On Sunday, January 12, over seventy local activists gathered together for JUFJ’s 2020 Community Meeting. During the event, JUFJ leader Scott Goldstein shared that on his great-grandmother’s grave are inscribed the following words: “The people will win.” The community meeting reminded me that we are links in a long chain of Jewish advocates for social justice. From our ancient values to our recent ancestors, we are walking together on a path towards a better society for all.
During the event we discussed two of JUFJ’s nine Jewish values. They are guiding posts for the work that we do throughout the year:
Tzelem Elohim: We Are Created in the Divine Image.
In 2020 JUFJ will be working on two core campaigns in DC: Under 3 DC and Racial Equity. The JUFJ Campaign Fund is also supporting primary candidates for DC Council. These campaigns work to address some of the many gaps in racial and economic equality throughout the city. Under 3 DC is building pressure on the mayor and city council to fully fund the Birth To Three for All DC Act, which provides a platform for every child in DC to have a strong start in life by investing in early childhood education and healthy child development. The Racial Equity Core Team is working with two coalitions to support progressive policy solutions to break down racial barriers. Together these campaigns reinforce the idea of “tzelem elohim,” that we all have inherent value and rights and that our systems should reinforce them.
Lo alecha ham’lacha ligmor v’lo atah ven chorin l’hbatel mimenah: It is not incumbent on us to complete the work, but neither can we desist from it.
The year 2020 can seem overwhelming. It is a turning point for so much of the work that we believe in. However, there is positive momentum here in DC that gives me hope for the future. “It is very, very hard for people to live here if they are not extremely wealthy. We just are not going in the right direction. Here in 2020 we can make that change,” said one community member, reminding us that we have the power to push politicians down the right path.
I left the community meeting feeling inspired and ready to take action for a new DC, one where people’s well-being is put over the interests of profit, where every family has access to the care and resources they need, and where our systems work for all of the city’s residents, not just the wealthy and privileged. I hope you will join me in this work – there are many ways to get involved, from donating to advocating to voting. Together we can continue the work that has taken place from generation to generation and do our best to ensure that it is the people who win.
Annie Rosenthal (she/her/hers) is a member of JUFJ’s DC Leadership Council, a JUFJ DC Jeremiah Fellowship alumna, and current co-chair of the Under Three core team.