This is an exciting time in the movement for justice in New York State, and we need your help to keep doing this critically important work.
A group of clergy and faith leaders delivered a letter signed by over one hundred of their clergy colleagues around the state, urging for an expansion of the millionaire’s tax and an investment of those funds into programs for the neediest New Yorkers.
There are just four weeks left in the state budget process, and we don’t yet know whether Albany will raise the money needed to tackle poverty and inequality.
At the end of last year, the New York Times published a series of investigative articles exposing racial injustice at every level of the New York State Prison system. For the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, their family members, their communities, and anyone who has paid attention to the criminal justice system in our state, these revelations were not new.
Nationally, we face an incoming administration poised to roll back worker protections, access to healthcare, environmental regulations, safety net programs, and the rights of immigrants and minorities. Here in New York, our state remains the most unequal in the country, with more than 3 million people living in poverty - including 1 in 5 children.
Monday, January 9 faith and community leaders held a statewide call to action in Albany and online, lifting up our shared moral values and calling on New York to be a leader in promoting social and economic justice.
Like many of you, I am struggling to come to grips with the national election results and the cumulative impact of months of hateful rhetoric. I fear for how both that rhetoric and future policy changes will affect the poor, immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, and the working class. As a queer person, I am feeling personally more vulnerable today.
Yet I also know that all across New York and the United States, people woke up this morning with renewed commitment to the work ahead. In the midst of our shock, our grief and our fear, we know that we must continue our struggles, and we must do so with more wisdom, compassion, courage, grit and perseverance than ever.
All jokes aside, I am not fleeing to Canada. And neither are you — right?
Now is a time to dig deeper than we ever have and to do so together. We have to think bigger and organize better. We have to cross lines of race, religion, class, gender, orientation and geography – right here in New York State. We have to be unabashed and unwavering in our moral commitment to the dignity and rights of every human being without exception.
We must do all of this with enough humility to learn from our failings and enough faith to never give up.
We are not going anywhere.
With hope and love,
Rev. Emily McNeill
For Jews, fasting is the trademark religious practice of Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement for personal and communal wrongdoing. Yom Kippur emphasizes the importance of repentance and forgiveness. Refraining from eating and drinking for a full day is a ritual accompaniment to our feelings of contrition and to our commitments to being better people in the coming year. Denying ourselves the basic necessities of food and drink forces us to remember that the world does not revolve around us and our desires. We also fast to cultivate empathy with the poor and the needy, who often go without adequate life necessities on a daily basis. For these and other reasons, Jews – along with so many other people of faith – fast on specific holy days like Yom Kippur.
Over 100 people gathered outside the Capitol Building Monday as New York clergy and activists joined their counterparts in 27 other state capitals for a “Moral Day of Action.” The rallies were held to deliver a “Higher Ground Moral Declaration” to governors and elected officials, calling on them to respond to the urgent needs of the poor, people who are ill, children, immigrants, communities of color, and religious minorities.