Detroit Jews for Justice was founded by Congregation T’chiyah to live out their mission of making social change central to the life of their congregation and committed to being a social justice organization owned by the entire Jewish community of Metro Detroit. The position of Rabbi/Community Organizer was developed to best serve our unique vision and to bring this vision to life in our region.
Selma Dinner and Discussion
What We Do:
Detroit Jews for Justice (DJJ) employs the tools of community organizing to make life in Michigan more sustainable, equitable and joyous for all, with a particular emphasis on people of color, low-income workers, the unemployed, women, GLBTIQ folks, immigrants, and others struggling against systemic bias. We draw on the richness of Jewish traditions, history, beliefs and culture to deepen and sustain our work.
How We Work:
Through education, leadership development, grassroots campaigns, community-building and arts and culture, DJJ renews the Jewish ethic of working for social justice. Our goal is to build a membership base that can participate in meaningful ways in campaigns addressing injustice at the systemic level, and also mobilize in response to timely issues. We use the strength of old relationships and the dynamism of new ones to support each other to step up and become active.
Why Do Justice?
There are lots of different reasons why people work for social justice. For those in the Jewish community who are directly impacted by racial and economic inequality, the motivation may stem from self-interest. Others do this work because they know that an unequal society is an unstable one. Some feel a sense of obligation -- as Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible”. And there are those who believe that their liberation is bound up with that of others.
Why Do It Jewishly?
“56% of Jews say that being Jewish means working for justice — that’s both an affirmation and a challenge to everyone engaged in the Jewish social justice field. It shows that American Jews crave a purpose, a connection to this part of their Jewishness, as well as physical and emotional places to come and be in a community that welcomes people’s whole selves and identity. Simply put, it proves the authentic need and audience for Jewish social justice work.” - Abby Levine, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable
What is the Difference Between Social Service and Social Justice?
Social service, or charity, tries to address immediate needs such as food, clothing or shelter. Social justice efforts try to change the conditions that create those needs. As Dr. Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public”.
Are There Similar Organizations?
Jewish Community Action (Twin Cities), Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (NYC), Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago), and Jews United for Justice (DC). There are currently no similar organizations in Michigan, though several with shared values are looking forward to enhancing their work through partnering with DJJ.
Is DJJ Partisan?
Simply stated, no. Our work will advocate for people and giving more voice and power in society to the voiceless and powerless -- never for any political party or candidate. In these times of extreme and worsening inequality and limited participation in civic life, regular people need a greater voice in shaping the policies that impact their families and communities. If that is political, than we are guilty as charged! But in the legal sense, we are strictly and clearly nonpartisan. We hope that many of the policies we campaign for will be enacted through bipartisan cooperation.
What Issues Do You Expect to Work On?
DJJ will work on issues our members choose. That said, since we are committed at the outset to working alongside disenfranchised and marginalized communities, we anticipate a range of issues such as accountable economic development and displacement (particularly of elders), foreclosure prevention, reproductive rights, living wages, and the growing movement for police accountability.
How Has DJJ Been Received Thus Far?