Join CJJ letter opposing NC RFRA

Please fill in this form to sign onto our letter of opposition to S.550/HB348, the “NC Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. For more info on the bill, read here. We will submit this letter to members of the NC Legislature.

March __, 2015

Dear Senator [Representative];

We, the undersigned Jewish community members, write to express our concern about Senate Bill 550 [House Bill 348], the “North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

As a religious minority we know well the importance of religious freedom. Equally, we understand first-hand the harm that can result from legislation that may sanction private discrimination against religious or other minorities.

The bill empowers businesses and employers to refuse to serve certain customers or hire prospective employees when this refusal is motivated by religious beliefs. The bill expressly permits this even when no religion requires it. A business owner motivated by religious beliefs could refuse to hire or serve Jews, for example, or gays, or others.

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New Economy Conference – March 18th

Self Help Credit Union is hosting a March 18 conference, Bringing it Home: Building a Local Economy for Everyone, exploring how local, regional and national programs are changing the face of economic development in Western North Carolina and across the country.

The daylong conference will be held at the Haynes Conference Center, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Enka Site, 1459 Sand Hill Road, in Candler. Tickets are $30, $25 for students, and are available at Some scholarships are available.

Featured speakers include some of the major innovators in economic development such as:

  • Ed Whitfield, Fund for Democratic Communities
  • Becky Anderson, economic development consultant
  • Joe Reimann, Coop Business Development, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund
  • Franzi Charen, Asheville Grown Business Alliance
  • Carol Peppe-Hewitt, Slow Money and Community Sourced Capital

Conference Themes

  • Building a strong local economy from the ground up (local supply and distribution chains, local collaboration, etc.)
  • Creating a large, diverse economy that includes everyone, including all income levels, all races, all creeds
  • Looking both at successful existing structures as well as new, innovative models for building a new economy–from our region and other areas across the country

Who should attend?

  • Entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking technical support or funding
  • Investors in small business looking for new places to invest
  • Community nonprofits seeking awareness of economic development work in the region
  • Local, regional and state government officials interested in innovative models
  • Economic development professionals interested in innovation and creativity

The conference includes five rotating panels and a lunchtime keynote by Ed Whitfield with the Fund for Democratic Communities. The conference also includes a “Local Café,” affording participants opportunity to meet one-on-one with local capital source and technical service providers.

List of Conference Sponsors
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Asheville Grown Business Alliance, Catawba Brewing Company, Center for Local Economies, Eagle Market Streets Development Corp and Block-by-Block Industries, HomeTrust Bank, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Mountain BizWorks, Mountain Xpress, North Country Cooperative Development Fund, RiverLink, Self-Help Credit Union, Small Business Technology Development Center, Southern Appalachian Brewery, The Aloft Hotel, The Support Center and WNC MedWeek Committee.

Can YOU help close the insurance gap in NC?

Yes!  You probably know that nearly 500,000 North Carolinians were left out of health insurance coverage when Governor McCrory refused to expand Medicaid. You may not know the state has already refused over 2 billion Medicaid dollars that would have given health insurance to many low income citizens. But the Governor can change his mind and send a bill for Medicaid expansion to the legislature.  Go to to get more information and to read individuals’ stories. If you have a story to share, there is a link on the site.

A Discussion of the Film Selma Had a Near Capacity Audience

image003A near capacity audience filled the auditorium of the YMI Cultural Center in Asheville for a discussion of the film Selma on Sunday, February 22nd.  The program, sponsored by Carolina Jews for Justice/West, was supported by the YMI and YWCA of Asheville.  Sharon West, board chair of the YMI, reminded those present that the YMI has historically been a gathering place, a place for all to come together to share and take action.  She welcomed YMI’s participation in these discussions sponsored by CJJ/West.

CJJ/West Chair Judy Leavitt introduced the panelists, who included Asheville residents who were in the Deep South during the civil rights movement, including:
image001Ellen Clarke grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, during the civil rights era; she remains active in various organizations that address the inequities and racial disparities of our country’s criminal justice system;
Isaac Coleman went to Mississippi in l964 as part of SNCC’s Mississippi Summer Project, worked as SNCC staff member for 5 years, moved to Ashville in 1971, and is recognized for his activism in educational, political, social and environmental areas;
Charles Gershon was born and raised in Atlanta and was a teenager during Freedom Summer, he is a retired MD and author; and
Carol Rogoff Hallstrom went to Mississippi as a Freedom image002Rider and SNCC organizer, became an attorney, and remains an activist

The discussion that followed was moderated by CJJ/West Steering Committee Member Frank Goldsmith.

Watch the WLOS coverage of the event