Turkey and Interfaith Talk

It’s mid-November and we have transitioned from pumpkin spice lattes to actual pumpkin pie; Thanksgiving is around the corner. Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday to consider as an American Jew in that is nationally celebrated and steeped in ritual, but not directly connected to any one religious tradition. The upcoming holiday presents an opportunity to […]

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Ferguson clergy protest

In Advance of the Ferguson Grand Jury, What Have We Learned?

The grand jury in the Ferguson case is expected to meet today in what could be its final session. If a decision is made, it will likely not be made public until at least Sunday because the prosecutors are expected to provide law enforcement 48 hours notice.  The FBI has warned that the decision will […]

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Reform Jewish Movement Applauds New Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

Washington, D.C., November 20, 2014 – In response to President Obama’s executive action providing new protections for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

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Stop Violence Against Women

I-VAWA? WE-VAWA: We All Must Do Our Part to End Violence Against Women and Girls

One out of three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In some countries, it’s as many as seven in ten. Violence against women is a human rights violation that devastates lives, fractures communities and prevents women from fully contributing to the economic development of their countries.

Take a minute to think about the things we do every day: go to work, go to school, provide food for ourselves and for our families. We generally do not equate these tasks with putting ourselves in danger. But, that’s not the case everywhere. Often, the perpetrators of violence against women and girls commit that violence while women are on their way to work or to collect food and water, or while girls are on their way to school—that is, if they are allowed to go to school at all. Read more…


As We Celebrate Thanksgiving, Let’s Not Forget the Least Among Us

Next Wednesday, I am flying home from Washington DC to Boston to celebrate Thanksgiving. One of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions is to wake up a little earlier than my younger brother and sister would like and volunteer for Little Brothers of the Elderly, a non-profit that sends volunteers to the homes of elderly men and women throughout the Boston area to ensure that they have a happy Thanksgiving

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Today We Remember: Commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

Today, we remember:

Brittany Stergis, shot dead in her car in Cleveland, OH on December 5, 2013.

Kanday Hall, murdered and found in a field, in Baltimore, MD on June 3, 2014.

Aniya Oarker shot in the head in East Hollywood, CA on October 3, 2014.

Today, we remember. We remember these three individuals who were murdered in anti-transgender violence. And we remember the many other victims of anti-transgender violence this past year whose lives were ended too soon. And we remember that despite increased societal acceptance of transgender individuals, anti-transgender violence is still widespread.

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Camp Coleman logo

Joining the Olim Fellows for a Social Justice Weekend in Georgia

All told, I’ve spent almost a full year of my life at URJ summer camps, and over half of that year at Camp Coleman in Northeast Georgia. For many years, Camp Coleman was not only my summer home, but also one of the only places where I really felt comfortable in my own skin. So, when I was asked to come speak at the Olim Fellowship retreat there, I couldn’t say no. Read more…

Image capture from the Aid to the Church in Need report

Religious Freedom Reports Show the Work Left To Be Done

According to a new report published earlier this month in the twelfth edition of the World Report on Religious Freedom, issued by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, religious freedom is at risk. The report looks at the state of religious freedom in 196 countries between October 2012 and June 2014 by collecting first-hand data. The report measures religious freedom in each country by the following factors: the right to conversion, to build places of worship, to conduct missions and whether children are allowed to be educated according to the religious principles of their parents. The report notes that religious freedom is at risk in Europe and has been increasingly suppressed in the United States.

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Senior LA Sarah Greenberg submitting testimony at House Armed Services

House Subcommittee Hearing on Religious Accommodations in the Military, Today!

At 2pm this afternoon, the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel is having a hearing on Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services. This promises to be a fascinating hearing with a number of interesting people testifying before the committee:

  • Mr. Michael Berry, Senior Counsel, Director of Military Affairs, Liberty Institute
  • Dr. Ron Crews, Executive Director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
  • Mr. Rabbi Bruce Kahn, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret)
  • Mr. Travis Weber, Director, Center for Religious Liberty Family Research Council
  • Mr. Michael Weinstein, President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

You can watch the hearing live here.

This hearing comes at an auspicious time, when the Air Force released new regulations regarding religious expression. As we learn more about what the implementations of policy will mean for actual religious freedom and Establishment issues in the Armed Services, we will follow this closely.

In advance of the hearing today, RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser submitted testimony for the record (I submitted it in-person on her behalf), which is included below: Read more…

French president, Barack Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkel

U.S. Pledge to Green Climate Fund Important Step toward Curbing Climate Change

On Saturday, President Obama announced that the United States would contribute $3 billion towards the international Green Climate Fund, intended to help poorer nations address the devastating effects of climate disruption. The pledge, made in advance of the 2014 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru next month, places the U.S. as a leader in the global move towards mitigation of climate change and concurrent adaptation.

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There’s More to Gun Violence than Mental Illness

Newtown. Aurora. Tucson. These three shootings, at an elementary school in Connecticut, at a movie theater in Colorado and at a constituent meeting in Arizona, are just a few examples of the mass shootings that have captured the media’s attention in the past few years. While the shootings have sparked discussions on gun violence in this country, they have also led to conversations about the intersection of gun violence prevention and mental illness. In each of these cases, mental illness was at one point or another discussed as a potential cause of the violent crimes committed in these three towns. Whether the shooters in these attacks were mentally ill or not does not impact the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. Moreover, the focus on gun violence and mental health can be limiting.

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