Statements

CJJ Statement on Expanding Public Transportation (Asheville)

Asheville,

The City Council will be voting on the budget on June 11. CJJ strongly supports a move to expand the public transportation service and an increase of the wages of city workers. Please contact the Council and the City Manager to encourage these changes.

More information on contacting the Council can be found here, and all members can be emailed at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov. Additionally, information on contacting the City Manager can be found here. See the letter below for talking points and a general template.

Originally published May 28, 2019

Dear [Asheville] City Council and City Manager:

Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) is a statewide grassroots network with a local chapter in the West committed to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina through education and advocacy. CJJ applauds your leadership in prioritizing transit in the 2019-2020 proposed budget. We also thank you for prioritizing all students succeeding at Asheville City Schools.

CJJ is asking you to enact the priorities of student success and accessible transit by:

• Extending public transportation service hours until at least 10pm Monday-Saturday and at least 8pm on Sundays. There are 11 public transit bus routes, of the 18 routes, that have their last trip departing between 5:30 and 8:30pm. That means that students or parents who depend on public transportation to return home from academic, athletic, extracurricular, and civic opportunities are often denied access to these opportunities because they don’t have a way to get home. On Saturday nights there are 10 out of 18 routes that stop running after 8:30pm.

• Increasing wages so that all City of Asheville employees make $15/hour. The City of Asheville is one of the top 5 employers in the city; top 7 in the county. We know that poverty can negatively impact student success. Your leadership in increasing the wage floor provides more security for those who work for you and also sets a model for the other major employers in our region. We were pleased to learn from Commissioner Whitesides that Buncombe County has already shown leadership to ensure that any county employee still making under $15/hour will receive a pay increase in the next budget cycle. We hope the city will follow the county's lead on this issue.

These two requests total $3.7 million out of the $190 million spent by the City. We urge you to allocate the funds necessary so that Asheville students, families, and workers having more equitable access to opportunities.

Judy Leavitt

Board President, CJJ West Co-Chair

Statement of Carolina Jews for Justice Regarding Tamika Mallory’s Appearance as Speaker at UNC-A

January 9, 2019 | Carolina Jews for Justice is a grassroots network committed to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina through education and advocacy.  An important part of our mission is to create a community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive of all.  We are dedicated to combatting all forms of racism, religious bigotry, ethnic discrimination, homophobia, and other cases of invidious hatred and prejudice. 

We are aware that a public controversy has arisen over the invitation to Tamika Mallory, a co-leader of the national Women’s March, to be the keynote speaker at the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s observance of the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.  We want to share our position on that issue as Jews committed to the struggle for racial justice as well as to the struggle against anti-Semitism.

Carolina Jews for Justice unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism in any form; through the millennia of our history, we have witnessed how bias can grow into harassment, harassment into violence, and violence into mass murder.  There is no safe amount of anti-Semitism, no tolerable level of it that can be brushed aside.  No one committed to an inclusive society should hesitate to condemn anti-Semitism without reservation; all who express this vile hatred should be held accountable.

Carolina Jews for Justice is also committed to the principles of free expression that are enshrined in the American Constitution and in our common values as residents in a democracy.  Ours is a land of many voices, and the healthy pluralism of our land is well served when we are willing to hear the voices of those with whom we disagree, provided those voices are not inciting violence.  We must not be afraid of robust debate. 

Moreover, just as we abhor prejudice, so must we not ourselves prejudge.  Some have rushed to condemn the University of North Carolina at Asheville both for inviting Tamika Mallory and for refusing to rescind that invitation.  Some have characterized Ms. Mallory as an anti-Semite and as a supporter of a more notorious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan.  We do not pretend to know the full extent of Ms. Mallory’s views.  She has written that she believes that “as historically oppressed people, Blacks, Jews, Muslims and all people must stand together to fight racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”  We agree with that statement.  The Women’s March that she co-leads explicitly includes Jewish women among the victimized categories listed in its Unity Principles, and the leaders have also stated that “emphatically we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.”  We welcome this statement. 

We also welcome the opportunity, which the University has arranged, for members of Asheville’s Jewish community to sit in dialogue with Ms. Mallory and to hear each other’s viewpoints, without prejudging.  We are committed to investigating the ways in which racism and antisemitism are intersecting at this time, and looking for opportunities to overcome these oppressions together, and so we will be represented at that meeting.   In keeping with our Jewish tradition’s openness to inquiry, we will ask Ms. Mallory questions and will expect to answer hers, and we hope and expect that we all will learn from the dialogue.  

Honoring the traditional Jewish mandates to pursue justice and to repair the world, we strive to build bridges of understanding and communication both within our Jewish community and beyond.  We work with diverse partners to create a just, democratic, and respectfully pluralistic society.  That work requires that we reach across the illusory barriers of faith, race, gender, and wealth to bring to reality our vision of a pluralistic society that benefits everyone.  We hope to build trust across those barriers, and hold each other accountable to our deepest commitments to work towards a multiracial, multi-faith, democratic America.

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In Response to the Tree of Life Shooting: A Statement from the CJJ Board

Carolina Jews for Justice leaders and members are heartbroken and shocked by the shooting that occurred this Shabbat at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This is a moment of deep pain not only for that congregation’s immediate community, but for us, the entire Jewish people, and our country.
 
One traditional Jewish response to news of a death is “baruch dayan ha’emet,” directly translated as “blessed is the true judge.” While there are many ways to understand these words, tonight we lean into an interpretation that centers our human inability to process, to think, or to rationalize in a moment like this one. Our brains are overwhelmed, and our hearts are flooded with sadness. There are no words or prayers that will explain away this trauma, or heal it.
 
But at the same time, these traditional words call on us to judge this situation truthfully and clearly. This was an act of violent antisemitism and white supremacy, and that truth needs to be stated clearly. This feels personal, but is also part of the pattern of tragedies enacted by violent men with access to military weaponry. Unless as Jewish people and as a country we are willing to put serious work into combatting white nationalism and toxic masculinity, while also working for comprehensive gun control, we know that we will see moments like these again.  
 
The shooter today hoped to put an end to our people’s long history of welcoming refugees and caring for the disenfranchised members of our communities. Instead of being scared from this work, we call on our fellow Jews to hold each other in this moment of mourning, and then join us in recommitting to the pursuit of justice.