This winter, Detroit Jews for Justice (DJJ) asked ourselves, “Why is it time to care?” We wanted to inspire our Jewish community to action on an issue we feel profoundly reflects our values. When we learned that almost half of all private sector workers don’t receive paid sick leave, and that single mothers and people of color are disproportionately affected by this lack of rights, we knew that it was time to act.
Inspired by our tradition and refusing to accept the status quo, we set an ambitious goal to collect 1,000 signatures for the MI Time To Care campaign.
“Jews have a very proud history of leadership in the Labor Movement,” said our director, Rabbi Alana Alpert. “We see this work as a continuation of a sacred legacy.”
DJJ Organizing Team leaders Nora Feldhusen and Oren Brandvain said, “There are people in the Jewish community who are directly affected by this issue, particularly those who are low-income, women and people of color.”
Beyond contributing to the success of an important cause, DJJ also felt that our participation in the ballot initiative provided many opportunities for Metro Detroit Jews and Jewish institutions to gain organizing experience and to build relationships both inside and outside of DJJ.
We did it!
We rallied 50 leaders to circulate the petition, surpassing our goal in fewer than three months. Our leaders went to local institutions and events (Jewish and non-Jewish) to gather signatures on 22 occasions. In addition, we hosted five educational programs on Time to Care in partnership with local Jewish communities, including events at local synagogues and private homes. At these programs, we discussed the history of DJJ and our mission, offered background on earned sick time and the ballot initiative, collected signatures and trained circulators.
We have been thrilled by the success of our Time to Care efforts and particularly proud that it has helped us achieve our goal of showing emerging DJJ leaders and our broader Jewish community what social action that addresses racial and economic injustice can look like.
Next fall, we will continue our commitment to the Time to Care campaign, pending the issue getting on the ballot. We will engage members of the local Jewish community in Time to Care educational programming and recruit volunteers for Get Out the Vote activities preceding the election.
We hope you’ll join us — because it is time to care!
Blair Nosan is program director for Detroit Jews for Justice, www.detroitjewsforjustice.org.