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Economic Justice Committee

Members and partners of the Kehilla Economic Justice Committee in action! Collage by Alex Madonik.

Join the Economic Justice Committee:

Our urgent work on criminal justice reform in Alameda County continues, with calls for adequate mental health services instead of incarceration, and continued demand for major changes at Santa Rita Jail. If you are interested in social and economic justice work, we invite you to join us.

The Economic Justice Committee (EJC) meets from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Usually, we meet at 6:30 for a potluck/schmoozing. Since the start of the pandemic we switched to meeting on Zoom – please email the EJC chair for the link.

To keep updated on our activities, please check out the Economic Justice Committee blog, and our announcements in Kehilla’s Weekly newsletter.

Current Action Areas We Participate In:
  • Ongoing Criminal Justice Reform work focused on Santa Rita Jail: The EJC is a founding member and active participant in the Interfaith Coalition for Justice in the Jails (ICJJ), working to ameliorate the egregious conditions in Santa Rita Jail, as well as to accelerate decarceration (especially in light of Covid-19) and safe and healthy reentry for released inmates. The group campaigned to decrease the reliance on Santa Rita Jail for inmates’ mental health needs and to transfer funds to community based mental health care organizations. See Karen Rachels interview Myrna Schwartz about Santa Rita Jail here. Contact Richard Speiglman or Myrna Schwartz to get involved.
  • Active Electoral work for State and Local Propositions: For information current information, contact the EJC chair, Karen Rachels.
  • The Homeless Action Committee now has its own web page.

Recent and Ongoing Actions
  • Continuing participation in accompaniment teams for immigrants, attending vigils put on by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and response to calls to attend court appearances to support immigrants.
  • Produced a Webinar on Proposition 15 in July 2020
  • Participated in Iftar Under the Stars for a Housing Shabbat in May 2019 and hosted a Housing Shabbat at Kehilla in May 2020.
  • Yom Kippur 2019 workshop on Santa Rita Jail, where we showed the movie “What Happened to DuJuan Armstrong?” Watch here with the password “motorcycle”.
  • In fall 2019, participated in Youth Spirit Artworks’ Tiny House Project, a team of Kehilla volunteers took the lead in building a Tiny House.
  • Produced two Town Hall Meetings with Plymouth Church of Jazz and Justice: March 2019, on Criminal Justice Reform; June 2019 on Reentry after Incarceration.
  • As part of FIA-EB’s (see below) Live Free Committee, produced a detailed report on conditions at Alameda County jails, “What’s Up With Our Jails?”

Other Affiliations:

We cooperate with Bend the ArcJYCA, the East Oakland CollectiveThe Village in Oakland, the Ella Baker Center, the East Bay Interfaith Immigration CoalitionEast Bay Housing Organizations, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and their Nueva Esperanza program to accompany immigrants, among other community organizations.

History: the EJC joins Faith in Action East Bay (formerly OCO- Oakland Community Organizations)

Kehilla has sponsored committees doing Tikkun Olam (healing the world) work since its formation. The EJC was formed in 2005 to represent Kehilla’s economic Tikkun Olam efforts in the greater community. Seeking a wider community connection in our work, in 2006, Kehilla joined Oakland Community Organizations, a large, multi-ethnic, interfaith, intergenerational group of congregations and schools, working together to improve the quality of life for low-income people in Oakland.

In 2018, OCO was renamed Faith in Action East Bay (FIA-EB) when it expanded to include Southern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. FIA-EB is a powerful force for local social and economic justice and is the oldest member of the national Faith in Action network, a federation of faith-based community organizations in 17 states and Washington, DC. As the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the EJC serves as liaison between Kehilla and FIA-EB.

Again, we invite you to join us! We are an active, dedicated committee and always welcome new input and new energy.

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The Weekly, Kehilla’s newsletter, is released every Thursday.