How Does Prop 47 Connect to Jewish Values and Jewish People?
The traditional Haggadah read every Passover reminds us, “In each and every generation, a person is required to view the story of leaving slavery as his or her own story.”
As Jews, we remember our history of oppression, and our long involvement in civil rights struggles. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, reminds us that, “Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings… In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
The current system of incarceration tells a story of oppression and racism that is deeply rooted in the U.S. slave trade and carries on to this day. As Jews, we must not only recognize that oppression, but act responsibly to address and change this deep injustice.
Writing about the tradition of reflection prior to the Jewish New Year, Bend the Arc’s CEO Stosh Cotler wrote in a Washington Post Commentary:
“As Jews, entering this month of repentance and reflection, we must ask ourselves: What am I doing to heal the wounds of racism our country still bears? What am I doing to create the world we want?”
More information and reflections on Prop 47 and Jewish Values:
- Prop 47: A Jewish Imperative, an info sheet prepared by Bend the Arc's Criminal Justice Reform campaign team
- Ferguson/Fargesn, by Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, delivered at Congregation Netivot Shalom for Rosh Hashanah 5775
- Shoeless Shabbat and the Mitzvah to Protect the Vulnerable, by Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, Congregation Shearith Israel