Civil Rights and Liberties
We believe that when any group of people is treated wrongly, everyone in our nation is harmed. There is no such thing as justice for some. When the rights of some are trampled, the rights of all are compromised.
We understand the stunning legal attacks on immigrants that have passed in a number of states and localities in the past few years, including attacks on immigrants’ basic rights, as a threat to the civil liberties of all Americans.
We also believe that it is essential for Jews to work across lines of race and faith in partnership with people struggling under unjust conditions — those most affected by social and economic inequality. Deep and authentic alliances with our nation’s diverse communities are the backbone of our work, and exemplify the richness of a pluralistic society.
When we work in solidarity with others they encounter an expression of Jewish tradition that can shatter assumptions and alter conceptions. For example, in 2011 Jews in our Southern California region stood with members of Temecula’s Muslim community who were under attack for planning to build a mosque. We travelled twice to the city to show Jewish support at city council hearings on the project, resulted in hugs and laughter between people from two groups who might otherwise be mistrustful. Our members were also very moved when a Muslim man at one of the hearings got up and thanked the Jewish community — in Hebrew.
Criminal justice reform is an important part of our work in Los Angeles. Our criminal justice committee is part of a coalition working to challenge the racial and economic bias of the criminal justice system. We are also preparing our members to take action on prison sentencing reform and the abolition of the death penalty, which we expect to be on the statewide ballot this year.
We have long been active in support of marriage equality. We mobilized Jews throughout California to oppose Proposition 8 and helped produce a 78 percent Jewish vote in favor of marriage equality and civil rights for all. In 2009, we urged the California Supreme Court, in an amicus or “friend of the court” brief, to strike down proposition 8. Our members and staff were deeply gratified by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in February of 2011 finding the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
Yearning to Breathe Free: Just and Fair Immigration Reform
Our immigration system is broken, serving neither immigrant families nor the interests of our country, and fixing it is an economic and a moral imperative. Common sense immigration reform is, and should be, a priority for the Jewish community. For many people, our own immigrant stories are still fresh in our family’s collective memory. And the Jewish collective memory speaks to our people as immigrants from the moment Abram was called to “Go forth from your homeland” and down through the millennia.