JFREJ has been organizing against police violence for over twenty years.

JFREJ's work on the policing dates back to 1999, when JFREJ members joined citywide organizing in response to the acquittal of the NYPD officers who killed Amadou Diallo.

As a core member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), JFREJ has worked to protect all New Yorkers’ civil rights and to win transparency, oversight and community control of the NYPD. JFREJ members were central to the passage of the Community Safety Act in 2013, the Right To Know Act in 2017, and the How Many Stops Act in 2024. In recent years, our approach to policing has shifted away from reforms, which we have seen time and time again the NYPD refuse to adopt, and in favor of abolition. We are ultimately organizing to abolish the NYPD and other punishment institutions that fail to protect — and often actively hurt — the communities they claim to serve.

Photo of Shoshana Brown speaking to a crowd with people behind her holding signs calling for the Right To Know Act

Abolition is the goal. Getting there is a long road. In 2023, we organized to:

1. Pass the How Many Stops Act in the New York City Council: This legislation consists of two common-sense bill that mandate more transparency from the NYPD. Transparency alone will not end police violence, but completing the picture of what policing really looks like in our city is an essential step towards holding police accountable and ensuring community safety. Click here to learn more. Click here to read about our victory!

2. Fight back against Mayor Adams' cruel Mental Health Directive: In December 2022, the Mayor announced a sweeping effort allowing law enforcement to involuntarily detain New Yorkers who are perceived to be suffering from a mental health crisis. Click here to read the letter from NYC Rabbis urging the Mayor to rescind the order.

3. Stop the Sweeps & ensure New Yorkers are Free 2 Pee: Tirdof: New York Jewish Clergy for Justice — a joint project of JFREJ and T'ruah — is mobilizing alongside VOCAL-NY to immediately end encampment sweeps & quality of life criminalization that target homeless New Yorkers. Click here to learn more.


Photo of a march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Marchers are carrying a banner that reads "Jews for Black Lives"Photo by Gili Getz

We know with absolute certainty that our belief in Black vision and leadership, and belief that Black Lives Matter, are enduring and unconditional. In 2016, the Movement for Black Lives released the groundbreaking Vision for Black Lives policy platform. The platform thrilled, moved, inspired, and challenged us. Many in the broader Jewish community — multiracial, and with diverse identities and diverse politics — had intense feelings, both about the platform and about our community's reaction to it.

JFREJ's response was to commit to the long-term process of supporting and wrestling together with the host of diverse issues and solutions proposed by the platform. We committed to showing our Jewish community that nothing can take our eyes off the prize in standing with the Movement for Black Lives to fight white supremacy. JFREJ's Jews of Color Caucus and Campaign for Police Accountability organized a #Jews4BlackLives month of action, which culminated in what was, at the time, the largest-ever mobilization of Jews for Black Lives Matter.

As an ally to the Justice Committee and the families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, our #Jews4BlackLives actions have helped bring attention to and even win some small measure of accountability for Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner, Eleanor Bumpers, Delrawn Small, Mohammed Bah, Saheed Vassell, Kawaski Trawick, and the too many other New Yorkers who have been killed by police.

Photo of people marching behind a "Jews Support Black Lives Matter" banner

In the years since, JFREJ has continued to lead the way for American Jews to join and support the Movement for Black Lives, particularly during the Uprising for Black Lives that followed the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Our members organized, turned out in the streets, created powerful artwork, made thousands of calls to city council members asking them to redistribute funding from the NYPD to resource communities, and created and released a set of #Jews4BlackLives toolkits drawing strength from our Jewish rituals and traditions to support Jews taking action against anti-Black racism and white supremacy.

Photo of a person with a side undercut speaking into a megaphone

JFREJ organized #40DaysOfTeshuvah, where, for 40 days straight in the summer of 2020, we gathered every evening to blow the shofar, cry out for spiritual deliverance from systemic racism, and demand justice and freedom for Black lives. See photos from the 40-day action here, and watch a trailer for the short film about it below:

Photo of two people holding signs calling to fire the officers responsible for killing Ramarley Graham

Jews have a direct stake in fighting for Black liberation; true safety comes through solidarity with our neighbors in the fights for housing, healthcare, education, a living wage, and all the things we need to live full, happy lives. The same right-wing police unions and status quo politicians that enable white supremacy threaten our safety as Jews too.

We believe that all Jews have a responsibility to rise up in defense of our neighbors and civil rights. The Jewish community must defend Jews of Color — especially Black and brown Jews — who are directly impacted by discriminatory and abusive policing.

Alongside our partners in the police accountability and abolition movements, we are fighting for a city where the rights and dignity of all people are cherished and protected, and where Black Lives Matter.

Safety Beyond Policing

JFREJ remains on the front lines of American Jewish community organizing for safety beyond policing. Following the devastating attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, more Jews than ever around the country were asking—how can we protect our people? How do we ensure that the choices we make prioritize everyone’s safety and keep our values and humanity intact?

JFREJ responded by creating the Community Safety Pledge in partnership with Jews spanning organizations, synagogues that have used these tools, and our allies in the NYC police accountability movement. Download the Community Safety Pledge [PDF] here. This was a key step in our work to reimagine public safety and demand more effective methods to achieve Jewish safety that do not put any of our neighbors and members of our own community at risk.

In recent years, with a spike in antisemitic and other forms of hate violence, our work to ensure safety beyond policing has focused on hate violence prevention. Learn more.