Southern California Newsletter
A note from Rabbi-in-Residence, Aryeh Cohen
The book of Exodus opens with a bracing announcement: “A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.” Jacob and his family — the tribes which eventually became the people of Israel — had been comfortably ensconced in Goshen, living under the protection of the Pharaoh. Joseph, son of Jacob, was a viceroy and his access guaranteed safety to the family. Then, suddenly, the Pharaoh died and a new Pharaoh arose. Its obvious that the new Pharaoh would have known who Joseph was — he had been the second most important person in Egypt. However, he decided that Joseph’s access to the royal house was no longer beneficial, or he just didn’t like Joseph. Whatever the reason, the new Pharaoh no longer acknowledged Joseph. Joseph’s access was shut down. This led to the horrors of slavery for all of Israel.
We are now living in a time of “a new king.” The progressive Jewish community had a modicum of access to President Obama and his administration. However, access does not always guarantee power — or justice. Perhaps we even got too comfortable, mistook access for power. Now it is clear that President Trump does not know us. In these times we must all be like Moses. We need to go out amongst our people, as Moses did, see their struggle, make it our struggle and together defeat the Pharaoh. This is our communal task. Be strong and courageous. There are many ways to resist President Trump's agenda with Bend the Arc: Southern California. We hope you join us soon.
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Southern California Rabbi-in-Residence
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Lay leaders from around the country have taken action to resist President Trump's Administration’s agenda by organizing calls to key Senators to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, hosting and participating in community meetings, and meeting with elected officials in key districts. Want to join them? Fill out our survey to let us know how you want to contribute to the Jewish resistance with us.
In reaction to the Muslim Ban, leaders from Southern California joined a prayer vigil at City Hall which preceded a City Council Immigration Committee meeting. We co-sponsored the action with CHIRLA, CLUE, SEIU 720, and others. The prayer vigil and our presence was covered in several media outlets. The next day, leaders joined a vigil that we co-sponsored with the VigilantLOVE coalition at the Japanese American Cultural Center. The action drew parallels between President Trump's executive orders and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Several Bend the Arc leaders joined thousands of Angelenos at LAX to protest the Muslim Ban and to demand that detainees being held at the airport be let into the country. All folks detained that weekend were released that Sunday night, but the issue is still urgent.
2016 Victories: Policy, Elections, and more!
- We Got Out the Vote in California: As part of a large statewide coalition with LA Voice and other partners, Bend the Arc: Southern California leaders had 2,101 conversations with infrequent voters in Los Angeles County. This was part of an effort that reached 650,000 infrequent voters across California. We were working to pass Prop 55 - Progressive Taxation, Prop 57 - Juvenile Justice Reform, LA City’s Measure HHH to build and create more permanent supportive housing, and Measure JJJ to create more affordable, transit oriented housing and good construction jobs. We won all of these ballot measures with a huge margin!
- We Spread the Word about Our Voter Guide: Lay leaders produced a Jewish, progressive voter guide for all 17 statewide measures in California. We distributed 20,734 voter guides online and offline across the state.
- Criminal Justice Reform Campaigns Committee: Lay leaders worked to pass SB 1143 to limit juvenile room confinement to four hours at a time and reform the practice. We helped push this bill over the finish line — and it was signed into law this year! We also won the LA City Fair Chance Ordinance along with our coalition partners. This ordinance ensures that employers don’t ask about criminal history or background until a conditional offer of employment has been made.
- Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Committee: Lay leaders have been working with a large coalition to pass a Los Angeles city-wide linkage fee. This would create a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by placing a fee on new development.
Festival of Rights and Jeremiah Graduation
On Tuesday, December 13, we gathered to honor our graduating Jeremiah Fellowship cohort and celebrate the Hanukkah season with our annual Festival of Rights. It was a moving and celebratory evening. Mazal tov, Jeremiahs!
Upcoming Event: An Evening of Jewish Identity Exploration
On February 28th at 7pm at Temple Beth Am, Bend the Arc: Southern California is joining Be'chol Lashon and Beth Chayim Chadashim, and Temple Beth Am for an entertaining, interactive program exploring the multiplicity of Jewish identity. We are delighted to welcome special guest Joshua Silverstein, an award winning actor, comedic writer, beatboxer, educator and bi-racial Jew. This program is geared toward adults and teens. For more info, contact Lia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Action with Bend the Arc
- Join the Criminal Justice Reform Campaigns Committee to tackle the issue of money bail reform on the state level.
- Join the Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Committee to work on ballot measures in the March election (Yes on H; No on S - we will be sharing more information via email about these measures soon) and the city-wide linkage fee.
To get involved, email Regional Organizer Anjuli at email@example.com.
Thank you for all you do,
Anjuli Kronheim Katz, Regional Organizer
Aryeh Cohen, Rabbi-in-Residence
Joellyn Wilken Weingourt, Senior Development Officer