UPCOMING SOCIAL JUSTICE PROGRAMS
RAC-PA Training Workshop on Sept. 14:
How to Register New Voters Using Canvassing
In 2020, 2.3 million Pennsylvanians eligible to vote didn’t register. Using canvassing to contact people eligible to vote who aren’t registered is one of the most effective ways to change this. That’s why RAC-PA is teaming up with New PA Project Education Fund. By participating, we at Beth David can do our part to ensure the voice and vote of every eligible voter in PA is heard this fall.
To take the first step, attend a training workshop New PA Project Education Fund is leading on September 14, 7:00-9:00 p.m., on Zoom. You’ll obtain all the information and tools needed to register voters, and create a plan to canvass with other RAC-PA supporters. Register at rac.org/RAC-PA-canvassing-training.
Questions about Beth David’s participation in RAC-PA’s EVEV campaign? Want to help lead our efforts? Contact Sandy Portnoy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Fellow Beth David Members As We Participate in RAC-PA’s Every Voice Every Vote Campaign
In the 2020 election, 2.9 million eligible voters in PA didn’t vote. That’s almost one-in-three Pennsylvanians eligible to vote! Reform congregations across PA are coming together to do something about this by participating in the nonpartisan RAC-PA Every Voice Every Vote campaign.
The Beth David community will be playing a major role in the campaign. Our efforts will likely include postcard writing, tabling events to register voters, phone banking, canvassing, working at the polls, poll monitoring, and communicating with Beth David members to achieve a 100% voting record.
If you’re interested in participating in this important work, email Sandy Portnoy (email@example.com) and provide your name, mobile number, email address, and a list of the activities you want to get involved in. And, let Sandy know if you’re interested in chairing one of our subcommittees – one for each activity listed above. Lastly, encourage your partner/spouse and children 17 years or older to join you.
RAC-PA EVEV Campaign Phone Banking
All you need is a computer/tablet and a phone
After Aug. 31, our phone banks will continue every Wednesday and Thursday, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., until Election Day. Training will be provided during every phone bank. Sign up for all of our phone bank events at rac.org/pa-evev-makethecall.
Serve Our Community & Protect Voters’ Right
Be a Poll Worker This Fall
Fair and secure elections are made possible by the thousands of Pennsylvanians who serve as poll workers. It’s personally gratifying to help one’s community and safeguard the right to vote. That’s why inspiring Reform Jews in Pennsylvania to serve as poll workers this Election Day is a top RAC-PA Every Voice Every Vote campaign priority.
We’re partnering with the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, which has created a variety of exceptional resources to prepare people to serve as poll workers. To review these resources, learn about the eligibility requirements and duties of poll workers, and/or sign up to serve, visit LWVPA’s poll worker webpage.
While Election Day is about 80 days away, we encourage you to sign up now, as you must complete poll worker training, and your county election board needs time to determine your placement.
PA Supreme Court Upholds Mail-Voting Law
In a big win for Pennsylvania voters, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Pennsylvania’s mail-voting law (Act 77) is constitutional! The decision overturns a lower-court ruling striking down Act 77 in its entirety, and ensures that all registered voters in PA can choose to vote using a mail ballot.
The court’s action removes a cloud of uncertainty heading into the final 100 days of campaigning before the midterm elections. Here’s what this ruling means for you:
- Registered voters have until November 1 at 5:00 p.m. to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. Applications are being accepted now.The process can be completed online; visit vote.pa.gov for instructions. If you applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot for the May 2022 Primary, you don’t have to apply again for the November 8 General Election.
- Not registered to vote in PA? This process can also be completed online; visit vote.pa.gov for details. Please note that October 24 is the last day to register for the Nov. 8 election.
- If you want to check your voter register status and/or confirm that you’re on the annual mail-in or absentee voter list, which means you don’t have to reapply in order to vote in the 2022 General Election using a mail-in/absentee ballot, visit the PA Department of State’s Voter Services website by clicking here.
- Are you currently or soon to be a college student living away from your home voting district? You can register to vote using your home address, and request a mail ballot be sent to your home or school address. Parents, please make sure your kids are registered to vote and have applied for a mail-in ballot before they go back to school!
Channel Your Outrage
Many Beth David members, and Reform Jews in general, are outraged by the recent rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. Overturning Roe v. Wade, ruling that Americans have a right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense, and rolling back the EPA’s ability to reduce the carbon output of existing power plants, strike at the core of our Reform Jewish values.
One often hears that the best way to channel this outrage is to vote and encourage others to vote. Is this strategy akin to the empty calls for “thoughts and prayers” in response to another tragic school shooting?
Not at all. Poll after poll shows that majorities of Americans support abortion rights, life-saving limits on access to guns, and action to reverse climate change. If only the people who vote were as representative of the population as a scientific random sample. But regrettably, that’s not the case. Because a sizable proportion of Americans believe their ballot and/or their voice doesn’t matter, or are prevented from voting due to voter suppression, one-third or more of eligible voters don’t vote, even in 2020 a year with record voter turnout (66.9%).
So, one major step you can take to fight for the values we hold dear is to get involved in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Every Voice, Every Vote voter engagement campaign. This nationwide campaign focuses on citizens who are the most likely not to vote – People of Color, younger people, and people with disabilities. Campaign participants will have an opportunity to interact directly with unlikely voters through post-carding, phone banking, and canvassing. The campaign is underway; sign up for updates and action alerts at https://rac.org/take-action/every-voice-every-vote.
And later this month, a Pennsylvania-specific version of Every Voice, Every Vote will launch under the direction of RAC-PA. Beth David is helping lead this campaign, which will focus exclusively on unlikely voters in our state. Check our website and Facebook page for the launch announcement. You’re also welcome to reach out to Rabbi Kalisch (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bill Madway (email@example.com) to get involved.
About the Overturn of Roe V. Wade
From Rabbi Kalisch
June 24, 2022
Today’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade is, I know, a devastating ruling for so many of us within the Beth David community.
For many of us, the ruling feels like a crushing setback after many years of activism: of marching, volunteering, and speaking out, often as part of Beth David’s social justice work. Many years ago, before Roe was legal, our Rabbi Emeritus Rabbi Henry Cohen was part of an underground network of clergy that helped women in crisis find safe abortions. I pray that I will never have to do the same, and that abortion will remain legal in Pennsylvania.
Reproductive justice is at its core a deeply personal issue, for so many of us in so many different ways. This winter, Beth David was one of many synagogues across the country that held a Reproductive Justice Shabbat in partnership with the National Council of Jewish Women. We examined the verse in Exodus that is the basis for the Jewish position permitting – and in some instances, to protect the mother’s health, requiring – abortion. But we also shared stories with each other that we rarely tell publicly, of the ways in which abortion has shaped so many of our lives, and the lives of people we love. Because this issue is so personal, today’s ruling is also personal – an attack on our bodies, our families, and our autonomy. Today’s ruling is also very frightening for LGBTQ families, whose rights are also under attack.
During Shabbat services (June 24), we will take space to grieve this loss of fundamental rights and acknowledge our fears, but also to find strength and hope: by coming together, and by taking action. Please join us at 6:30pm for services outside on the back patio, or via Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/810166610). If you see this email before 4 pm today, you can also join an online Jewish Vigil for Abortion Justice being organized by NCJW: https://www.jewsforabortionaccess.org/signup
Here are a few additional steps you might consider taking today:
- Donate to the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access, which will help connected real people who need abortions with the money they need to access care. https://www.jewsforabortionaccess.org/fund
- Contact our governor and state legislators to urge them to protect abortion rights in Pennsylvania, and remind them that is an issue of religious liberty for us as Jews: https://cqrcengage.com/reformjudaism/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=514385
- Get involved in the Reform Movement’s voter engagement campaign, to make sure that every vote counts as the states decide the future of reproductive rights. You can sign up for updates on the national civic campaign at https://rac.org/take-action/every-voice-every-vote, and reach out to me or to Bill Madway (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved in the statewide Pennsylvania voter engagement campaign Beth David is helping to lead as part of RAC-PA.
- Connect with other Beth David members to take action on reproductive justice. Email Helen Bludman (email@example.com) to let her know you want to be involved.
- Read more about the Jewish position on abortion here, and read my essay explaining the divergence of Jewish and Christian views on this issue here.
However today’s ruling touches your life, please know that Cantor Goodlev and I are here for you if we can listen or support you in any way. We will move forward, with hope and with determination.
From Rabbi Kalisch – About Ukraine
At this terrible moment of war in Ukraine, I’ve been thinking a lot about an experience I had 17 years ago that forever changed my understanding of what it means to be connected to Jews around the world. Like many rabbinical and cantorial students (including Cantor Goodlev a few years later!), I had the opportunity to travel to the former Soviet Union to lead Passover seders in emerging Reform Jewish communities there. Together with one classmate and a translator, I was dispatched to central Ukraine, where I led two seders and a Shabbat service for two small Reform congregations, less than 20 miles away from the town where my grandfather was born. I thought I was going to teach, but mostly, what I did was learn: from the amazing community leaders who were rebuilding Jewish life after years of Soviet repression; from the teens who were passionately discovering a heritage their parents knew almost nothing about; from the elderly Buchenwald survivor who held my hands in hers during the seder and described to me how she had escaped; from the little children who roared and tickled me in their best impression of the wild beasts of the 10 Plagues; from the Russian rabbinical student who helped me locate my long-lost cousins in another Ukrainian city, and from those cousins, when I finally met them, who helped me piece together parts of my family history I had never known.
Ukraine may be far away from our little corner of Gladwyne, but what I learned on that trip, most of all, is how deeply we are connected to each other. Many of us in the Beth David community can trace our roots to the land of Ukraine. Yesterday, Cantor Goodlev and I were in touch with members of our Beth David community who grew up in Ukraine and who still have family and beloved friends there, both Jewish and of other backgrounds. If you have family in Ukraine and have not heard from us, please reach out to let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com). And all of us are connected to the only country outside Israel to have both a Jewish president and prime minister, with the fourth-largest Jewish community in Europe. Kol Yisrael aravim zeh bazeh, the Talmud teaches: All Israel – the whole Jewish people – are responsible for one another.
Here are some resources to learn more and to help:
- You can support our family, the Reform Jewish communities in Ukraine through this fund set up by the World Union for Progressive Judaism. You can also watch a Reform Movement briefing with Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny and other leaders of the Reform Jewish community in Ukraine, and read the Reform Movement’s statement condemning the Russian invasion.
- There are many other Jewish organizations supplying much-needed humanitarian aid at this difficult time. You can also support the Jewish community in Ukraine through the JDC (Joint Distribution Committee), a Jewish organization that supports small Jewish communities around the world and rescues Jews in danger. Or you can support HIAS in its work to support refugees of all faiths fleeing Ukraine.
- You can learn more about the history of Jews in Ukraine here and here, read here about how the current crisis is affecting Jewish communities in Ukraine, and here about some of the ways that women are shaping progressive Jewish life in Ukraine in particular.
Rabbi Beth Kalisch
Are you a decarbonizer, someone committed to reducing their carbon footprint?
As part of our desire to encourage environmentalism and sustainability among our congregants, Beth David member Jane Horwitz is trying to find out who the decarbonizers are in our midst? If you or another Beth David member you know self-identify as a trailblazer in this arena, i.e., drive an all-electric vehicle, follow a plant-based diet, have solar panels, etc., please contact Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org.