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TEMPLE BETH-EL TOGETHER WITH JERSEY CITY by: Janice Leslie Hochstat-Greenberg Print E-mail
Written by webmacher   

Temple Beth-El (TBE) of Jersey City takes their obligation to be "fixers" of the world seriously, by promoting social justice. The congregation is a founding member of Jersey City Together (JCT), an interfaith community organizing group founded in 2015 by over thirty congregations. Jersey City Together is a growing broad based, multi-faith organization in Jersey City - developing leaders, strengthening communities, and seeking justice. After a year of listening to what keeps our neighbors up at night the organization decided to initially focus on housing & homelessness, youth opportunities, and police/community relations.

The listening and civic action continues. Veteran community organizer Frank McMillan spearheads Jersey City Together, bringing the power of citizen voices to move city and county officials towards addressing these urgent problems. Recent actions include education about revaluation in Jersey City and property tax appeals, calling major landlords to account, advocating for afterschool programs in at-risk areas, and pushing for repairs to the City's video camera system in high crime areas. Our work is grounded in our Judaism, as Rabbi Debra Hachen, TBE's Rabbi explains. "Working for fairness and opportunity for all in our city is a way for our congregation to live out our values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), B'tzelem Elohim (acknowledging each person's creation in the image of God), and Hillel's admonition - If I am only for myself, what am I? At the same time we are creating deep and authentic relationships with our neighbors of other religions and backgrounds." 

Kay Magilavy, TBE president and active participant on JCT's Housing and Homelessness team, feels the partnership of faith-based groups is a natural. She says, "Our efforts to help the homeless on a one-by-one basis can only scratch the surface. What we need is a shift in our system-wide focus toward affordable housing and even more effective social services." Tom Rosensweet, Co-chair of TBE's Social Action Committee who now serves on the new Steering Committee of Jersey City Together continues "Reform Jews have always worked with those of other faiths to promote social and economic justice. Jersey City Together unites people from many of our diverse communities to promote these values." 

TBE's congregation not only has over a dozen members active in JCT, but opens its doors to host meetings of the organization when needed. Last December, several members of the congregation, including this author, participated in Jersey City Together University (JCTU), a day-and-a-half seminar which provides training to people who are interested in enhancing their community organizing activity for the long run in Jersey City. Temple Beth-El looks forward to continued involvement and collaboration in this dynamic organization. Anyone wishing to obtain further information or to get involved should go to www.njtogether.org or contact JCT at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 201.351.1658.

 
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