by the Economic Justice Committee
At the request of Kehilla’s Economic Justice Committee (EJC) the synagogue joined Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) in 2005 after surveying the congregation to learn which issues were most important to members. Even though about half or our membership did not live in Oakland, we felt that Joining OCO would magnify our ability to make change in many areas related to economic justice that would affect the entire Bay Area. In addition, OCO was working together with sister organizations which are part of PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) California, including federations in Berkeley, Southern Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, San Mateo County and San Jose. These groups all use similar methods of organizing.
OCO is a federation of about 40 churches, synagogues, Islamic centers, a Buddhist group, schools, and other community organizations which works on issues such as violence prevention, education, immigration, jobs, mass incarceration and other criminal justice concerns, affordable housing, community banking and illegal garbage dumping. It is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 5-9pm at the Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral*.
Because of the understanding that so many important problems are regional in nature, OCO has decided to undergo some significant changes. It will join forces as one organization with colleagues in COR (Congregations Organizing for Renewal, located in southern Alameda Co.) and CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, located in Contra Costa Co.) to become one organization. (Berkeley’s BOCA — Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action – will probably continue independently.) In addition, in its new make-up, OCO will share some significant staff positions – Communications Officer, Operations Officer, Funding Developer, and Regional Director of Strategy, with the San Francisco – San Mateo group. This consolidation will allow each group to take advantage of each other’s strengths and experience. Since many Oakland and Berkeley residents have relocated to farther locations due to the high cost of housing, joining together will enable us to continue working with our members (which OCO calls ‘leaders’) in outlying areas. This is especially good for us at Kehilla, since so many of our members live outside of Oakland.
In addition to housing, many of the EJC’s concerns are really regional issues: transportation, the environment, criminal justice, and education, to name a few. The Economic Justice Committee looks forward to working with the new OCO as it emerges as a stronger organization.
Please think about joining the EJC in its OCO work!
*Located at 4700 Lincoln Ave. Oakland 94602. For tickets, go to https://oco40.eventbrite.com.