Racial Equity, Property Taxation, and Rosh Hashanah

As we approach the High Holidays, we often focus on the life we are leading and what we need to change. What mistakes have we made and more importantly what new actions we should take in the New Year? Most of us have lists of both types particularly for our personal lives, but have we considered what we might do to better our community? Here in Western North Carolina one way to address that is joining the fight to eliminate inequity and racism in the Buncombe County and Asheville property tax codes, which place an inordinate burden on people of color.

Read more

Jewish Values and Labor Day

By fortuitous coincidence, this year Labor Day falls on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a time of internal and public moral reckoning and our vows to do better in the coming year. The Asheville-based nonprofit Just Economics each year urges congregations of all faiths to observe the sabbath before Labor Day as “Labor Sabbath,” to lift up the plight of workers and act faithfully to seek justice for workers.  

From the global pandemic, to racial and political strife, to the politicization of health protection measures, this year has highlighted existing injustices for workers in an unprecedented way. Millions of workers face unemployment, lack of healthcare and paid medical leave, the threat of eviction, and unsafe working conditions. Small businesses have closed, reopened, and may have to close again, throwing their owners and employees out of work. Essential workers are putting themselves in harm’s way for less than a living wage, and the impacts of racism are devastating for workers of color. All this, while the stock market soars and many large companies and executives thrive. 

How will we pledge to do better for the working people in this nation? What do our Jewish values have to say about that?

Read more

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.
Read more

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

Read more

A Mini Guide to Voting Rights Activism

If you’ve been wanting to get involved and can’t decide the best way to use your limited time effectively, this guide is for you. Remember that educating yourself about the issues is important, but don’t stay on the sidelines. This guide will help you move your worry and anger into action. Make your voice heard and engage others in doing the same!

A few words of encouragement: When you take action, you are joining thousands of others who have become new activists in the past few years.  Everybody’s contribution makes a difference. It all adds up to a huge impact. There is much to be hopeful about, but we will succeed only if enough of us are willing and able to take action.

  • SECTION ONE:  An overview of ways to take action.
  • SECTION TWO:  An up-to-date description of current actions you can take
Read more

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.

Read more

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. 

Read more

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.

Read more

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.


Read more

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.
Read more