7 Cities, 7 Organizing Stories: Jews for Black Lives

7 Cities, 7 Organizing Stories: Jews for Black Lives

July 08, 2020

When future generations ask what we did in the civil rights fight of our times, we’ll say we showed up as Jews and allies to fight for a world where all of us are safe and free.

Building capable, visionary leaders is foundational to successful organizing — when you invest in leadership development, you're part of the bedrock of this movement.

Here are organizing stories from 7 cities — Milwaukee, Portland, Louisville, Memphis, Cincinnati, Long Island, and Los Angeles — where Jews and allies are rising up for Black lives.

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice runs an organizing program called the Jeremiah Fellowship, which is turning that energy into action. Jeremiah Fellows in 14 cities are growing Moral Minyans (Bend the Arc local groups) to create a political home for local Jewish organizing.

Planning safe actions and mobilizing Jewish communities:

In Milwaukee, over 100 people showed up for “Milwaukee Jews for Black Lives Matter” — a Shabbat in the park planned by our Milwaukee Jeremiah Fellows with sign-making, speakers, and learning about the Milwaukee Moral Minyan. On Sunday, many attendees kept up the momentum with a powerful march carrying their newly created artwork through the streets.

In Portland, OR, Jeremiah Fellows put together a powerful pre-protest Juneteenth Shabbat service. Over 50 people showed up to connect, sing, and eat challot that fellows baked for each participant. They joined the local protest after grounding in a Shabbat service focused on the meaning of Juneteenth and the importance of fighting for Black liberation.

When you donate $18 to Bend the Arc, it supports local organizing work across the country, including the development of local Jewish leaders in their communities.


Building a political home for Jews and allies:

Louisville Jeremiah Fellows kept up the momentum from their successful sign-on effort supporting Black Lives Matter Louisville with their first community meeting! And, they’re making a zine to engage the Jewish community and others in political education — focusing on ways to take action in this moment.

In Memphis, Jeremiah Fellows led a text bank to extend an eviction moratorium, building support to ensure that everyone in Tennessee can truly be “safer at home.”

Jeremiah Fellows in Cincinnati planned a virtual Jews for Black Lives Havdalah and sign-making gathering. They were joined by 25 members of the community to get to know one another, ground protest in Jewish values, and make signs at home about protesting Jewishly. The next day, a fellow and her mom joined the Cincinnati March for Racial Justice II.

“We’ve been looking for a progressive Jewish community!” is what community members are sharing with Jeremiah Fellows.

Donate today to fund progressive Jewish organizing in key cities around the country in this moment and beyond.

Defunding police at the local level:

Part of local organizing is choosing campaigns to work on. We’re cheering on Bend the Arc leaders on Long Island who will be supporting the work of New York Communities for Change to defund police locally.

Leaders in Southern California, following the leadership of and in coalition with Black Lives Matter - LA, are demanding a People’s Budget in Los Angeles to divest from police and invest in reimagined community safety. And they’re already seeing wins, including a new practice of unarmed non-police response to non-violent emergency calls!

In Cincinnati, Jeremiah Fellows followed the calls of Mass Action for Black Liberation Cincinnati and launched a texting campaign to drive calls to City Council to urge them to defund the police. Plus, Fellows wrote and delivered testimony at a public City Council hearing about why they support defunding the police and investing in Black communities as Jews.

Thank you for reading this far about the work of our incredible Jeremiah Fellows, and for supporting these young visionary leaders who are mobilizing Jewish communities around the country in this moment, and for years to come.

In solidarity,

Carrie Sterns
Jeremiah Fellowship National Director

PS: Young Jewish adults are building an infrastructure for progressive Jewish organizing around the country. Support this work with a gift of $18 today.

The Jeremiah Fellowship is a program of Bend the Arc: A Partnership for Jewish Justice