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Social Justice Initiative

As I wrote in my April Newsletter column, the Board of Trustees has adopted a Social Justice Policy to guide the Temple in meeting one of the core principles of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ, recently wrote “….although one can certainly love Torah and follow different political paths, one cannot claim to be a lover of Torah and not care about how our society treats those in need, the weak, the vulnerable, the stranger and the oppressed.” I wanted to share with you a brief summary of the Policy provided by the Task Force that was established by the Board to develop a Social Justice Initiative. A copy of the Policy can be found on the Temple website or by clicking on the hyperlink here.

--Stacey Chervin Sigda

The mission statement for the Social Justice initiative is as follows:

Drawing inspiration and obligation from our sacred Jewish texts and from the teachings of the Reform Movement, we are committed to:
• Bringing together LT members based on shared interests and concerns about the state of our world, from local to global.
• Educating ourselves and each other about the range of perspectives on a given issue of justice, from Jewish wisdom to policy experts and other relevant sources.
• Organizing collective action and advocacy to address root causes of social injustice and to build a more fair and righteous society.

As people of faith, we find reason to bring our values into the public arena.

LT’s initiative will be led by the Social Justice Leadership Group that will be initially selected by the Task Force; and thereafter by the Leadership Group itself. In each case the selection process would seek representatives reflecting the diversity of the congregation. The members of the Leadership Group will have term limits to encourage greater participation and avoid self -perpetuation. A member of the clergy will act as an advisor to the Leadership Group.

The Leadership Group will seek input from the congregation in deciding what issues to explore and positions to be adopted. Issues (and related policies and positions) will be limited to those developed by URJ and the Religious Action Center of the URJ unless the Board/Executive Committee approves, and each issue will be supported by its own sub-committee to organize related programs.

The Policy also provides that there are several guiding principles that are critical to the success of LT’s Social Justice Initiative:

(a) The initiative will act independently of the Board/Executive Committee but with their oversight.
(b) Open communication with the congregation.
(c) Respect for diversity of views both of overall Initiative and particular
issue.

To read the full Social Justice Initiative Policy, click here.

To help launch the initiative the Task Force has arranged for a two-part training workshop with the Religious Action Center (May 24 & 30) to learn about congregation-based social justice advocacy and organizing work and hear how other synagogues have helped support greater justice.

If you are interested in learning more about how to make an impact through the Social Justice Initiative, please join us for the training sessions. In addition, if you have any questions or comments, please contact any member of the Task Force.

William Haft
Rabbi Bethie Miller
Jennifer Mitchell
Michael Nathan
Lynn Reichgott
Robert Rothman