I’m an American Jew. I’m descended from Jews who immigrated to the United States from Europe in the early 1900s. Growing up, I attended a Hebrew day school, became a bar mitzvah, celebrated the High Holy Days and Hanukkah, went to a Jewish summer camp, traveled to Israel, kept kosher (at times) and ate a fair share of kugel, gefilte fish, and bagels with lox and shmear. But my Jewish experience has been about more than traditions, holidays, and matzo ball soup. Judaism instilled in me a passionate commitment to social justice which manifested in my role as an advocate for harm reduction.
Our guest blogger, Rabbi Dr. Rachel S. Mikva, is the Herman Schaalman Chair in Jewish Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary and Director of the Center for Jewish, Christian and Islamic Studies. Suddenly there’s bipartisan enthusiasm for criminal justice reform. Forty years after liberal and conservative forces joined to restrict discretionary sentencing, thirty years after launching a futile war on drugs, twenty years after a Democratic president signed the “three strikes” law, the winds are shifting. It is still politically dangerous to be seen as soft on crime, but “smart on crime” is in. We now talk about public safety rather than law and order.
“Clergy for a New Drug Policy” seeks to mobilize clergy across faiths in opposition to the War on Drugs, and in support of treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one. Here Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, Rector and Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at American Jewish University, presents a Jewish perspective on drug policy reform.
Today’s guest blogger is Roy Kaufmann, a public relations professional. He and his wife Claire Grusin Kaufmann, a sales and marketing consultant to the cannabis industry, are the co-founders of Le’Or, a start-up Jewish nonprofit focused on engaging the Jewish community to help end the Drug War and repair our broken criminal-justice system. Follow them on Twitter at @highmindedJews and visit online at www.illuminating.us.
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