Reflections and invitations from Rachel Karasik
In mid-August, amid record setting temperatures, heatwaves, and flooding events, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. The act is the US’ largest investment into climate mitigation ever. These investments will promote clean energy technologies that reduce carbon emissions and make electric vehicles and heat pumps more accessible. The bill can cut emissions by 40%, begin to address environmental injustices, and create jobs. Climate change as well as jobs and the economy are political issues that are priorities for Jewish voters and voters across party lines.
While the face of this legislation from the senate is a seemingly unlikely alliance between senators Manchin and Schumer, it’s momentum was powered by, in the words of our comrades at Dayenu, who can read more about at this link, “decades of organizing led by Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-income communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and more recently, by young people.” These grassroots efforts — which have frankly been admonished by leaders and in the media, labeled as histrionic, unrealistic, and not based in science— communicated the urgency of the climate crisis to the American public. This is not about a polar bear floating on a thinning ice sheet in the Arctic.
Climate change is here and let me be clear: if it has not affected you or a loved one yet, it will. In the past year as CJJ has become immersed in climate justice knowledge and activism in North Carolina, I have met climate refugees from California escaping fire seasons that have destroyed their homes. I learned from North Carolinians fighting fracked gas pipelines from the motels they live in years after hurricanes wiped out their communities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, I FaceTimed my mom as she tried to save decades of family memories now floating in flood water.
This bill is not perfect. It favors the fossil fuel industry, which keeps Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-wealth communities across the country on the frontlines of industrial pollution, racism, and poverty. It allows oil and gas development on public lands. It excludes critical investments in childcare and family care and does not provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status recipients, and essential workers. It does not invest adequately in climate resilience, which prepares communities to respond to the ongoing natural disasters and hazards they are facing today.
So, what is next? Let’s start by celebrating this victory, and acknowledging the Jewish climate movement’s role. Let us then remember that this work is far from over. At CJJ we will continue to invest in shared learning on environmental justice. We will continue to support North Carolina’s League of Conservation Voters Foundation’s voting rights and voter registration work, we will communicate opportunities to support communities affected by natural disasters.
We will also join Dayenu in their upcoming efforts to keep this momentum going and ensure future legislative efforts do not give a pass to the fossil fuel industry. And we hope you do too. We encourage you to take action now in these three ways:
- Launching the Chutzpah 2022 campaign to mobilize voters and change the political landscape. To defend the IRA's investments and prevent the fossil fuel industry from turning back the clock, we need to ensure that our elected leaders have the Chutzpah to continue making climate a priority. Learn more about the Chutzpah 2022 get-out-the-vote campaign and how you can get involved here. Mark your calendars to join the virtual campaign kick-off, Wednesday. Sept. 7, 7:00-8:30pm ET in partnership with the Environmental Voter Project (EVP).
- Standing with impacted communities to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuel companies snuck some nasty provisions into the IRA, including opening additional public land and water for oil and gas drilling. We must stop dirty deals that expand fossil fuels and harm communities on the frontlines of poverty, racism, and pollution. Sign this letter from our allies at People vs. Fossil Fuels and stay tuned for additional action opportunities.
- Urging President Biden to declare a climate emergency, fully leveraging the power of his office. We’ve pushed the limits of climate action in this Congress (see Chutzpah 2022 for how we're working to change the political landscape), but there is so much more the federal government can do to confront the climate crisis. Add your name and boost Dayenu's petition calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and use executive authority to confront the crisis.
If you want to get more involved in this work, please do not hesitate to contact CJJ-Durham/Orange County chapter leader Rachel Karasik at [email protected]
Voting as an Imperative
In a post written by Rabbi Dara Lithwick on ReformJudaism.org titled "What’s So Jewish About Voting", she opens her essay with the following sentences: “Judaism teaches us that voting is not just a civic duty. In fact, many of our rabbis and sages have framed voting as a mitzvah, a Jewish imperative.”
With the midterm elections in November, voting has never been more important. Since Congress is unable to enact federal laws to establish minimum standards for all states, each state is empowered to create its own rules. In some states that has resulted in laws that are characterized as voter suppression.
Another challenge is misinformation or a lack of clarity about how to navigate voting. Questions about the rules for absentee voting, the need for a voter ID (currently, not in NC), and more. Those questions and misinformation can create obstacles not to vote.
Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) is a leader in promoting voting. CJJ cannot take positions on candidates or political parties, but it does work to “create a more just, fair, and compassionate North Carolina”. That means CJJ is working to address the challenges to provide those eligible to vote the information they need to do so. To promote voting, CJJ works with many partners to provide opportunities for people to take action.
It starts by all of us:
- Putting together a plan for voting. A statewide organization, You Can Vote, offers a “pledge to vote” campaign to help make your plan. “Google” their name to sign up, and you will receive timely emails to help you navigate voting.
- Checking that you are registered under your current name at your current address. Go to: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/ or “google” NC Voter Search. Enter your name to see if you are registered accurately. You can find out what districts you are in to determine what races will be on your ballot and where your polling place is on Election Day. In September, you will be able to see your sample ballot.
- Learning about the candidates on your ballot. Vote411.org is an important website to provide information on candidates and voter guides. CJJ-West is helping people learn about the positions of candidates on key social justice issues for those running for NC General Assembly seats in WNC and US House District 11. Watch for the announcement to get this online candidate guide.
- Joining CJJ for a statewide Get out the Vote (GOTV) Shabbat. This online event is set for the late afternoon on October 21st. There will be opportunities before and after, but the GOTV Shabbat will be a great way to learn, be inspired and “plug in”.
Should you have questions at any point or want to help promote voting here in the west, contact Ron Katz, CJJ-West’s Democracy Rights work group lead. To reach him, email him at [email protected].
The Jewish Response to Reproductive Justice
Mena Kates and Judy Leavitt
The Jewish Perspective (National Council of Jewish Women ((NCJW))/Rabbi Jenny Solomon)The Written and Oral Torah conclude:
• The fetus does not have the status of personhood.
• The full status of personhood and therefore the protections of personhood do not begin
at conception but begins at a viable birth.
• The fetus does not have meaningful status for the first forty days; thereafter, it is
considered part of the body of the pregnant woman until it breathes on its own.
• Termination of a pregnancy is required if a mother’s life is at risk, the risk. This can be
understood to concern her physical and mental wellbeing.
In Summary: (interpretations by NCJW)
- Jewish teachings command us to care for our communities and our neighbors. That
includes making sure everyone has access to safe health care, including access to
abortion and reproductive care.
- Abortion care is health care, and health care is a human right. The Jewish value
includes believing in a world where everyone can access abortion care when they
- Bans on abortion aren’t just a violation of the human right to bodily autonomy,
they’re a violation of our religious rights as Jews. Jewish tradition doesn’t just allow
abortion, it commands it in some cases — and we need to make sure abortion stays
accessible for everyone.
- Is abortion still legal in the U.S.? In some states.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade guaranteed the constitutional
right to have an abortion in the U.S. The Supreme Court has now overturned Roe v.
Wade with their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
- Roe being overturned is not the same thing as there being a federal ban on
abortion. Roe being overturned means the constitutional protection that was in place
has been removed, and the states are no longer limited in what kinds of abortion
restrictions they can pass. Some states have legal protections in place that will ensure
that abortion remains legal there. Others have banned or severely restricted abortion.
- It is legal to travel out of state to get an abortion, no matter what state you’re located
- 8 states completely ban abortion
- 36 states ban abortion after a specified point in pregnancy
- 19 states (including North Carolina) require a person seeking an abortion to
wait a specified period of time before their abortion
- 28 states require some type of parental involvement for a minor to get an abortion
- North Carolina - Abortion is legal in North Carolina until "viability"; which is the stage of pregnancy when a fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus with medical help. It usually happens around 24 to 26 weeks of pregnancy. For more info go to: https://www.abortionfinder.org/abortion-guides-by-state/abortion-in-north-carolina.
If the injunction is removed, abortions will still be legal in the first 20
weeks of pregnancy or in a medical emergency, unless new legislation is passed by
the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.
Before Roe v Wade, abortion was illegal in most states. One of the most effective responses, was
the creation of the Jane Collective, started by Heather Booth (https://www.heyalma.com/a-brief-history-
of-the-jane-collective/), a Jewish woman. Officially known as the Abortion Counseling Service of
Women's Liberation, it was an underground service in Chicago, Illinois affiliated with the Chicago
Women's Liberation Union that operated from 1969 to 1973, a time when abortion was illegal in most of
the United States.
In 1973, the Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that the constitutional right of privacy implicit
in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protected a woman’s right to choose
abortion. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, decided in 1992, the
Court clarified that the right to have an abortion could be exercised at any time before viability.
83% of Jews support abortion – more than any other religious group.
Abortion action is a matter of religious freedom. We as Jews must act on our teachings!
- State action is a priority –
o Vote for pro-choice candidates for state offices
o Protest efforts to gerrymander districts
o Support Medicaid expansion and maintain reproductive healthcare
o Support health providers freedom to give care
o Know the facts: 1 in 5 women will have an abortion – whether it is legal or not
- Federal action
o Ask our Senators to support the Women’s Health Protection Act
- Individual action:
o Donate to the Carolina Abortion Fund, and independent clinics such as Keep Our
Clinics to make sure people can get the care they need.
o Contribute to the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access, an initiative of the National
Council of Jewish Women that resources the National Abortion Federation.
o Support Pro-Choice NC - sign up for their Rapid Response list to stay informed
about actions you can take now and in the future.
o Support Planned Parenthood of NC, to continue reproductive health care and support
women coming from other states to NC.
Join Carolina Jews for Justice to expand access and support! See the Reproductive Justice page on the CJJ website.
This is our last chance to Get Out the Vote! If you are thinking of supporting specific candidates, go for it! But please consider the value of voter outreach with nonpartisan organizations. These groups often know best how to reach people of color and young people and may be better equipped to connect with voters who don’t identify with either major political party or are turned off by partisan politics. This guide gives you information about the nonpartisan organizations active in North Carolina. Take a look and then sign up!
If you’d like to take action together with others in CJJ, contact one of our Voting Rights groups. If you have questions or would like to talk with someone in order to figure out how to get started, contact [email protected].
NORTH CAROLINA 2022 ELECTIONS
IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND DATES
It’s time to vote!
ELECTION DAY is NOV 8! EARLY VOTING runs from October 20 - November 5!
FIVE things to know about casting your vote:
- Check your registration here. If you can’t find it, or it’s not up to date with the correct address, you can register and vote at the same time during Early Voting. It’s too late to update your registration for voting by mail or voting on Election Day, so use Early Voting!
- Find your polling location. From now through November 5 you can vote at any early voting site in your county. Click here to locate these sites. On Election Day, you must vote at your precinct polling location. To find the address, look up your registration here, and scroll to the bottom.
- Request a ballot if you want to vote by mail. To request a ballot, click here. If you want to download a form, click here. The deadline to request a ballot is November 1, but do it sooner! You need time to receive the ballot, fill it out in front of two witnesses or a notary, and return it. Completed ballots must be delivered to the county Board of Elections Office by 5 pm on November 8, or postmarked by 5 pm on November 8 and received by November 14. To track your ballot online, click here.
- Look up your sample ballot, so you can decide who to vote for before you head to the polls. District lines have changed, and there may be some races on the ballot you didn’t know about! To find your sample ballot, look up your voter registration by clicking here, then scroll down to the bottom.
- Read nonpartisan information about candidates at www.vote411.org or http://www.ncvoter.org
Races on the ballot include:
- The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
- The N.C. General Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives)
- The N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
- Municipal and county elections in some locations, including judicial and sheriff races, bonds, etc. (Check your sample ballot!)
A Memorandum for Carolina Jews for Justice — May 25, 2022
On May 2, 2022, Politico published a leaked draft of an opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Case No. 19-1392, now pending in the United States Supreme Court. The draft is authored by Justice Samuel Alito and apparently represents the proposed decision by a majority of the Court to overrule both Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), the seminal cases establishing and clarifying the constitutional right of reproductive choice. The draft, dated February 10 of this year, does not reveal who besides Justice Alito would join in the majority opinion or who would dissent, but the draft’s authenticity has been confirmed by Chief Justice Roberts. According to Politico, a confidential source “familiar with the court’s deliberations” says that Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett voted with Justice Alito in the Court’s initial conference after hearing oral arguments in December.
If the draft becomes the decision of the Court, what will its effect be in North Carolina?Read more
On April 24, veteran voting rights attorneys Leslie Winner and Hilary Harris Klein joined us for a conversation about the struggle for voting rights in North Carolina, past and present, and how we can be engaged in this critical work now. You can view the recording of this powerful dialogue on YouTube.Read more
On May 1st (May Day!), many CJJniks and other Jews from across the South gathered at Asheville's legendary Hard Lox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival - hosted by Congregation Beth HaTephila. The Festival was an incredible opportunity for Southern Jews "from the hills and hollers" to come together after a long hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. The energy was celebratory coupled with a desire to take action to defend and expand our multiracial democracy!
CJJ Statewide Organizer, Lisa Forehand, engaged many folks in our work in the West, recruiting full sheets of new members! Stay tuned for upcoming Orientation events and CJJ-West programming!
CJJ-West Leaders Marilynne Herbert and Judy Leavitt sandwich CJJ Interim Executive Director, and long distance pastrami-seeker, Abby Lublin, beaming from the food and in person conversations!
CJJ leaders and staff spoke with countless people who were eager for information about how to vote. Ron Katz - CJJ Board Member and Voting Rights Team leader - single-handedly defended democracy by answering election questions from an endless line of festival-goers.
Marilynne Herbert met this wonderful young man who arrived in Asheville two weeks ago from Odessa, Ukraine. He was very moved to connect with Jewish community. The feelings were mutual, as we shed some tears while he blew the shofar. Please introduce yourself if you see him around town, wearing his new CJJ blue t-shirt.
We met people from all over WNC and beyond, and were inspired by their eagerness to engage in the Jewish tradition of enacting greater justice for all. CJJ is thrilled to have such a positive response. We shared hard-copy voter guides (you can access another guide via the League of Women Voters website), as well as a list of upcoming CJJ-West events. It was amazing to be together again, and we look forward to more!
If you had a similar reaction to us in January of 2020, you were completely glued to your phone or computer as you watched an organized white nationalist formation take over the US Capitol building - intent on inspiring fear, violence, and stopping democratic process.
Here is the thing: it is of vital importance to remember that we’ve seen this before. In this country. In our state. As Black and Brown progressive political power is built, there is a violent white political reaction. We know this from post-Reconstruction America. Look no further than our own state for one of the most violent white supremacist coups of that time, Wilmington, NC in 1898.
Led by board member Ray Katz and organizer Brandon Mond, our statewide community gathered on January 19th - the day before Inauguration Day - for a political education program on the Wilmington Coup of 1898. You can read more about this day in Black history at this link or by watching the recording of our virtual gathering below.
CJJ’s response to January 6th, aside from continuing to take action to defend our democracy, was to call our membership into a collective study of this history. We must take a hard look at the past in order to move strategically now, and build a better tomorrow with our Black and Brown siblings.