T’ruah’s campaign to end mass incarceration engages rabbis, cantors, and their communities in making concrete change locally and nationally to reform our broken criminal justice system. We believe that the goal of our criminal justice system should be teshuvah, not simply punishment.
“I realized [visiting a congregant in prison] that I was privy to a view that few of us ever get: a glimpse behind the walls into the masses of people that we, as a society, send outside the camp…I have thought about [him], his fellow prisoners, and our broken justice and prison systems every day since.”
—Rabbi Michael Lezak, Congregation Rodef Shalom, San Rafael, CA
Our work includes:
- Advocating for an end to police practices that result in disproportionate stops, arrests, and deaths of people of color.
- Organizing rabbis and their communities to protest police violence and to demand full investigations in cases of killings by police officers.
- Advocating for more just sentencing policies.
- Organizing to end prolonged solitary confinement, which international law experts have classified as torture.
- Helping Jewish communities to volunteer with incarcerated individuals and their families, employ the formerly incarcerated, and engage in local campaigns to change state criminal justice laws.
- Educating the Jewish community about why our current system of mass incarceration benefits none of us.
T’ruah’s Handbook for Jewish Communities Fighting Mass Incarceration provides background resources, sermon sparks, extensive Jewish materials, and ideas for how Jewish communities can take action.
April 20, 2021
“Although one police officer has been held accountable today, the conviction addresses merely a single instance of state violence.”
April 7, 2021
Jewish text on supporting the dignity of workers is clear. The Torah teaches, ‘You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land.’ (Deuteronomy 24:14) As we recently celebrated Passover and the Israelites’ liberation from Egypt, we are reminded of the need to treat workers justly and with dignity.
July 17, 2020
As Oregon Jewish clergy and members of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights, we unequivocally condemn unconstitutional kidnappings by unmarked federal agents, and call on you and President Trump to recall all federal forces from Portland immediately.