During the recent Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Maryland Jews gathered under the sukkah at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville on October 3, to discuss the significance of voting in support of immigrant education rights and marriage equality on Election Day. The gathering was organized by Jews United for Justice, a Washington-area community of Jews of all ages working to act on shared Jewish values by pursuing justice and equality in the community, as part of the national Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.
Sukkot commemorates the annual pilgrimate made during the temple era and is celebrated by dwelling and eating in the sukkah structure.
In partnership with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, Jews United for Justice is working to harness support for two referenda that will appear on the Maryland ballot on November 6. A vote for Question 4, or the Dream Act, will offer undocumented immigrants who graduate high school the opportunity to pay in-state tuition to attend Maryland community colleges, and after two years, to pay in-state tuition at a state college or university. A vote for Question 6 would give same-sex couples the legal right to obtain a civil marriage license in Maryland.
“Jews United for Justice’s volunteers have fanned out across the region to educate and mobilize thousands of Jews at 20 synagogues and communities about the Dream Act and marriage equality,” said Jacob Feinspan, executive director of JUFJ. “Thanks to the work of these dedicated leaders, nearly a dozen rabbis spoke about the issues from the pulpit during the High Holidays, communities are coming together to host speakers and hold phone banks to call undecided voters, and this Sunday, Jewish volunteers will begin canvassing door to door in support of these civil rights issues.”
JUFJ’s campaign to garner votes for Questions 4 and 6 is part of the civic engagement campaign of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, a national network of 25 Jewish social justice organizations.
“Jews United for Justice’s work to build support for Questions 4 and 6 in Maryland, which if passed, would represent major steps forward in increasing education and marriage equality, fit in exactly with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable’s mission to elevate social justice to the center of Jewish life,” said Abby Levine, the roundtable’s director. “Members of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable are working around the country to encourage Jews to get involved in pushing for social justice issues on the ballot this fall.”
Since it was first established in 2009, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable has worked its way from a fledgling network to an influential voice in the Jewish advocacy world whose leaders coalesce around social justice issues such as worker justice, health care, affordable housing, and sustainability and food justice.
The Roundtable currently includes American Jewish World Service, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Hazon, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, Jewish Community Action, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish World Watch, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jews United for Justice, JOIN for Justice, Keshet, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, National Council of Jewish Women, New Israel Fund, BBYO’s Panim Institute, Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Repair the World, Union for Reform Judaism/Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism/Just Congregations, Uri L’Tzedek, and Workmen's Circle.