Pursuing Justice

Pursuing Justice

Kol Tzedek, Voice for Justice, is Kol Shalom’s social action initiative. Members engage in Tikkun Olam, repairing our world, through action and advocacy on several issues affecting our community. At Kol Shalom we believe in “praying with your feet”, to quote Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and we dedicate particular focus to the following areas:

Racial Justice –Kol Shalom will be partnering with the Center for Common Ground and the Religious Action Center for the Reclaim Our Vote campaign to fight voter suppression. Among other things, this campaign will enable each of us to write postcards to affected individuals, typically eligible voters of color, empowering them to take action to re-register to vote, and to have their voices heard in our upcoming election.

Immigration Reform – Providing a welcoming and safe environment for newly arrived immigrant families in Montgomery County is a vital concern for our region. Accordingly, the Kol Tzedek program has participated in advocacy events involving Maryland state legislative issues that affect the security and well-being of immigrant families. In the social action arena, we participate in programs that help newly arrived families with limited income to settle in their homes and to cope with their daily living needs. We also support education programs for children in immigrant families such as South Lake elementary school in Gaithersburg.

Food Insecurity –Food hardship experienced by Maryland families is putting our children’s physical, emotional, educational, and behavioral development at risk. We helped develop, draft, and secure passage of the Summer SNAP for Children legislation, a first-of-its-kind program that provides meal funding for needy families. We recognize that structural racism and its consequences are the cause of persistent disparities in food insecurity rates among communities of color, therefore we support policies and practices that apply a racial equity lens to food insecurity, as well as strategies to address the unique needs of immigrant households.

Gun Violence Prevention – Gun violence is a widespread problem in our society and we must address the issue in its various forms, from mass shootings and hate crimes to domestic violence and suicide. Kol Shalom is committed to supporting common-sense laws that will reduce the appalling toll taken by gun violence. Working in conjunction with Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, we have supported several legislative efforts to reduce gun violence, including measures to limit assault weapons and ghost guns, reduce access to guns by children, and establish best practices by gun dealers.

The Critical Issues Forum (CIF): Kol Shalom participates in CIF, Advocacy for Social Justice, along with synagogues representing 1,750 households and three denominations of Judaism: Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform. The mission of CIF is to advocate regarding societal issues consistent with Jewish values including:
• Effective solutions to food insecurity in Maryland for families, children, and seniors
• Advocacy work on gun violence prevention
• Support for the renovation of a low-income, largely immigrant school in Gaithersburg
• Civic engagement including voter registration, moderating candidate forums, voter rights and suppression, which disproportionately affects communities of color