Organizing for Social Justice
GBIO is working with sister organizations to reinstate laws against usury and to cap credit card interest rates.
The Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) recognizes Beth El Temple Center as a "Just Congregation" for its commitment to social justice. Just Congregations, including ours, integrate action for the public good with other congregation activities. This vision of Tikkun Olam encompasses mitzvot, good deeds, tzedakah, charitable acts of justice and righteousness, and tzedek, working to overcome root causes of social injustice.
Beth El Temple Center addresses root causes of social injustice in many ways, for example through some activities of the Social Action Committee, religious school programs, and the congregation's youth groups. As one approach to combating social injustice, BETC has been a member of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) since 2005. GBIO is comprised of more than 50 congregations of different faiths in the greater Boston area representing about 55,000 people. Our work with GBIO supports our mission of Tikkun Olam and also strengthens our BETC community.
What is GBIO?
GBIO Campaigns and Accomplishments
- By joining together with congregations of several faiths, we can act more powerfully to help "repair the world." We live in a multiracial, multiethnic society and GBIO puts the BETC community in touch with people with whom we might otherwise not work. Together we address common problems and shared interests, gain a more powerful voice in policy discussions, and are part of a broader community to craft solutions.
- GBIO works to coalesce, train, and organize Greater Boston communities across religious, racial, ethnic, class, and neighborhood lines in pursuit of social justice.
- GBIO’s primary goals are to initiate actions and programs to solve local community and economic problems by developing local leadership to organize and fight for the public good.
- GBIO is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and with the URJ's Just Congregations initiative.
Among the issues that BETC has addressed or is addressing via GBIO:
- Current GBIO campaigns include: anti-usury and affordable access to higher education. GBIO is working with sister organizations to reinstate laws against usury and to cap credit card interest rates, which are bankrupting millions of economically vulnerable people. All faith traditions enjoin the practice of usury.
- Aging with Dignity (elder care issues).
- Youth Safety (including after-school care in Arlington).
- GBIO helped defeat the ballot initiative to repeal the state income tax, which, if passed, would have decimated social services. For this campaign, Beth El Temple Center, and four sister congregations, received a 2009 Fain Award from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
- Governor Deval Patrick and other high-ranking political figures in Massachusetts publicly credited GBIO with playing a vital role in pushing for passage of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act, which has resulted in about 96 percent of Massachusetts residents having health insurance, the highest proportion of any state.
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