Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities


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The Come Home Alive Initiative (CHAI)

Submitted by Jessica Trupin, Temple Beth Am Member

On Friday, December 14th, after hearing about the shootings in Newtown, I posted a notice to Facebook.  I would open my living room every other Sunday at 3pm for the foreseeable future to anyone who wanted to “do something”.  On Sunday the 16th nine people gathered.  The Come Home Alive Initiative was created from that first meeting.

Our founding mission is this:  The Come Home Alive Initiative (CHAI) is committed to a violence-free America so our children come home alive from school or play, soldiers come home alive from our wars, and each of us finds in our minds a place to which we may come home alive. CHAI is a group of parents, educators, and activists who came together in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings to lobby for legislation, dismantle our nation’s culture of fear and violence, and raise awareness of peaceful alternatives.

On December 30th we were fortunate to have the executive director of Washington CeaseFire come speak with us.  This Sunday, January 13th, we will be joining the march from Westlake Park to the Seattle Center: StandUp Washington : Turning Anger in to Action.  

We will be supporting the assault weapons ban this session, but beyond that, we’re committed to a broader view than the us v. them paradigm that’s kept a grip on our national dialogue.  Sensible, responsible gun owners are more than welcome and are, in fact, crucial to this conversation.

If you’re interested, we currently exist only on Facebook as the Densmore Working Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/485572574828611/?bookmark_t=groupand in my living room, so please email me either at jtrupin@comcast.net or connect with me on Facebook.  The name CHAI was a lucky accident. 

Best,

Jessica

Jessica C. Trupin
jtrupin@comcast.net ∙ 206-992-6684

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Afraid to drop my kids off at school

Post by Guest Blogger Suzi LeVine
http://suzilevine.wordpress.com

In 2006, a lunatic got into the Seattle Jewish Federation offices and shot/killed people. This man wasn’t just a lunatic. He was/is a terrorist. He struck terror into the hearts of the Jews throughout Seattle. The day after the incident, a group of us met on a hillside our neighborhood, with a police officer stationed nearby to keep us safe. To the depths of our souls, we were afraid. That’s terror. That’s what terrorists do.

To help keep our community safe, many of the Jewish institutions in Washington State received funding to turn their facilities into fortresses. I was on the board of Hillel (the Jewish Student organization at the University of Washington) at the time and we really wrestled with this conundrum. We wanted to make sure that students felt that it was an open and hospitable environment. Yet – we needed our staff and students to be safe. We had just built a beautiful window-filled building designed to convey that sense of welcoming and lightness.

6 years later, we have bullet proof front glass doors, an intercom system to buzz people in, a surveillance system that captures footage of the surrounding area, and armed police officers for many of the big events. Fortunately, students are resilient and they have continued to come. They have grown accustomed to a new – and perverse – normal.

In 2007, my family and I went to Israel and, during our trip, went to a mall in Eilat to buy some sandals. We went through metal detectors that were staffed by young men with very large and imposing guns. Throughout their country, Israelis go through security to shop and live their lives. They have grown accustomed to a new – and perverse – normal.

Today, I drove my 2 elementary school kids to their respective schools. There was a police officer at my daughter’s school but no noticeable security at my son’s school. I have never been scared of dropping my children off at school before. But my brain couldn’t help but run through macabre scenarios at what are sweet and very open/accessible schools. Would some crazy young man (they are all young men, unfortunately) go into the school with a semi-automatic weapon and murder my babies? Of course the odds are against that happening, but are there mentally ill copy cats who would do that? Just last year, some dumb high school students carried fake plastic weapons onto the play area of one of our neighborhood elementary schools. Granted, they wouldn’t fire on anyone – but if there can be non-mentally ill high school students who do something as moronic as that (last I checked, “stupid” wasn’t classified as a mental illness), then it’s not a stretch for someone to bring a real weapon to one of the schools

So what’s the solution? How do we reduce the terror? How do we reduce the gun violence?

There are far more qualified people thinking about the criminal science and legislative angles on this. But here are just a few ideas from a mom who wants to make sure that, tonight, I get to kiss and hug my babies:

  1. Eliminate the weapons and their ammo – we need federal, state and municipal efforts on this:
    1. Ban them and make it impossibly hard to acquire and/or keep them – including ones that people already own (when legislation gets introduced on this, it’ll be incumbent on all of us to work hard and make a ton of phone calls in support of this legislation. The Pro-Assault Gun lobby has a lot more money and will do a lot to stop this, but we are stronger).
    2. Buy them back from people so that they feel fairly compensated (And for those who say that only the people who are truly dangerous will then be able to acquire them, I have only to point out that, if Adam Lanza’s mother had not been able to LEGALLY acquire the weapons she had, maybe he would not have been able to do what he did). Here’s more on the NY andChicago buy back programs. Each program had pros/cons – but if you can couple the ban WITH a buy back program, perhaps it can be more successful.
    3. Make the ammo cost (as Chris Rock says) $5,000/bullet.
    4. Charge obscene levels of taxes on any weapon related purchases. If we can tax soda, cigarettes, gas and candy more, we sure as heck can tax weapons/ammo more.
  2. Especially in the interim when the politicians are fighting/hashing through what can still respect the 2nd amendment – Turn the schools into fortresses
    1. If you can’t keep a lunatic from getting a weapon – then you better tell me you’ll make it a heck of a lot harder for them to get into my kid’s school. Governors, Mayors, Senators, Presidents – find the funding to get my kids’ schools secure. I don’t want my kids’ principals to have to tackle the lunatic. I don’t want the lunatic to get into the school.
    2. One thing NOT to do, though, is to introduce more guns to the situation. It’s truly insane to think that arming and training teachers/school administrators to USE and keep guns is going to prevent gun violence. So – what – you want to have a Wyatt Earp style standoff next to the girls bathroom and lockers? That’s not okay.
  3. Address the mental health crisis
    1. At both of my kids’ schools, one of the first things cut with budget limitations was a school counselor. What if school counselors and mental health were the top priorities?
    2. Better fund early learning – as that’s the time to identify and address many of the issues that eventually balloon into much bigger issues. What if we could identify a lapse in brain development in the area of the brain pertaining to empathy – and then provide strategies and tools for development? What if programs like Roots of Empathy could help EVERY student develop those areas more effectively. Prof. James Heckman from the U of Chicago did a study that showed that, for every dollar we invest in early learning (zero to 5 in his study) we save $7-14 later in incarceration, rehabilitation, and other crime related costs.

Given how long it will probably take to pass and then enact legislation, I would suggest that we need parallel action tracks to address this scourge on society.

Ever since they were teeny, I would emphasize to them that my number one job (besides loving them) was to keep them safe. For example, if they were doing something fun, but dangerous (playing with sharp sticks), I would be a buzzkill and tell them to put the sticks down. After they guffawed with a two syllable “mo-om!” I would simply ask: “what’s my main job” – and they’d put the stick down while reluctantly saying “keep me safe”.

This time “keeping them safe” feels much more daunting, especially since it relies on the whole community and country. But I’ve watched enough movies to know that, when the group comes together to take down the bad guy, the group – and good – always triumphs.

Change on this front is not going to happen if we don’t push for it. So – while I still feel afraid today to drop my kids off at school, I am going to work hard to make sure that condition doesn’t persist – and I ask you to help too.

For a start – here are some resources/places to engage and stay tuned to the effort:

Also – call your Mayor’s, governor’s, and state legislators’ offices. There’s a lot that can be done locally and not just federally.

Lastly – Take 18 minutes to watch President Obama’s speech last night at the Newtown interfaith vigil.

Be ready. Your help will be needed.

A


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Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 11th

Information from Washington Low Income Housing Alliance -http://www.wliha.org 

Registration is Now Open!

Please join hundreds of your fellow advocates from all corners of the state for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2013 on Monday, February 11.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) is an opportunity for you to show our elected officials the strength of this statewide movement. It demonstrates the collective power of our community and brings a unified message of support for affordable housing and ending homelessness to Olympia!

Last year your advocacy helped us to accomplish everything we set out for, including the passage of Part I of the Fair Tenant Screening Act, a healthy investment in the Housing Trust Fund, the preservation of the Housing and Essential Needs Program and much more. This session brings another budget deficit and a tough political environment, so we must again stand strong for our priorities. We’ll need to join together to make a united call for the elimination of barriers to housing, a new investment in the Housing Trust Fund and a continued push for new revenue to protect safety-net services from further cuts.

This year’s theme is “2-11: Hear the Call for Housing and an End to Homelessness.” Our advocacy day will help connect powerful advocates to elected officials in order to make the call to increase access to affordable housing and services and programs that prevent and end homelessness. This year’s theme was chosen in recognition that our date (2-11) is the same phone number (2-1-1) that struggling individuals and families call when trying to get connected to critical resources.  This year lets all come out to Olympia and make the call together to ensure our message is heard loud and strong!

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day
Monday February 11, 2013
“2-11: Hear the Call for Housing and an End to Homelessness

8am – 3pm
United Churches
110 Eleventh Ave SE,
Olympia, WA

Register today and reserve your spot!

Thanks to the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle/King County for helping to provide free lunches for all registered HHAD advocates.

Prepare for HHAD
You can also now register to reserve your spot for a web-based pre-HHAD training on either Thursday, January 31 at 11am or Tuesday, February 5 at 11am. These web-based advocacy trainings will help to prepare you for HHAD and for meeting your elected officials. Space is limited, so please register in advance.  Interested in hosting a training at your organization? Contact Kevin at the Housing Alliance. Below is a preview of what the day will look like, but please stay tuned for more details on the guest speakers and workshops.

 

 

 

Tentative Agenda

8:00am – 9:00
Check-in and grab a coffee and light breakfast at United Churches located at 110 Eleventh Ave SE, Olympia

9:00-9:45

Get fired-up to advocate and hear an explanation of the 2013 Legislative Agenda.

 

 

9:45-11:15
Learn more about your powers of persuasion with our advocacy workshops.

 

 

11:30- 2:30
The afternoon program will offer you several opportunities including lunch with advocates from your legislative district, a meeting with your elected official, and even a rally on the steps of the capitol building.

 

 

2:30 – 3:00pm
Before you head home, join us back at United Churches for a debrief session.

 

 

Volunteer for HHAD
It takes support from across the affordable housing and homelessness community to make HHAD happen every year. We have a range of ways you can get involved as a volunteer for that day and in the days leading up to it. It you are interested contact Alouise at The Housing Alliance.

Thank you for registering today!

Kevin Solarte, Mobilization and Outreach Associate

 

 

 

 


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Questions About Same Sex Marriage in Washington?

Marriage for lesbian and gay couples is legal! What’s next? Legal Voice (www.legalvoice.org) created a memo, Questions and Answers: Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Washington, to answer many frequently asked questions regarding marriage in Washington. Take a look:

http://www.legalvoice.org/news/documents/2012MarriageQA.pdf


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Help Secure Marriage Rights for Same Sex Couples

We’re coming into the final stretch of our effort to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples.  Referendum 74 will appear on the November ballot, and asks voters to approve legislation passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed by the governor authorizing same-sex marriage.

Approval of Ref. 74 is not assured, so your efforts are very important.

Following is a list of some things you can do:

First of all, and most importantly, VOTE to Approve Referendum 74.  If you haven’t registered yet, go register.  Registration deadlines are Oct. 6 for mail-in registrations, and Oct. 8 for online registration.  You can register here.

Second, pick up a green information card in the Temple foyer.

Third, participate in a phone bank.  Temple Beth Am is hosting the “North End” phone bank every Wednesday and Thursday (after Yom Kippur, Sept. 26) from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  You need not be a TBA member (or even Jewish) to join in.  Volunteers will get training… and dinner.  Remember to bring your cell phone, and if possible, a laptop or tablet.  For more information, contact Diane Baer (drbaer11@hotmail.com) or Shelly Cohen (shellyfcohen@gmail.com).

Fourth, ‘pray with your legs’ on Sunday, Sept. 30, 12:30pm at Woodland Park United Methodist Church at N. 78th and Greenwood N.  Join people of faith from the Phinneywood neighborhood and beyond to demonstrate faith community support for marriage equality.

Fifth, check out Equal Vows:  Same-sex Ketubot in Washington State.”  It is the first art exhibit nationwide of same-sex ketubot (decorated marriage contracts) and features several Beth Am artists and couples.  It will take place at the Linda Hodges Gallery at 316 First Ave. S. (in Pioneer Square) on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5 to 8pm.  For more information, contact David Jacobson (david.jacobson@earthlink.net) or check out the event’s Facebook page.

 


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3/18 – TBA Tikkun Olam Teach-In: Homelessness and Economic Injustice

Exploring the Issues of Homelessness and Economic Injustice?  Still Have Questions? Frustrated by How to React as an Individual and as a Community?

Please join us on March 18th at the TempleBeth Am Tikkun Olam Teach-In:  Homelessness and Economic Injustice as we wrestle with these and other questions:

What do you think a caring community should know about homelessness?

Is this a community problem or someone else’s misfortune?

What can I do to help?

What can we do as a community to help?

By allowing tent cities, as an example, are we not addressing the problem? Or are we perpetuating a problem?

How does homelessness affect different populations such as adults, families, youth, chronically ill, mentally ill, chronic substance abusers?

The politics ­ Is this an issue for the city?  county? state? 

Schedule and Registration Info at:  http://templebetham.wufoo.com/forms/tikkun-olam-teachin/