender Segregation in Public Spaces in Israel (JRF joined the Conservative and Reform movements as well as CRC's and other organizations in this resolution)
This resolution was ultimately supported by the National Council of Jewish Women along with the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox Jewish movements. It states that enforced gender segregation in secular public spaces is inconsistent with Israel’s founding principles of equality and, at the same time, that there may be circumstances where accommodation of gender segregation may be appropriate such as the consideration of religious and cultural sensitivities in the delivery of municipal services
5. Hydrofracking (JRF was the only denominational movement to sponsor this resolution along with the Jewish Labor Committee, and three JCRCs)
This resolution addresses natural gas and oil extraction by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as hydrofracking. The resolution calls for studies, disclosure, safeguards, and oversight.
In 1990 JRF passed a movement-wide resolution (see attachments below) on the environment and congregational life. Since 2006 we offered conference calls and resources on Sustainable Synagogues and Living a Jewish Life Rooted in Ecological Values.
With the enthusiasm around JRF's Omer Learning Initiative, (2010 Omer Sustainability call- http://jrf.org/pearl/2011/Sustainability) as well as the solid response of JRF congregations in the Climate Change and Blessing the Sun (Solar Energy) Initiatives, JRF continues to deepen our work with member communities, other religious movements and partner organizations (JCPA, COEJL) in the area of sustainability. See Rabbi Shawn Zevit speak about the Reconstructionist Movement's work in sustainability
A number of us in the Jewish and larger social justice streams have been tracking the issue of child slave labor and the chocolate industry (Hershey is not the only or worst culprit here) for some time. My cousin’s son gave a dvar challenging his congregation to audit their chocolate choices in 2009 at his bar mitzvah. He came to this issue by identifying with Joseph being tossed down the pit and crying out with no one to hear him, abandoned by those he loved (his dvar Torah is attached on this page). read more »You will also see a Fair Trade Chocolate Seder, an Adat Shalom supplement supplied to me by Rabbi Erin Hirsh, some information from Fair Trade Judaica who are organizing their own Jewish community campaign, links supplied by Cantor Eric Schulmiller of Reconstructionist congregation RSNS, NY. For thousands of children on this planet, slavery is not a historical event, but a current reality. We can make a difference.
The JRF-GreenFaith Partnership
GreenFaith and the JRF through the Department of Congregational Services and Tikkun Olam are pleased to announce a three-year partnership to promote a deepening of JRF’s existing environmental initiatives. GreenFaith is a leading national interfaith environmental coalition whose mission is to help diverse religious communities become environmental leaders. GreenFaith is a leading interfaith environmental coalition whose mission is to educate, equip and empower diverse religious communities for environmental leadership. Founded in 1992, GreenFaith offers a range of programs that help faith-based groups nationwide put their beliefs into action for the earth. The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation has had a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship and the role of the Jewish people in building sustainable communities (http://jrf.org/Sustainable_Synagogue_Resources). read more »
A CALL TO OBSERVE SHABBAT NOACH, OCTOBER 9-10,2010, AS THE SECOND ANNUAL "GLOBAL CLIMATE HEALING SHABBAT"
The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, as well as leaders and organizations of many other streams of Jewish life, have endorsed a call to focus Shabbat Noach on October 9-10, 2010 as Climate Healing Shabbat. The Torah passage for that Shabbat lends itself to focusing on the danger of destruction of life on our planet, and also on the actions we need to take to prevent destruction and preserve the web of life in which the human race has emerged and created civilization.
We urge congregations to bring sermons, prayer, song, poetry, midrash, resolutions, invitations to public officials, etc., to focus on this issue.
The international observance of "Global Climate Healing Shabbat Noach" is a prelude to the crucial United Nations conference on the climate crisis scheduled for December, 2010.
Click here for JRF resources as part of COEJL's Guide (http://www.coejl.org/shabbat_noach.php) to materials from the North American Jewish Green Chevre network of organizations for Shabbat Noach 5771read more »
Click here for Reconstructionist movement and other general resources for living a sustainable, Jewish life!
The core of the campaign is as follows:
Please consider signing and circulating to your community the JRF signed and supported COEJL/JCPA Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign http://engage.jewishpublicaffairs.org/t/2929/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1246. (JRF is a member religious organization of COEJL and JCPA).
Former Vice President Al Gore endorsing our effort said "I am so happy to see that this initiative will draw upon the new leadership of younger men and women who see in the legacy of Judaism's teachings on stewardship a source of renewal of their Jewish faith..." Click here to read more.
Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore, partners with Hazon’s Tuv Ha’Aretz Community Supported Agricultural program (CSA), and provides the Jewish community with an opportunity to support local, sustainable agriculture. Read the article in the Jewish Week
On May 11 and 12, 2009, JRF’s Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Rabbi Nancy Epstein, Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat, JRF affiliate Adat Shalom’s Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb represented the JRF at a meeting of more than 40 leaders from across the broad spectrum of the organized American Jewish community for the first national Jewish Sustainability Conference. We gathered at the incredible Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center outside Baltimore for two days of learning, workshops, and discussion on Judaism and sustainability.
One of the initial questions we grappled with was defining “sustainability”. Rachel Cohen, the intern for environmental issues for the Religious Action Center, with whom we partner on many social justice initiatives, stated in her post-conference blog entry that “sustainability means creating communities that meet the basic human needs of all of their members, (and the world we are part of), by rethinking and often limiting both what we take from the natural world and the by-products that we put into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the public spaces we enjoy together. We came to understand how the American Jewish community can unite around the goal of building safer, healthier communities for ourselves and our children based on these fundamental principles.” We also shared an understanding from Jewish tradition and contemporary thought, that sustainability means living in a social, economic, political, environmental, culutral and spiritual balance and integrative manner. In this way the impact of our actions to meet our own needs and the needs of the planet today, are also measured against the impact on future generations (l'dor v'dor).
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), a program of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, along with 17 Jewish religious movements and national organizations, organized and sponsored this historic gathering. JRF was involved from the beginning of this effort as part of our movement wide commitment to the issue, dating back to our 1990 Resolution on the Environment, and the recent "Omer Learning and Sustainable Synagogue Initiatives. read more »
For your information, here are the resolutions that came out of the recent JCPA plenum. In the two years since JRF became a member religious organization and fourth Jewish movement in the JCPA, we have participated in many coalitions and sign-on initiatives. This Plenum marked the first time we were a national religious organization co-sponsoring three of the resolutions below. Thanks to Carl Sheingold (JRF Executive Vice-President), Bob Barkin (JRF President) and Val Kaplan (JRF Chair of External Affiliations) for representing us and voting on our behalf at the Plenum.
Full listing of partner organizations and sign-ons,
JCPA speaks to you each week, alerting you to what the community relations field is doing to safeguard the rights of Jews here, in Israel, and around the world and to protect, preserve and promote a just, democratic and pluralistic American society. For three generations, we have brought together diverse voices in the Jewish community to unite a strong Jewish public policy force.
Date: March 11, 2009
From: Max Mulcahy, Program Director, JCPA
Below are the final versions of the JCPA resolutions as adopted by the 2009 Plenum. Click on the links to access the resolution text in pdf format. Please share these resolutions with your board and leadership. If you have any questions please feel free to contact JCPA offices.