Jews United for Justice in Washington, DC and Jewish Community Action in St. Paul have affiliated with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership or Justice, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston.
The three organizations, which arose independently of each other, each have a history of organizing Jews within their respective communities in support of better wages, affordable housing, workers’ rights, marriage equality, anti-bias and fair immigration laws, and other polices that promote economic opportunity and equality and strengthen civil rights. By affiliating, the organizations will strengthen their ability to support each other in local campaigns and engage the Jewish community nationally in pursuit of domestic policy goals.
“Though each of us pride ourselves on being responsive to the needs of our local community, our organizations share models for solidarity-based community organizing, leadership development and grounding local efforts in Jewish tradition,” said Jacob Feinspan, Executive Director of Jews United for Justice. “We’re going to take what has been most effective in cities where we work and replicate it in other places. So, for example, Bend the Arc is embarking on a progressive taxation campaign in the Bay Area, and since JUFJ won a similar campaign last year in DC, we are able to share tactics and messaging with them. Building on our shared successes, we will create a powerful locally-grounded, nationally-linked network that will innovate and replicate lessons learned and victories earned across the country.”
“This is about building power within the Jewish community so that we can be highly effective advocates for the priorities the vast majority of Jews identify with in this country – an economy that works for everyone and a government that creates opportunity by helping to make the basics – education, health care, and good jobs – widely available,” said Alan van Capelle, Chief Executive Officer of Bend the Arc. “These affiliations are an important step in the movement we’re building to engage Jews all over the country in turning the tide on domestic policy.”
“Jewish Community Action is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from our partners, share our best practices and work together on national campaigns” said Vic Rosenthal, Executive Director of Jewish Community Action. “We can use the lessons of local campaigns to move a progressive agenda at the national level. Through organizing, training and collaboration, JCA is excited to build a more powerful Jewish voice for economic, social and racial justice.”
“The challenges we face today are profound,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and a Bend the Arc board member. “Rights we once thought secured are badly eroded. There is an alarming meanness in our national discourse that we see reflected in attacks on America’s most successful anti-poverty programs, and a barrage of anti-immigrant laws. There is an urgent need for an effective Jewish response in countering these trends, and the affiliation of these organizations will significantly further those efforts.”
“Each of these organizations has a strong commitment to engaging the Jewish community in pressing social and economic justice issues of our time,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn of the Nathan Cummings Foundation. “Enhancing their ability to work in tandem is a real step forward, especially right now when the disparities of our time call upon Jews to act boldly, and to make our voices heard on the critical issues we face as a nation.”
“One of the reasons that Rebuild the Dream has partnered with Bend the Arc is because it’s an organization that works to ensure individuals and communities are at the center of determining their own future,” said Van Jones, founder of Rebuild the Dream, which worked with Bend the Arc last year to educate Americans about socially responsible banking and investment. “It’s exciting to see the growing commitment of outstanding Jewish organizations like these to working together to create what most Americans want – a fair economy that offers real opportunity to all people.”
“We believe that the Jewish community has a critical role to play in helping to solve America’s problems,” said van Capelle. “American Jews are tied together by a deeply held commitment to furthering social and economic justice. Twenty-first Century polls continue to confirm what our families have known for generations: the vast majority of American Jews across the spectrum from atheist to secular to every kind of observant consider pursuing justice and caring for others the key to their Jewish identity.”
“The decision to affiliate expresses our organizations’ commitment to act in concert in growing the American Jewish economic and social justice movement of which we are part,” said Rosenthal. “It’s no accident that each of our organizations has a commitment to working across lines of race, class and faith to make our communities better places to live and to help hold America to its promise. Through this new partnership we will learn from each other’s experience, collaborate in developing and executing effective strategies that further our goals, work together on campaigns, share programs and organizing methods, and fundraise together, as appropriate.”
“A lot of trust has been built among our organizations and we’ve collaborated on some campaigns,” said Feinspan. “Over the past decade, the aggregated power of local and regional campaigns for economic justice and equality repeatedly has driven national change. Local campaigns for a living wage laid the groundwork for increases in the federal minimum wage, Massachusetts’ healthcare reform launched the national healthcare reform victory, and state-level hate crimes laws created the drumbeat for national policy change.”
As part of the affiliation, Jews United for Justice and Jewish Community Action will nominate members to Bend the Arc’s board.