New In-Person Event Guidelines

Since March 2020, it has been CJJ's organizational policy that all official events happen virtually. The health and safety of our community remain our utmost priority, and after extensive research and consideration, we are updating that policy to allow for in-person events. The parameters for in-person events are detailed below.
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Resources for Voting Rights Activism

Assembled below are some of the best nonpartisan organizations working to promote voting and increase voter access and transparency, both here in North Carolina and nationally. 

If there are others that you think should be added or have questions, please contact Cole Parke or Ron Katz

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A Mini Guide to Voting Rights Activism

If you’ve been wanting to get involved and can’t decide what to do, this guide is for you. You have limited time (don’t we all?) and you want to be effective, so what’s the best way to dive in? The purpose of this guide is to answer that question. My goal is to help you take action to make your voice heard and to engage as many others as you can in doing the same.

Remember that educating yourself about the issues is important, but don’t stay on the sidelines.  Democracy in the United States is in peril and the more people involved, the more likely we’ll save (and even expand) democracy. Take comfort in knowing that hundreds of thousands of people have become new activists in the past few years, and that everybody’s contributions – small and large – add up to huge impact. You can keep up with ways to take action by signing up for newsletters from partners listed on our Resources page. Please consider being a part of this!  It’s no time to feel discouraged. There is much to be optimistic about, but we will succeed only if enough of us are willing and able to take action.

This guide begins with my perspective on voting rights activism (even for people who don’t call themselves activists). Following this is an overview of ways to take action. The last section is an up-to-date description of current actions you can take. Things change quickly, as legislative bodies go in and out of session, and as redistricting and elections take front seat later this year. I plan to provide updates in the coming months. 

If you’d like to learn together and take action together with others on voting rights, join your local chapter’s Voting Rights workgroups. The names and contact information of CJJ's Voting Rights Team Leaders for each chapter are listed here (scroll down to the bottom of the page!)

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Help pass the Equality Act!

-By Cole Parke, CJJ Statewide Organizer

Earlier today, I got my first real-deal haircut in over a year, and I feel GREAT! It was such a relief, not only to put my head into the hands of a trusted (and masked) professional, but also to be in a queer-affirming space  in addition to asking how I wanted my hair styled, my hairstylist asked me what pronouns I use, and was kind, respectful, and affirming throughout our interaction.

As a queer and trans person, I don't take this kind of experience for granted, especially in parts of the country where LGBTQ people aren't protected from discrimination.

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Pursuing Racial Justice in our Criminal Legal System

-By Frank Goldsmith, CJJ-West Steering Committee & Statewide Board Member


Barukh atah hashem eloheinu melekh ha-olam, matir asurim.

Praised are you, Lord our God, sovereign of time and space, who releases the imprisoned.

Fairness, mercy, and compassion are at the heart of Judaism’s approach to criminal punishment.  Thus we begin the traditional morning service with the birkhot ha-shachar, the morning blessings, which include praise of God for releasing those bound or imprisoned. 

The birkat ha-gomel, thanking God for saving us from danger, is recited not only when we have recovered from serious illness or returned from a long journey, but also on the occasion of being released from prison (B’rakhot 54b).  (It is not because the imprisonment might not have been deserved; Orthodox siddurim translations candidly thank God “who bestows goodness upon the guilty.”)

The Torah, while sanctioning punishment for the guilty, admonishes us to remember their humanity; excessive punishment is forbidden, “lest your brother be degraded before your eyes.” (Deut. 25:2-3.)  The offender is still our sibling. 

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Jewish community calls for Rep. Cawthorn's resignation

The following op-ed was published in the Asheville Citizen Times on Sunday, January 17, 2021, authored by Deborah Miles of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Western NC, and David Hurand of Carolina Jews for Justice.

The Western North Carolina Jewish community had been looking forward to having a constructive dialogue with Madison Cawthorn, our newly elected congressional representative.  We had asked for a meeting date and were awaiting a response.  Now, however, after witnessing his role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, we have decided that our differences are beyond the pale of conversation. We are instead calling for his immediate resignation as Representative of North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.

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Shabbes Reflections from Anna Grant

On Saturday, November 7, in advance of the Protect Our Votes rally in Raleigh, CJJ hosted a Shabbat morning service in order to create a space of community connection with other Jews for justice and to ground ourselves in the prophetic traditions of our Judaism. Anna Grant — CJJ-Durham/OC member, NCAE organizer, and all around social justice super hero — offered the following reflections during our time together.

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Are You Ready to Vote?

Voting is happening now, and uncertainty still dominates the news.

  • Will we be able to vote safely in person? The answer is yes! County Boards of Elections have taken great pains to make voting safe for poll workers and voters.
  • Will some precincts be closed? That is not clear at this point, but recruitment of poll workers has been strong.
  • Will there be long lines? Early Voting has been strong and is breaking records! That bodes well for Election Day having shorter lines.
  • What if I want to vote by mail? You can still vote by mail (provided you submitted an application for your absentee ballot by Oct. 27), but you need to send in your ballot as soon as possible.
  • How do I know if my absentee ballot has been accepted? If you have a valid absentee request on file with your county board of elections, you can use North Carolina BallotTrax to determine its status.
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Today we remember

Two years ago 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

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What's Coming This Election Season

This content was originally shared on our Oct. 21 Southern Jews Call: Building Community in Crisis. We will be holding a second call for the same audience, on Wed., Nov. 18: Register here.

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