Freedom to Thrive

“Freedom to Thrive” is a powerful framework for thinking about big change in a big city.

At JFREJ, Freedom to Thrive isn’t just one campaign — its the set of values that knits together a number of our key initiatives. Our vision — and the vision of the partners we work with all across New York — is a city where communities have everything they need to prosper and thrive, we’re empowered to define “safety” for ourselves, and right-wing police unions don’t set the agenda and starve the city for resources.

Read more about each campaign, learn about upcoming events and find out how you can get involved.

The choice to resource punitive systems instead of stabilizing and nourishing ones does not make communities safer. Instead, study after study shows that a living wage, access to holistic health services and treatment, educational opportunity, and stable housing are far more successful in reducing crime than police or prisons.

Freedom to Thrive report, Center for Popular Democracy

Like many of our partners, JFREJ's work is influenced by the Center for Popular Democracy's Freedom to Thrive report, which examines racial disparities, policing landscapes, and budgets in twelve jurisdictions across the country, comparing the city and county spending priorities with those of community organizations and their members. While many community members assert that increased spending on police do not make them safer, cities and counties continue to rely overwhelmingly on policing and incarceration spending while under-resourcing less damaging, more fair, and more effective safety initiatives. The report also highlights current or prospective campaigns that seek to divest resources away from police and prisons towards communities and their development. This is called the invest/divest framework.

Our Freedom to Thrive Campaigns

Ending Police Violence: Jews4BlackLives & Communities United for Police Reform

JFREJ has been fighting for police accountability for over twenty years. As a core member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), we have worked to protect all New Yorkers’ civil rights and to win transparency, oversight and community control of the NYPD. As an ally to the Justice Committee and the families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, our Jews4BlackLives mobilizations have demanded the prosecution and firing of the NYPD officers responsible for these crimes. Learn more here.

Hate Free Zones: Neighbors standing up to Islamophobia and xenophobia

Since the 2016 election, JFREJ has been a member of the Hate Free Zones coalition, led by DRUM (Desis Rising Up & Moving), which fights to protect communities from Islamophobia, xenophobia, state violence and hate violence.

A Hate Free Zone is “a community defense system that will allow us to defend our communities from workplace raids, deportations, mass criminalization, violence, and systemic violation of our rights and dignity.” Learn more here.

Neighbors Beyond Amazon: NYC for the people

JFREJ is part of the coalition that kept Amazon out of New York City and continues to fight against their brand of antidemocratic, anti-worker monopoly. We see the fight against Amazon as a synthesis of our ongoing work for economic justice, an end to discriminatory police surveillance, against antisemitism, and for community safety and community self-determination. Learn more here.

NYC Against Hate: Joining with our neighbors to stop hate violence

The NYC Against Hate coalition was convened by JFREJ to respond to skyrocketing hate violence in New York City. For the first time, a diverse coalition of community-based organizations — including Jewish, immigrant, Latinx, Muslim, Arab & South Asian, Black, and LGBTQGNC populations — will coordinate their responses to incidents of hate violence in New York City. We need to divest from policing and carceral responses, and invest in approaches that prevent violence by educating communities and equipping them with the tools they need to keep each other safe in interactions with ICE, the police, and street harassers. Learn more here.

Together with our allies, we are fighting to:

Divest from the punitive systems that only perpetuate harm and suffering.

  • Reduce the overall size and scope of the NYPD.
  • Reduce the role of NYPD and prosecutors in responding to hate violence.
  • Ban NYPD use of surveillance technologies.
  • Remove police as first responders for people in emotional distress or crisis.
  • End multi-billion dollar contracts between ICE and tech companies like Amazon and Palantir.
  • Win justice for New Yorkers who have lost their lives or suffered abuse at the hands of NYPD and ICE.

Invest in solutions that support our communities’ safety and ability to thrive. Build and sustain a neighborhood-based deportation defense network.

  • Invest in community-based restorative solutions to prevent, respond to, and heal instances of hate violence.
  • Create safety and security protocols for synagogues and Jewish communal spaces that reduce reliance on police.
  • Develop an alternative 911 system for people in emotional distress or crisis.