The Social Justice Vision at Stephen S. Wise Temple

Our congregation will see Social Justice as a calling that derives from our sense of God and the imperative of Jewish Tradition. The Stephen S. Wise Temple community will use our influence, power and compassion to be a force for positive, meaningful and effective change in the quality of life on behalf of all the citizens of Los Angeles and the world.


Friday, June 24, 2011

There's Strength In Numbers and in Networks

In the Jewish tradition it is often said that someone "makes Shabbes for him/herself" when that person fails to collaborate effectively with others in the community.  We on the Education Advocacy Team at Stephen S. Wise Temple recognize that the effectiveness of our advocacy is directly dependent on the networking that we achieve with other organizations.   We have partnered with a number of organizations who share our commitment to the cause of meaningful Education Reform.
1) PICO California and LA Voice -- PICO California is heavily involved in advocating for a state budget that reflects the best of what our state can be and can become.  See their website here
2) Educate our State -- a grass roots organization of parents from across our great state speaking out for change in our schools.  Visit their site here
3) The Parents' Association at Lanai Road Elementary School.  See their website here.  The parents at Lanai are among the most active in the state working for reform.  They are developing an advocacy program -- stay tuned for more news.
4) In addition, we continue to keep the lines of communication open with our School Board members Steve Zimmer and Tamar Galatzan.
5) A few of us joined with clergy and laypeople at a PICO California at a rally on the Capital Steps in Sacramento to lobby for a budget that protects the vital services our state provides including education.
6) We also visited Assemblyman Cameron Smyth's office in Santa Clarita to let him know that maintaining current revenue levels is essential for California's budgeting.

7) See this video to hear the students and parents of Milikan Middle school raise their voices for continued funding levels for Education.  This one's a little dramatic, but it makes the point! Click here.
8) Send a letter to your legislative representatives to protect higher level education funding.  Click here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Latest Activity on the Budget Battle -- The PICO California Clergy Letter

 The following was sent to me by Zach Hoover (Exec Dir of PICO LA).  It describes the efforts by PICO to advocate for our legislators to provide solutions not obstacles.  The Board of Rabbis (as you can see below) has endorsed the clergy letter which you can see at the web site referenced in Zach's note. 

Dear clergy and religious leaders,
> As you know, the state budget crisis threatens our schools, elderly, and poor. It also threatens resources for some of your local organizing campaigns (violence reduction, housing, health care, etc.). As PICO CA, we are striving to amplify the voice of clergy and religious (nuns) across the state who believe that our leadership ought to be doing something differently for all of our sake. At this website you will find a clergy sign-on letter. Please add your name. Please invite your friends who are clergy / religious leaders to add their names. They only need to live in CA, not be part of a PICO organization. All are welcome. The goal is 2000 signatures, I believe.
> Kudos to Rabbi Ron Stern who successfully got the endorsement of the 300 member board of SoCal rabbis for the letter and is doing outreach within his circle to gather individual signatures from that membership. This can be a simple, powerful way to connect others to our work as LA Voice. Let me know if you need any support on this.
> Lastly, there is an action in Sacramento planned for June 14th. Over 500 people turned out for an Action in a Modesto swing vote district last night. A few of you are planning on attending already. The Sacramento Action is to raise the volume more and pressure on our state leaders to resolve the crisis (details in the letter online). A few of you are planning on attending already. This is for clergy and lay leaders. Additionally, there may be a small delegation that day of high level clergy to meet with the Governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly (both parties). This would mean bishops, regional, or denominational leaders, high leadership Rabbis and Imams--let me know who might be appropriate representatives you think we could invite together. Details on this are forthcoming.
> Below, for more info, please read the current plan on impacting the crisis and positioning our organizations to shape the fiscal future of California in the coming 18 months.

Clergy Outreach: In order to broaden clergy relationships and deepen our presence within the critical swing districts of the central valley, our brothers and sisters in the Central Valley have asked that clergy leaders outside of the region reach out to their denominational colleagues in Lodi, Modesto, Ceres, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Merced. The goal of this outreach is twofold: to encourage and invite new clergy to sign on to the clergy letter and to invite them to attend an upcoming event in Sacramento as a way of introducing them to PICO and our local PICO federations in the Central Valley. The Central Valley will remain a critical vote area for the foreseeable future.
            Tuesday, June 14: Faith rally in Sacramento 

Campaign for California Worship Services: To lift up a strong and united faith voice and to build turnout for the June 14 faith action in Sacramento we encourage every PICO congregation in California to highlight our response to the state budget crisis during worship services the weekend of June 4 and 5. This would also be a key time to sign up people to participate in our June 14th action.  Pulpit and bulletin announcements will be forthcoming. (Let me know if you want to do something like this so we can work on any material you need).

Clergy Leadership on longer term Tax & Fiscal Reform: Participation in this short-term state revenue campaign and our Faith Action on the 14th of June will lay the foundation for our future collective work on tax & fiscal policy reform within California. We would like to identify a team of clergy to play a leadership role on the 14th and eventually within our longer term work on tax & fiscal policy in California. We ask that you invite 1-2 clergy who may have an interest in creating solutions to our state's structural problems to represent your federation for our June 14th action. (Ryan is currently participating on these calls, but there is room for more).
One final note—we are being very intentional about reaching out to clergy and faith-based organizations around the state to join sign on to the clergy letter. We view this as a document of California's broad faith community and to that end will be contacting Gamaliel and IAF about partnering with us on this.  If you have local relationships with other faith-based organizations that are not part of PICO (organizing or otherwise), we encourage you to do the same.

Min. Zachary Hoover
Executive Director, LA Voice
an affiliate of the PICO National Network