Sincethe second day of Passover, Jews have been participating in the ritual of counting the Omer. As we count the Omer, we look forward to the celebration of receiving the Torah at Sinai and the joyous celebrations of harvest and springtime. .Read more
In late April, Nigerian armed forces rescued 93 women and 200 girls who had been held by the terrorist group Boko Haram. When news broke of the rescue, there was early hope that these girls were the schoolgirls abducted from a Chibok school in April of last year—the subjects of the global campaign to “Bring […]Read more
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center, today joined with a diverse group of faith leaders calling on President Obama to take immediate action to address the Rohingan humanitarian crisis in Southeast Asia. The well-documented persecution of the Rohingya minority community in western Burma and the resulting refugee crisis in the region is […]Read more
Growing up as an Israeli-American, Shavuot meant the time on my grandparent’s kibbutz when the workers from the fields and the dairy would showcase to the community the first fruits of the season. In a big community-wide gathering, fresh sheaves of wheat, fruits and vegetables, newborn calves would be paraded across a stage alongside kibbutz mothers carrying babies born in the last year. This tradition is in keeping with our sacred text, which tells us: “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Eternal your God” (Exodus 23:19).
Continuing the same trend we’ve seen over many months, Congress has not made progress to address the crisis of gun violence, but federal inaction hasn’t stopped states from enacting their own laws. In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Oregon Firearms Safety Act, which will make background checks universal on all gun sales in the state, making it the eighth state to do so. And on the other side of the Columbia River, Washington enacted the Sheena Henderson Act, which allows family members to be notified when police return guns to loved ones, when those guns had been taken for safety considerations. The act was named after a Spokane woman who was shot to death the day after police returned guns to her husband who suffered from mental illness after he was judged not to be a safety threat. Read more…
On Tuesday, the country’s second largest city, Los Angeles, voted to raise its minimum wage from its current wage of $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020. This raise will impact over 40% of the city’s workforce, which is currently earning less than $15 an hour. This increase passed with a vote of 14-1 in the City Council and exemplifies the momentum that is being felt around the country along with local efforts to raise the minimum wage. Seattle, Chicago, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland have all had recent minimum wage increases. In addition, there are proposals on the docket in Louisville, Washington, D.C., New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, and Portland, Maine.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post wrote about the topics most clergy members discuss from the pulpit as a way to illustrate that the issues most associated with communities of faith — reproductive rights and LGBT rights/same-sex marriage, due much in part to the Religious Right — is not what is actually happening on the ground. Read more…
This coming Monday (May 25) we will observe Memorial Day, a federal holiday dedicated to remembering the people who died while serving in the military. There are many Americans who have died in battle whose names we will never know because their names were lost to history. However, there are many service members who lost their lives in the line of duty whose true names we will never know because they were never able to share them: transgender service members.
This week marks the start of a new book of Torah: the Book of Numbers. This week’s portion, B’midbar, or “In the Wilderness”, recounts the census-taking of entire Israelite community commanded of Moses by God. The Israelites are sorted by tribe and all men over the age of 20 are counted, as God commands, “head by head,” with special instructions for the Levites. Read more…
Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Representative John Lewis (D-GA), and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) reintroduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) would prevent discrimination in public adoption and foster care on the basis of potential parents’ – or the child’s – sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. By doing so, this vital legislation would help ensure the ability of thousands of children to find permanent, loving families.