CJJ/West Hosted a Forum for Green Opportunities on May 18th

Green Opportunities

On May 18, CJJ/West hosted a forum for Green Opportunities (GO) at the Asheville JCC. The intent of the forum was to spread the word about the non-profit and to help them connect with businesses in the building industry. George Jones, GO executive director, gave an overview about the organization and its core values: hope, change and transformation. GO has been in existence for about 8 years and there are now 65 graduates of their training programs (culinary and building). The event focused primarily on the builder training program, but the delicious refreshments were prepared by the culinary students. Mr. Jones stressed the current housing needs in Asheville and especially the need for green builders. For that reason, the 3-month training program is undergoing a change to a 9-month program. Doug Sharkey, the Build Environment Lead Teacher elaborated on the ED’s overview. He described the newly adapted curriculum, which will enable students to gain certifications in various fields (e.g. HVAC, OSHA) and to complete relevant apprenticeships to make them more employable. He feels GO is the work force solution in affordable housing in Asheville. He introduced a graduate of the program who was hired by the Asheville Housing Authority, who testified about the value of the GO program. Another former student, Eric Howell, was also introduced. He was so successful in the program that he was hired by GO as an instructor. Anthony Thomas, employment manager, introduced another graduate who related his personal story and how GO is unique and effective. He mentioned that 40% of the students have a criminal record and at least 32% are homeless. But what they all have in common is that We’re warriors. We work hard! GO provides wrap-around service support to their students to help them be successful.

The concluding statement from GO is that they need community support, in the form of volunteers, ambassadors and donors. They are especially seeking apprenticeship and jobs for their students. So if you are in the building industry, or know someone who is, check out Green Opportunities (www.greenopportunities.org). And if you are contracting to have some construction work done yourself, ask your builder to hire GO graduates.

We Mourn the Passing of Isaac Coleman

Carolina Jews for Justice/West mourns the loss of one of its most consistent partners in the struggle for racial and economic justice, Isaac Coleman, who passed away from cancer early Tuesday morning, May 10, 2016.  Isaac was a true friend of CJJ/West.  He was a member of the Black-Jewish Alliance started by CJJ/West (a dialogue group that meets monthly in Asheville), a faithful attender at CJJ programs, and a panelist on our program about civil rights workers in the Deep South inspired by the movie Selma.  He was a visionary and a tireless worker for the rights of all.  We will miss him deeply.

GO Build “Friend-Raiser”

Green OpportunitiesWednesday May 18, 2016      5:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Asheville JCC 236 Charlotte Street, Asheville, NC 28801

Join Green Opportunities and Carolina Jews for Justice for a presentation on GO Build, a program that promotes economic justice in Asheville by providing certification and on-the-job training in the construction trades to low-income adults.

Attendees will:
– Hear directly from GO Build Graduates about the program’s impact.
– See examples of prior GO Build projects.
– Learn how to engage with GO Build.

Find out how YOU can support GO Build! Builders, contractors, building owners, homeowners and more should attend.

Refreshments will be provided.

Questions? Contact Marilynne Herbert at mherbert1@aol.com

Jewish community stands against HB2

The Jewish community has spoken loudly and clearly that it is opposed to HB2. To add to the call for repeal of this legislation, sign this petition.

Here’s a list of community statements opposing HB2:

45 NC Rabbis sign statement against HB2

CJJ’s statement on HB2

Judea Reform’s statement

Temple Emanuel’s statement 

Durham Chapel Hill Federation’s statement

Beth El Durham’s statement

Congregation Beth Israel’s statement

Beth Meyer synagogue’s statement

Kehillah Synagogue’s statement

Temple of the High Country’s statement

Statement from the desk of Rabbi Eve Eichenholtz

Rabbi Lucy Dinner’s sermon on HB2, Temple Beth Or

Rabbi Stephen Roberts in the Watauga Democrat

Join vsGoliath and ask the NBA to move the All-Star Game if HB2 is not repealed

Did we miss one? Email us at carolinajews@gmail.com and we’ll add it to our growing list.


A Shabbaton for Jewish Justice

by Frank Goldsmith, co-chair CJJ West

During the weekend of March 25-27, 2016, Carolina Jews for Justice held its second annual Shabbaton at Haw River State Park, a state-owned conference facility located in Browns Summit, N.C., north of Greensboro.  Twenty-three Jewish activists from the Triangle and Western North Carolina gathered to get to know each other better, to worship together, to learn about engaging people in the struggle for justice, and to plan our campaigns for the coming year.

We began with an ice-breaker session lead by Debbie Goldstein, President of CJJ.  Then, after welcoming each other, we welcomed Shabbat with the candle-lighting and blessings over the wine and ḥallah.  Following dinner, we held a brief Kabbalat Shabbat service, then shared our paths of involvement in social justice that led us to CJJ and to this event.

On Saturday we held a Shabbat morning service, complete with an inspiring d’var Torah by Rabbi Larry Bach of Judea Reform congregation in Durham.  Rabbi Bach also led a study session on Jewish social justice after lunch.  The Shabbaton included some time for Shabbat rest, of course, and opportunities for walking the trails of the conference center.

But the principal aim of the Shabbaton was to plan action to achieve social justice, and so we did.  On Saturday afternoon and evening, Judy Leavitt led a discussion on how to recruit, engage, and nurture volunteers, and on Sunday morning we gathered to create some specific projects.  Here are some of the campaigns that emerged from our discussions:

  • We will initiate a Legislative Accountability Project that will highlight specific recent legislation implicating Jewish values and will inform Jews about its importance and the positions taken by their local legislators. As a pilot project, we will focus on HB2 and create materials to circulate in Wake, Buncombe, Guilford, and Mecklenburg counties.
  • We will support the Coalition of Immolakee Workers in its Campaign for Fair Food, seeking a penny-per-pound increase in the price of tomatoes by Publix, one of the few grocery chains that has not yet joined Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even Walmart in this effort. We will do that by circulating and posting materials for Passover about the issue, including proposed letters for customers to send to Publix’ management.
  • We will launch a North Carolina Jewish Living Wage Project, first asking Jewish institutions and small business owners to pledge to pay a living wage; collaborating with local living wage projects and with other partners on legislative efforts and on creating a grassroots strategy; providing materials to use in persuading businesses to pledge to pay living wages; and working in coordination with Bend the Arc in its Fight for Fifteen campaign.
  • We will create a voter guide for high school and college students to circulate through Jewish youth organizations and Hillel.

This is an exciting time for Carolina Jews for Justice.  We are growing and thriving, and we are becoming recognized in our state and nationally as a force for social justice that speaks from a Jewish perspective.  We invite all to join us in our efforts to repair our part of the world.


Ron Katz- Medicaid Reform remarks April 6 hearing in Asheville


My name is Ron Katz, and I am a member of Carolina Jews for Justice, a statewide network of Jewish individuals committed to a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina.  Thank you for this opportunity to share my views.

For the last several years, the NC General Assembly and Governor have talked about the importance of reforming Medicaid.  My understanding was much of the concern had to do with the cost and the lack of predictability in the amount that Medicaid was costing the state. When asked about the possibility of expanding Medicaid, some members of the General Assembly and the Governor stated that expansion could not be addressed until Medicaid reform was enacted.

This past session, the General Assembly and Governor passed Medicaid Reform.  It is now time to hold the General Assembly and Governor at their word that they will look at expanding Medicaid.

Expanding Medicaid will save lives, reduce health care costs, and boost the NC economy. Over a year ago, over 120 of CJJ members signed a petition urging Governor McCrory and the NC General Assembly to immediately accept federal funds to expand Medicaid in the state of North Carolina.

NC’s elected officials have the opportunity to provide affordable health insurance to up to 500,000 adults who are stuck in the health insurance coverage gap.  Closing the coverage gap will have a positive impact on our whole state, especially children. Some of things we know about closing the gap include:

  • When parents are insured, their children are more likely to be insured, and they are better able to care for their children.
  • Closing the health insurance gap will provide better economic security for more families, and therefore better economic security for our state.
  • Making health care available to the up to 500,000 eligible working adults in NC will also create jobs and reduce the cost of emergency or catastrophic care that is provided when preventative care could have been more cost-effective.
  • Expansion is critical for containing costs in Medicaid, which is a key goal of North Carolina’s Medicaid Reform. Without expanding health coverage to people in the gap that oftentimes have many unmet medical needs, those people will receive inconsistent and more costly health care.
  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will struggle to maintain access for Medicaid patients as the health care infrastructure erodes, especially in vulnerable rural areas, as a result of refusing to close the coverage gap. Clinic and hospital closings will only accelerate in the future if we do not access additional federal funds.
  • The federal government is unlikely to believe that our state is truly innovative and takes its commitment to improving the lives of low-income citizens seriously when we are refusing federal funds to extend insurance coverage to the up to 500,000 people who are in the coverage gap.

From a faith-perspective, the members of Carolina Jews for Justice urge the state expand Medicaid to the up to 500,000 people that could benefit.  We believe we have already waited too long to fulfill our obligation to the members of our community who could benefit from Medicaid Expansion. The federal government has set aside funds for this purpose, and North Carolina is not taking advantage of those funds; we urge you to seek to expand Medicaid as part of Medicaid reform proposals and urge you to act quickly.  We also ask the Federal government, in its consideration of Medicaid reform, that expanding Medicaid in some form be a requirement in their acceptance of the Medicaid reform proposal from our state.


Ron Katz