Our Guiding Principles
Our Torah is a record of the attempt to develop a just way of life, not only for the individual but for society. Rabbinic commentaries, which have guided the lives of Jewish communities for centuries, speak not only about the relationship between humans and the Divine, but between humans and their neighbors: rich and poor, citizen and stranger, the powerful and those lacking in power.
Carolina Jews for Justice provides an opportunity for Jews to carry out these ideals through participation in the public arena in North Carolina. To accomplish this, we operate under the following core principles:
- B’tzelem Elohim (In the image of G-d): Judaism teaches us that all human beings are created in the Divine image and as such should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of physical, philosophical, political or cultural characteristics which make them different from ourselves. Commandments concerning the “stranger” are among the most frequent in our Torah. They require us to put ourselves in the position of others, and to protect their fundamental rights and dignity as carefully as we protect our own.
V’ahavta L’reacha Kamocha (Love your neighbor as yourself): The great freedom we have in America is to be cherished — but freedom does not relieve us of responsibility for our neighbors. Across eras and denominations, Jewish religious thought has viewed caring for every person as a non-negotiable obligation to all. We reject the ethic that views our economy and our society as a contest in which everyone is responsible only for themselves.
Tikkun Olam (Repairing the world): Judaism teaches us that the world has always been a work in progress. It compels us to see the world with all its faults. As partners in creation, we have a duty to repair the world — through the protection of our environment, the care and education of our children, and the elimination of poverty and oppression.
Kehillah (Community): CJJ is called as an organization to be political, but not partisan. We focus on issues and not candidates or labels. We emphasize the areas in which we can have the most impact. We ally ourselves with other groups and individuals whenever we agree, and seek respect and mutual understanding when we do not. We strive to listen to minority viewpoints and to treat everyone with respect.
Our Community Norms & Expectations
*Created with support from Detroit Jews for Justice and the National Council of Jewish Women.
CJJ seeks to create a culture that models the just and liberated world we’re fighting for and minimizes the replication of oppressive systems, structures, behaviors, and dynamics. The following guidelines aim to support us in enacting these values:
Take responsibility for the impact of your words and actions. We value feedback as a gift, and we commit to taking accountability and learning from our mistakes when we have done harm. We also commit to being gentle with ourselves and one another as we heal and grow.
Seek understanding, not judgment. When we witness or hear something unhelpful or offensive, we assume harm was not intended and assume responsibility for proactively addressing the harm with curiosity, grace, and an understanding that we are all learning and growing. When we experience harm, we seek accountability directly or with the support of allies. Those who are directly affected by harmful behavior are not responsible for educating those who have caused it.
Be transparent and direct. We can build stronger relationships by being clear and open about our feelings, needs, boundaries, expectations, and requests.
Be willing to listen as much as you lead. To build a movement that is effective and responds to the needs and vision of people who are the most affected by oppression and injustice, we need to learn as much as we lead. Be willing to listen and to change your opinion or course of action upon learning new information.
Be proactive. In our efforts to resist injustice and oppression, we seek to follow the leadership of those most directly affected, and we recognize that we too have a stake in this work and a responsibility to take action. Instead of waiting to be told what to do, we must also take initiative in our efforts toward justice and liberation.
There is room for everyone. We seek to be responsive to the ways in which identity plays a role in amplifying some voices while silencing others, and we respect and value the diverse experiences/wisdom within our community. If you are naturally the type of person who always speaks up and assumes leadership, try making room for other people to contribute. Alternatively, if you’re the type of person who tends to be quiet in group settings, we encourage you to share your voice.
We are all where we are supposed to be. Our community represents a wide range of gender, racial, economic, ethnic, and religious identities and experiences. We celebrate and value this diversity. If you ever find yourself unsure of why someone is in the space they are in, be it a workshop or a restroom, trust that they are in the right place.
Honor everyone's contribution. We all add something to the conversation, and we are all uniquely necessary to this work.
Why Doesn’t CJJ Advocate a Position on Israel and Palestine?
We at Carolina Jews for Justice organize in the Jewish tradition of “doykait” or “hereness;” we take responsibility for the wellness of the communities in which we live. We believe that it is important for us to have a space, as a North Carolina Jewish community, to work together on urgent matters of justice here in our home even as we hold varying beliefs on Israel and Palestine.
We organize on issues that enable us to have the greatest impact on the conditions of our state, communities, and neighbors. We see the American Jewish community as an important, permanent part of this country’s social justice fabric. North Carolina is our home, and we want to see our Jewish community raise a loud call for tzedek (justice) on our doorstep.
Within the CJJ community, you will find a wide array of beliefs and perspectives, ranging from Zionist to anti-Zionist, as well as people who have no opinion on Zionism at all. We value this diversity, and seek to cultivate an environment where all people are welcome and where differences and conflict are navigated with respect and compassion.
We do not draw lines in the sand excluding people from our community based on their international political positions, nor do we apply litmus tests on who we will or will not organize with. We do not believe that we have to agree with each other or with our allies on everything in order to work together. We seek to be inclusive because we need every one of us to build the change needed here in North Carolina.
The purpose of these policies is to magnify our collective voice, to enable us to offer an activist home to all who are committed to working on issues of social justice here in North Carolina from a grounding in our Jewish values. We invite you to join us in this holy work.