JCA Announces the Tzedek Institute: bringing our community together for social change

This is a guest post by Kami Hall, Jewish Community Action’s new Communications and Development Associate. Kami brings passion for social justice issues and embraces the concept of lifelong learning. She is currently pursuing a master of gender & women’s studies degree at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Minnesotans are at a crossroads.
We face thousands of foreclosures, wage stagnation and high unemployment. The number of children living in poverty has risen 53% since the year 2000. The black jobless rates are over three times the white jobless rates, giving Minnesota the largest gap in the nation. Middle class families face uncertainty about how they’ll put their kids through college, home values have decreased, retirement benefits are unpredictable, costs of caring for aging parents has increased. We also have an unprecedented state deficit and little room to discuss how to solve this problem equitably.
Jewish Community Action asked tough questions: How do we want to put our Jewish values into practice to help address these challenges? What role will we play in shaping a future that is better for all of us, one that is more fair, just and equitable? Our response was to form the Tzedek Institute.
Jewish Community Action is proud to announce the Tzedek Institute – a community organizing approach to bringing the Jewish community together to solve tough challenges of our time, while strengthening our own community and our relationships with other communities.
Jewish Community Action will partner with local synagogues and unaffiliated individuals to offer high-quality intensive community organizing training and ongoing support for organizing both inside and outside of congregations. The first phase of the Tzedek Institute will begin in September with training, lasting until early December. Synagogues will have between one and three representatives in this learning and leadership cohort, and these representatives will lead the second phase, which will focus on building a powerful network of Jews and taking action in the community on issues we care deeply about.
We believe this process will allow us to make real progress in many distinct issue areas, address serious injustices, introduce us to unique partnerships across lines of race and faith, position the Jewish community as a leader in social justice, and invigorate and energize congregations and community members.
In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “The true standard by which to gauge a culture is the extent to which reverence, compassion, justice are to be found in the daily lives of a whole people, not only in the acts of isolated individuals.”

Join Jewish Community Action as we develop and sustain a large network of Twin Cities Jews to seek justice and build strength together. For more information, contact Melissa Rudnick at (651) 632-2184 or [email protected]. Visit our website at www.jewishcommunityaction.org.

(Photo: Scott*)