Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Day 9: Bend the Arc

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Today is Day 9 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to “Tweet Your Faith.” Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

People of faith bring a number of key perspectives to contemporary society. In a world that too often bows at the altar of radical individualism, we argue for the value of community. Where communities are intolerant of difference, we argue for the dignity and value of each human being. To those who view faith as a source of suffering rather than healing, we offer examples of transformative social movements that were firmly based in faith: the abolition of slavery in the United States; the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa; and India’s casting off of colonialism, among many others.

My organization, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, has much in common with the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. We are mobilizing the Jewish community to hold America to its promise as a land of opportunity for all. This nation has provided incredible opportunity for Jews, many of whom immigrated with nothing but the clothes on their backs. We are a community of Jews working to ensure that our nation is one where basic fairness and the common good underpin social and economic policy – not just for Jews, but for all who live here.

While our work is based in and inspired by Jewish tradition and history, we work across lines of race and faith in communities from coast to coast. In doing so, we affirm that we are interconnected and that our fates are inextricably linked. We believe that when any group of people is treated wrongly, everyone in our nation is harmed.

Faiza Ali, a participant in Bend the Arc’s Community Organizing Residency, an interfaith training program for community organizers, has taken this to heart. Faiza, a Muslim, works with a coalition largely composed of Christian churches to find solutions to community problems. Her commitment to social justice is based in her religious belief, but it in no way conflicts with the diverse group of congregants she works with. Her commitment to multi-faith action is exactly what Bend the Arc strives to foster.

In addition to our work in communities, we are taking a stand in Washington, D.C. for a tax system that is fair, progressive, and that works for everyone. I recently joined other faith leaders, including Unitarian Universalists, for “Rabbis, Imams, Pastors and Nuns on the Bus,” to encourage our elected officials to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and to end destructive and unnecessary tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Though our practices differ, people of faith share a tradition of service and the belief that we must work together to raise up those in need.

When we look at news around the world, we often see evidence that religion can be a source of conflict. By providing concrete evidence to the contrary, we show that religion truly can be a unifying force and help address the roots of suffering in our society. As it says in the Talmud, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” And when we work in interfaith partnership, we can accomplish so much more together.


Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block is Senior Director of Leadership Initiatives and Rabbi-in-Residence for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.

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Day 8: Reflect on Legacy

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Today is Day 8 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to reflect on what aspects of the campaign have spoken to you the most so far, share that reflection with a family member or friend, and encourage them to join in. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

Time flies–we have reached the end of our first week of the Thirty Days of Love and what a journey it has been already! Over the course of the last week, we have honored the legacies of inspiring justice-makers from Dr. King and Cesar Chavez, to those who have worked for LGBTQ equality and reproductive justice.

Today, we ask that you take some time to think about what we have discussed so far. What messages resonated the most? How might you continue to honor legacy throughout the rest of the Thirty Days? Can you carve out some time each day to journal, light a candle in the morning for a quiet moment of reflection, or write a note to someone who inspires you?

Tomorrow, we will embark on the second week of the Thirty Days and focus on how we can “Think Interfaith” in our work for love and justice. For the moment, let us ground ourselves spiritually and prepare to undertake the rest of this journey together.

In faith,

Meredith Lukow
Program Assistant
Standing on the Side of Love

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Day 7: Help Make Us “Sizzle”

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Today is Day 7 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to join our Facebook chat today at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the first week of our Thirty Days of Love–what a journey it has already been! I have been so moved to read the words of our partners, from Michelle Alexander encouraging us to start a conversation on mass incarceration, to celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe, to hearing from Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter. Wow.

Now, we want to hear from you! Join our chat on Facebook today at 4pm ET/1pm PT and tell us what you envision for the future of our campaign.

We want to talk about how we can continue to not only make our work as loving as possible, but also how to give it some pizazz, some spice. Never done a Facebook chat before? No worries–simply visit our Facebook page at the appropriate time and add a comment to our post introduing the chat.

Here at the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign HQ, we shorten our really fantastic (but long) name down to SSL, or the first letters of the prominent words of the campaign. The fun part? We pronounce SSL as “sizzle” and it is a reminder to us to keep what we do fun, and fresh, and well, sizzling! We’ll share these and other fun facts during our chat, so join us today.

If you can’t join the chat, please feel free to email us at love@uua.org with questions in advance and we can share our responses both during the chat, and directly to you.

Let’s sizzle together,

Jennifer Toth
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side of Love

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Using the Inauguration as a Reminder to Rededicate Ourselves

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Photobooth volunteers (Michelle Molitor, Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, Caroline Hill, Carmen Carrera), with Associate Minister Rev. Dr. Susan Newman and Social Justice Minister Cathy Rion Starr.

One couldn’t ignore the Presidential Inauguration here in the nation’s Capitol. So at All Souls Church in Washington, DC, we held our own inaugural ball on Sunday  to celebrate all the hard work of the election and to rededicate ourselves to the challenges ahead. As our Senior Minister the Rev. Rob Hardies says, “We’re not just inaugurating a president, we’re inaugurating a people.”

The live band kept the dance floor full as Unitarian Universalists and others dressed in better-than-Sunday-best danced, talked, and laughed with each other.  Meanwhile, in the corner of the hall, we captured snapshots of attendees with the President.  But this wasn’t just any photobooth!  The banner above the (cardboard) President read: “Mr. President, I pledge my commitment to….”  Our distinguished guests (aka, congregants) held signs for our priority justice issues.  The photobooth added another element of fun to the party (and to coffee hour after worship that morning), but it also reminded us that it’s time to recommit ourselves to build a movement for peace, environmental justice, migrant rights, affordable housing, and more.

 The photobooth reminded us that now is not the time to sit idly by, watching to see if Obama can continue the legacy of “Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall,” but rather, now is the time to rededicate ourselves to bending the arc of the universe toward justice, together.

Yes, we plan to deliver the photos to the White House, but more than that, we will follow up with all those who got their photo taken (check out some of our photos here) to make sure they’re engaged with our justice ministries.  Together, we will keep working to “inaugurate a people”  and to build a movement of spiritually grounded, strategic, and fun-loving people of faith.

In faith,

Cathy Rion Starr
Director of Social Justice Ministries
All Souls Church – Unitarian

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Day 6: Inspired by my grandfather, César Chávez

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Today is Day 6 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to think about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.

“The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being, but it is also the most true to our nature” – César Chávez

Growing up, I was in awe of my grandfather, César Chávez, as I watched his tireless work for the fair treatment of farm workers—an unwavering dedication that changed the lives of millions of people. My grandfather taught immigrants to read, orchestrated massive strikes, advocated for better wages and working conditions, and engaged in civil disobedience. The way he lived his life inspired me to make a lifetime commitment of my own to civil rights, the labor movement, and community organizing. During this week, when the beautiful Standing on the Side of Love community honors the legacy of those social justice leaders who came before us, I am proud to share how my grandfather inspired me.

My grandfather believed in giving power to the people so they could stand up for themselves. For strength, he drew upon Catholic teachings about goodwill, and he engaged in several spiritual fasts to affirm his personal commitment to non-violence. He once said, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” Indeed, my grandfather organized across lines of religion and culture. He cared about many disenfranchised groups, speaking out for other unions, against racism, and for LGBTQ rights, animal rights, and peace.

Honoring my grandfather’s legacy, I spent eight years as political director of United Farmworkers Union, the organization he helped co-found over 40 years ago. I also became active in fighting Prop. 8, performing commitment ceremonies to set an example of Latino community support for marriage equality, and helped form the Latino and African American Leadership Alliance to bring two historically disenfranchised communities together to forge peace and unity.

I also draw my inspiration from people all around me today, such as the organizers of Alianza Campesina. In a few months, I will bring 100 women involved in this farmworker women coalition to Washington, D.C. for a U.S. government interagency briefing where they will tell their stories—about wage and hour violations, hardships faced by those who are undocumented, and sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

During this Thirty Days of Love, as you embark on your spiritual journey for social justice, join me in thinking about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making.

Carry that inspiration with you as you continue to create incredible change in our world.

Sí, se puede,

Christine Chávez

Christine Chávez serves as the Farmworker Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a new position in the USDA focusing on how the Department can better serve the farmworker population.

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