Tikkun Olam: First-time Reflections on JRLC's Day on the Hill

Tikkun Olam: First-time Reflections on JRLC's Day on the Hill

In the spirit of “tikkun olam” (a Hebrew phrase which translates to “healing the world”), over...

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  • Tikkun Olam: First-time Reflections on JRLC's Day on the Hill

    Tikkun Olam: First-time Reflections on JRLC's Day on the Hill

  • Theatrical Advocacy: iCAN and blank slate theatre's  BOTTOM

    Theatrical Advocacy: iCAN and blank slate theatre's BOTTOM

  • Practically Payday Lending

    Practically Payday Lending

  • Greetings from the New JRLC Intern: Breanne Royer!

    Greetings from the New JRLC Intern: Breanne Royer!

  • Hard Work Just Isn't Enough: Raise the Wage!

    Hard Work Just Isn't Enough: Raise the Wage!

New Beginnings

The Head Table By mtsofan on Flickr

This evening at sundown Jews celebrate the mark of a new year, Rosh Hashanah, a time for new beginnings marked by the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn), and a time to prepare for the coming year, including a reallocation of resources and debts.

I am so grateful for the idea of new beginnings, especially coming on the heels of new poverty rates released by the US Census Bureau last week. The dramatic jump in poverty rates, especially poverty within communities of color and among children, made me angry, ashamed, frustrated...and very glad that God marks our lives with new beginnings. When things are getting worse, it's time to begin anew.

We must think anew about reapportionment of resources, property, and debt because, I believe, it is simply not possible to have a good society, or enjoy peace and prosperity, or compete in the global labor market when 15.2 percent of Minnesota's children live below poverty guidelines and experience unnecessary deprivation. The human toll and financial costs are unacceptable.

Some will call any talk of redistribution "class warfare" but it's time to name the truth: class warfare against the poor and vulnerable is timeless which is exactly why the Bible calls for the Jubilee Year and a new beginning. Class warfare is an extant reality and the rising number of poor, unemployed, ill-housed, and unemployed are its casualties.

Thousands of us in Minnesota, especially folks in Minnesota's faith communities, have been organizing and advocating to bring about the elimination of poverty in Minnesota. This latest push began about seven or eight years ago, with the interfaith signing of the 2004 Common Foundation Statement and the passing of legislation in 2006 that created the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020. The Commission's report and recommendations were released in 2009. Since then, poverty has gotten worse. It reaches into more households, affects vastly more people, snuffs out too many dreams, and coarsens life for everyone.

Here's the stark picture from the ACS Census Data: In 2010, 11.6 percent of Minnesotans lived in  poverty, up significantly from 9.5 percent in 2007. This average figure masks much higher rates of poverty within Minnesota’s communities of color. In 2010, 17.8 percent of Asians were living in poverty, as were 24.4 percent of Latinos and 37.2 percent of blacks. Poverty among American Indians increased from 30.7 percent to 39.5 percent. And, as mentioned before, 15.2 percent of all children in Minnesota live below the poverty line.

If you attended JRLC's Statehood Day vigil last May 11 you heard Rabbi Yonatan Sadoff sound the shofar in the MN Capitol rotunda to remember the beginning of Minnesota's story as a part of the Union (1858), and to remind us that God's people respond to the shofar by assembling from time to time to protect lives and make God's justice real.

Click here to see Rabbi Sadoff sounding of the shofar. Then begin anew to work for God's justice. Shanah Tovah!

(Photo Source)

Brian Rusche
executive director 

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JRLC Constituent Poll

Which achievement of the 2013 legislative session do you find most satisfying?

The tax bill, including $1.1 billion in revenue from the new top tier income tax - 62.5%
Homes for All successes, including $21.1 million for affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs and $7 million for services for the homeless - 25%
Improvements to health care access, including expanded coverage and the creation of the health insurance exchange - 0%
Improvements to MFIP, including $23 million for housing allowances for families and the repeal of the family cap - 12.5%
$2.8 million in funding for statewide services for human trafficking victims - 0%
Other - 0%
The voting for this poll has ended

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