Civil Rights

As Jews, we believe that every human being, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or physical or mental ability is deserving of full inclusion and every opportunity. This belief underpins our work to advance civil rights.

NCJW advocates for policies that promote equal rights, end discrimination, and encourage opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds, such as:

  • LGBTQ equality and inclusion, including fighting poverty, homelessness, violence, and discrimination;
  • Overhauling our broken and racially-biased criminal justice system, in which 2 million are currently incarcerated, disproportionately people of color;
  • Improving hate crime laws to protect marginalized communities from bias and violence;
  • Expanding opportunities for individuals with disabilities; and
  • Ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn and be educated.

From the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, NCJW has been and continues to be on the front lines helping to enact landmark civil rights legislation.

Check out our Civil Rights Action Resources

Economic Justice

A democratic society must fulfill its obligations to provide for the needs of those unable to provide for themselves. Yet, while the American Dream promises economic opportunity and hope for a better future, many people in this country face a very different reality. In the United States, poverty — not prosperity — is the reality for millions of individuals and families who daily make difficult choices between food, rent, medical bills, and other basic expenses. And the majority of those living in this reality are women.

NCJW has long worked for policies that address the needs of low-income and working Americans, including:

Minimum Wage. The $7.25 federal minimum wage has been stagnant since 2009, and many of the individuals living in poverty in the US today work full time jobs but still do not earn a “livable wage,” or an income that covers basic needs. More than half of women are minimum wage earners and nearly a third have children. Raising the minimum wage — and the tipped minimum wage — will lift incomes and benefit families.

Equal Pay. Women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man, a gap that is even wider for women of color. NCJW advocates for measures that would help close the gap, including updating and strengthening the Equal Pay Act, barring retaliation against workers who disclose their own wages to co-workers, and prohibiting employers from seeking a job applicant’s salary history.

Paid Leave. Only 14 percent of workers have access to paid leave, forcing most individuals to choose between earning a paycheck and caring for an ill parent, child, or themselves. Forty three million people do not even have access to a single paid sick day. The absence of paid leave policies in the United States most harms women — in particular women of color and those struggling to make ends meet — as women are disproportionately single parents and caregivers.

Employment Nondiscrimination. It’s currently legal in 31 states to be fired because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Employment discrimination is one of the reasons that LGBTQ individuals, particular those of color, face higher rates of poverty and homelessness. In addition, pregnant workers are frequently pushed out of their jobs or denied reasonable accommodations. NCJW advocates expanding employment nondiscrimination laws at the federal, state, and local levels.

Check out our Economic Justice Action Resources

Gender-Based and Sexual Violence

Intimate partner violence, sexual assault, harassment, and stalking affect millions of Americans. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million individuals. The numbers can be even higher for members of transgender and gender-queer communities. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic background.

NCJW helped draft and pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the first major law passed to end domestic violence, sexual assault, and other kinds of intimate partner violence. But the promise of VAWA has yet to be fulfilled. Dating partners are without protections afforded to other current or former intimate partners, including access to protective orders and protection from gun violence. Though stalking is a crime according to the federal government, the classification varies state to state, leaving victims vulnerable. Sexual violence, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, continues to be a pervasive problem on college campuses and in the US military.

In 2010 NCJW launched Higher Ground: NCJW’s Domestic Violence Campaign. Higher Ground to increase survivors’ autonomy by improving their economic status. And, we continue to strive to help develop and pass effective public policy to address intimate partner violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking to ensure increased emphasis on prevention, accountability for perpetrators, and resources and justice for survivors.

Check out our Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Action Resources

Gun Violence Prevention

The United States has higher rates of gun violence than any other developed nation in the world, with 33,000 individuals killed every year by guns. The proliferation of, and easy access to, guns has resulted in an epidemic of gun violence — from deadly domestic abuse to suicide and school shootings.

Support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people. Common-sense public safety laws like requiring gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, including closing the private sale loophole; banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; criminalizing gun trafficking; and eliminating loopholes that allow convicted stalkers and domestic abusers access to guns can reduce gun violence and save lives.

NCJW believes that the nation’s laws and policies should restrict and regulate guns to prevent gun violence. NCJW supports limiting the sale and distribution of firearms and the proliferation of weapons, in order to reduce the number of lives cut short and families destroyed by readily available firearms in the hands of violent perpetrators.

Check out our Gun Violence Prevention Action Resources

Human Needs

Our federal budget reflects the values and priorities of our nation. Each year, Congress passes budget and appropriations legislation that allocates federal dollars for government programs and services for the coming fiscal year. The outcome of the federal budget process has a significant impact on the lives of all Americans — especially women and children. Just as women and children make up a disproportionate number of those living in poverty, they also represent the largest population of recipients of many of the human needs programs, such as child care assistance, nutrition programs, and housing assistance, that take aim at poverty.


NCJW believes that the moral test of a nation is how it treats its most vulnerable members. In recent years, the United States has failed that test, cutting the budgets of human needs programs and diverting critical federal dollars to military spending. Federal investments must ensure that human needs programs are fully funded including health care, lifelong education, opportunities to work, income supplements when work is not possible, and affordable necessities, including food, housing, and caregiving for children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Check out our Human Needs Action Resources

Immigration and Refugees

Immigrants and refugees come to the US seeking better lives for themselves and their families. Yet billions of dollars are being spent to increase immigration law enforcement and raids to detain and deport immigrants — including children — with increasing frequency, tearing families and communities apart in the process. Refugees are currently in a similarly harmful position, with attempts to instate a religious ban against Muslim refugees, cut the number of refugees allowed into the US, and underfund the entire resettlement program.

Our Jewish values compel us to welcome the stranger, for once we were strangers. NCJW is fighting back against xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-refugee policies to ensure that our country continues to be a welcoming place.

Check out our Immigration and Refugees Action Resources