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Interfaith Organizing

Since summer 2020 members of BK our rabbis have been working with a coalition of Essex County clergy and lay leaders to launch an Essex County chapter of New Jersey Together. We learned about the issues that matter most to our communities through a listening campaign. Based on what was reported, we are organizing a broad-based advocacy coalition that will work for change on the most pressing issues facing our communities.

Our BK team brought this effort to the congregation at a Zoom meeting in January 2021. An interesting collection of issues and concerns were raised at that meeting including housing access, education, policing practices, and food insecurity We had a strong BK showing at NJ Together’s official county-wide listening launch in March. BK followed up with a joint listening session between our congregation and members of Bethany Baptist, Newark, and then a joint BBQ between our communities in October 2021.

Although a lot of the themes that emerged overlap with each other, we put the three biggest issues that came up for us at BK into the categories of education, affordable housing, and racism/criminal justice, with mental health closely behind as another issue that is important to our community. For example, we heard that you have family members who struggle to find affordable housing in Essex County, that food and housing insecurity are barriers to a diverse and equitable community, and that we need access to mental health care for adults and kids during the pandemic. You can see the results in detail here.

What is so incredible is that these issues also rose to the top for other Essex County congregations and organizations, several of whom also prioritized the environment, which we know to be an issue close to the hearts of many at BK as well.

New Jersey Together Essex will be moving forward around issues of affordable housing and criminal justice, education and mental health, and green jobs and green spaces. These opening actions are not an end but a beginning. We are developing a diverse interfaith team and building capacity to make change around issues you care about.

Mon, September 26 2022 1 Tishrei 5783