Get Involved with Nitzavim: Standing Up for Voter Protection and Participation

Inside Leadership

Get Involved with Nitzavim: Standing Up for Voter Protection and Participation

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." Earlier this month, in celebration of Tu B’Av, the holiday of love, the Reform Movement launched our nationwide nonpartisan voting rights initiative, Nitzavim: Standing Up for Voter Protection and Participation.

We demonstrate our love by standing together with our allies at the NAACP, PICO National Network, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Together, we are committed to protecting the right to vote and encouraging voter participation.

Our love is about justice and accountability. We will act with love by organizing to beat back efforts to suppress the vote across the United States. Unfettered access to the polls is a sacred aspect of American democracy and a fundamental component of racial justice.

Will you join us in this fight? Pledge to take action to protect the right to vote.

More than 200 Reform Jews and allies from across the country were present for the campaign’s launch in North Carolina. I was honored to share the pulpit with my URJ colleagues, President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Chair Daryl Messinger, and Vice President of Audacious Hospitality April Baskin, as well as Rabbi Steve Fox of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. We were joined by powerful voices for justice, including Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NC NAACP and architect of the Moral Monday Movement, as well as Rabbi Lucy Dinner and Rabbi Larry Bach from Raleigh and Durham, and other leaders for justice from North Carolina, our Movement, and national partners. If you weren’t able to join us, you can still watch videos from our Tu B’Av celebration and Nitzavim launch.

Why did we choose North Carolina as the site of the launch of our nationwide initiative? The 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby v. Holder eviscerated the longstanding Voting Rights Act, and now North Carolina holds the dubious distinction of being one of the states that has most aggressively changed its voting laws and procedures to suppress voters’ voices. It is now exponentially more difficult for people of color to participate in the electoral process in North Carolina and states that have taken similar action. We refuse to stand by while the foundations of our democracy are under threat. As a Movement, we are committed to stamping out racism.

On the Friday and Saturday following the launch, we held organizing meetings and trainings led by Joy Friedman, the RAC’s director of organizing, and Liz Dunst, chair of the Commission on Social Action, among others – and then we set out to conduct voter registration throughout the area. Reform activists registered more than 330 new voters and collected pledge cards from more than 400 voters who committed to participate in the election this fall. Check out our photo gallery from the event on the RAC’s Facebook page.

Now, we’re recruiting volunteers to monitor voting locations in Ohio and Georgia, and additional opportunities will be available for Reform activists to take action all over the country, in their own communities and wherever the right to vote is most under attack. Pledge to protect the right to vote.

On Tu B’Av, Rabbi Rick Jacobs reminded us, “The God we love is impatient with injustice!” This November will mark the first presidential election in more than 50 years that lacks the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. We cannot allow the forces of racism and those who would constrict our democracy and shut people out of the process and decide who can and cannot vote.

From now through Election Day, the Reform Movement and our allies will be vigorously defending the right to vote and access to the polls, and we’ll be doing our part to encourage and ensure high voter turnout. Join us.

Learn more about the Reform Movement's Nitzavim campaign by visiting rac.org/nitzavim.

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Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner represents the Reform Movement to Congress and the administration as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He also serves as the senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

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