Havurat Shalom is a Partner Supporting the Equality Act
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act is a bill in the United States Congress. If passed, it would update the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. Passage of the Equality Act would provide LGBTQ people nationwide with protection against discrimination.
Why is it important for Jewish communities to support the Equality Act?
Given the role of many faith communities in opposing LGBTQ rights, Congress needs to hear from Jews and other pro-equality people of faith that we support the passage of the Equality Act. It is critical that we speak out – not despite our religious tradition, but because of our ethical mandate to fight for human dignity and justice.
Why is the Equality Act Not Already a Law?
The bill passed the United States House of Representatives in 2019, but the then Republican-controlled Senate did not vote on it. This year, February 25, 2021, the House passed the bill (224 voting “yes” to 206 “no” votes). Next, it will go to the Senate where the Democrats currently have a slim majority (thanks to the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President). However, a filibuster proof majority of Senators – 60 – must vote to approve the legislation.
How can we help?
Contact your state’s two senators and urge them to bring the Equality Act up for a vote in the Senate. President Biden has pledged to sign the Equality Act after it is passed by Congress – which his administration encourages legislators to quickly do. Public support for LGBTQ equality is clear: 83% of Americans across the political spectrum favor laws that would protect LGBTQ people against discrimination (American Values Survey, 2020).
Is there more we can do than send emails and postcards?
Yes! You can share on social media about the campaign, host a postcard writing Zoom gathering with friends and family, partner with Keshet for an Equality Act 101 session, and more. If you’re interested in partnering in any of these ways, please email our Director of Community Mobilization, Jon Cohen, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaign Launch PartnersFor full campaign endorsement list, click here.
Our Rabbi has expanded a bit here so that we can increase our understanding of the three foundation principles upon which Jewish social action is based:
1. Tikkun Olam, emerged in 16th century Jewish mysticism, "repairing the world" -- the larger world out there, going beyond the community
2. Gemilut Hesed, acts of loving kindness, *internal* to the community, how we support each other
3. Tzedakah, acts of both justice and charity, including political action
In 2017, we formed a Tikkun Olam/Social Action Committee where Havurat Shalom members can join together to address social justice issues that they are concerned about through collective action. The first work of the Committee was to develop a Havurat Shalom Statement of Values that expresses our inclusive identity and commitments as a community, which was adopted at the Annual Meeting in June. We look forward to having more regular meetings starting later in the summer—there’s a lot to talk about and a lot to do! For more information or to join the Committee contact Jeff Gross, email@example.com.
Havurat Shalom Statement of Values*
Havurat Shalom is a Reconstructionist congregation committed to providing a Jewish identity, education and spiritual practice for its members in a manner that is meaningful for our contemporary lives. We are an inclusive, welcoming and engaged community focused on the spiritual and cultural development of all of its members, and support for each other and the larger community in which we live.
Havurat Shalom accepts members regardless of marital status, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity or expression, economic condition, (dis)ability, or sexual orientation. We affirm the full equality and welcoming of LGBTQ people and families. Havurat Shalom welcomes interfaith families, and those who are or have been members of other Jewish congregations or who have never practiced Judaism in a structured way.
Havurat Shalom functions on a democratic and participatory basis and relies on the active engagement of all members. We encourage members to contribute their individual perspectives and background to the activities of the community, including the contents of holiday services and celebrations, creating a constantly evolving expression of Jewish ideas and Jewish practice. We value the contributions of people of other faiths and identities who are part of our community.
As a Reconstructionist congregation, we look to the Torah and Jewish sacred texts as a source of spiritual and moral insight and guidance in our lives. At the same time, even as we engage with tradition we listen to our own consciences and lived experiences as important sources of truth and inspiration. We welcome community members who have different personal understandings of the Divine, including those who aren’t sure what they believe or who don’t use God-language to describe their beliefs.
Havurat Shalom affirms the Jewish values of G'milut hesed, acts of kindness; Tikkun olam, social activism, literally "world repair”; and Tzedaka, from the Hebrew root tzedek, “justice,” often translated as “charity.” G’milut hesed affirms the obligation to visit the sick, care for elders, comfort mourners, welcome guests, and celebrate new families and children. Tikkun olam represents an attempt to repair a breach in the functioning of the world and advance systemic change. Tikkun olam draws on Jewish tradition and Jewish history in pursuing social justice and equality for all peoples. Tzedaka is also an expression of justice not charity in the usual sense; its aim is to help restore justice through recognizing the need for a fairer distribution of resources.
As a congregation, we seek to engage with other faith communities that embody and advance our values. Along with being a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement, Havurat Shalom is a member of the Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, which includes Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Chabad congregations as well as Reconstructionist; and of Welcoming Faiths, a coalition of LGBTQ welcoming congregations in the Merrimack Valley.
adopted June, 2017
* This Statement of Values is based on long-standing community values and practices described on the Havurat Shalom website, on the revised Central Commitments of Reconstructionist Judaism developed in 2017 by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and on the Reconstructionist movement website’s description of Jewish values of community and social action (https://www.jewishrecon.org/act/doing-justice). The Statement was developed by the Havurat Shalom Tikkun Olam/Social Justice Committee with input from the Board, other congregation members, and Rabbi Karen. The Statement of Values is a living document and comments and suggestions are always welcome.
updated February 24, 2020