Ferguson clergy protest

The Continuing Fight for Justice in Ferguson

Though the media coverage may have slowed, protests in Ferguson are still ongoing. The challenges of racial divides and mistrust that afflict communities across the U.S. are a tragic emblem of how much work remains to be done to overcome divisions rooted in our nation’s history and the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities. Noting […]

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Vote signs, American flags

Placing Stumbling Blocks Before People with Disabilities: Voting Barriers and Disenfranchisement

Over the past couple of months, my colleagues and I have written about the barriers that prevent many Americans from voting. From voter ID laws to cuts in early voting, minorities are being disproportionately affected by changing voter laws. In addition, people experiencing homelessness,   survivors of domestic violence, and transgender Americans face additional barriers to […]

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Do Not Stand Idly By As Your Neighbor Bleeds: We Need to End Gun Violence

More than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year in this country, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Each year, there are more school shootings, more incidents of gun violence in homes and more suicides by guns and yet, each year brings another round of congressional inaction to address this violence. But, there […]

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ARZA, representing Reform Judaism

Thoughts on the World Zionist Congress Elections from ARZA

By Rabbi Bennett Miller

The next year marks an important time for Zionists around the world, as the first elections to the World Zionist Congress (WZC) in five years will be taking place. The WZC, which has met regularly since the First Zionist Congress in 1897, carries important historical weight and controls funding for projects in Israel, so at this critical juncture in Israeli politics, Reform Zionist voices need to be heard.  ARZA, which represents a strong Reform Jewish voice for Israel and Zionism, has created toolkit for the upcoming elections. Here is a piece from ARZA Chair, Rabbi Bennett Miller, on the importance of voting and how to encourage other to participate.

Earlier this month, Jews the world over poured into synagogues to “afflict our souls” on the holy day of Yom Kippur – to search within ourselves to atone, forgive and ultimately emerge renewed.

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Youth GOTV

Go Forth To the Polls This Election Day and Make Your Voice Heard

We are less than a week away from Tuesday November 4: Election Day 2014.

The election this fall is a very exciting and important time for voters across the country to make their voices heard, with numerous opportunities to weigh in on races for the House and Senate, state legislature, state executive positions, and mayoral and city council races. In addition, 40 states will also be voting on 139 ballot measures, such as Massachusetts’ Ballot Question 4 on Paid Sick Days and Nebraska’s Initiative 425 on raising the minimum wage. Four states will be voting on minimum wage ballot measures this election day. There are also important ballot initiatives happening in other states: Washington State’s Ballot Initiative I-594 which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases, California’s Proposition 47, which would dramatically change California’s criminal justice system, and Tennessee’s Amendment One, which would undo language in the state’s constitution saying that the right to choose is a fundamental right. It is crucial that individuals get to the polls to make their voices heard on these important policy areas!

In some states, it still is not too late to register to vote, as Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia all have same day Election Day registration. This means that if you have not yet registered to vote and live in those places, then there is still time for you to go to the polls or to the Board of Elections office to register, but in most states, the voter registration deadline has already passed.

We are excited to promote voter advocacy efforts and encourage individuals to go to the polls and vote.. The RAC also has a special guide to Get Out the Votea Do’s and Don’ts Guide for Non-Profits for the election season, and materials aimed specifically for first time voters. We also have graphics made to share on Twitter or to make your Facebook profile picture and  Facebook cover photo.

As heirs to a tradition of civic engagement, American Jews must participate in elections to ensure that our country’s policies at the local, state, and national levels reflect our commitment to social justice. Our tradition teaches us that we are collectively responsible to choose our elected leaders, and in this week’s Torah portion, we learn that “God said to Abram, ‘go forth,’” or “lech lecha” (Genesis 12:1). On Tuesday, November 4, make sure that you go forth to the polls and let your voice be heard.

Why We Must Restore Voting Rights for the Formerly Incarcerated

We are less than one week away from Election Day- a day when we will make our voices heard and show politicians what our priorities are. Yet, about 5.85 million Americans will be denied the right to vote next week because of laws that prohibit people with felony convictions from voting. This obstacle to participation in the democratic process is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system. As a result, 1 in every 13 African Americans is unable to vote, and in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, more than 1 in 5 black adults is disenfranchised. Read more…

Marriage Equality and the RAC

Beyond Marriage Equality: the Challengers Facing the LGBT Elderly Community

Many workers look forward to the day they can retire and spend their days relaxing rather than working for the remainder of their lives. Unfortunately, many LGBT people do not have this luxury. Due to a lifetime of discrimination, older LGBT people face a variety of challenges at much higher rates than their straight peers.

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All Eyes on Reproductive Rights: Is Tennessee the Next Texas?

On RACblog, we’ve been following the restrictive Texas law that attempted to shut down more than half of the state’s reproductive health clinics. If you’re as appalled as we are by this effort to limit women’s reproductive freedom, I have upsetting news: Tennessee could be next. On November 4, voters in the Volunteer State will decide on Amendment One, which would undo language in the state constitution that defines abortion as a fundamental right. Currently, the Tennessee state legislature does not have the power to enact abortion restrictions, a welcome, if surprising protection in a region with strong opposition to reproductive rights. With the passage of Amendment One, Tennessee lawmakers would have the authority to enforce restrictive policies like those in Texas, like the mandatory 72-hour waiting period in Missouri, or like the 20-week bans that limit abortion access in nine states. Read more…

Join the GreenFaith Webinars and Learn about Energy Stewardship!

With the High Holiday season now officially over, we’ve tasted sweet apples on Rosh Hashanah and thrown bread into the ocean on Yom Kippur; we’ve talked about food justice in the sukkah and prayed for rain on Shemini Atzeret; we’ve rolled our Torah scrolls back and begun again at B’reishit, reminded of our obligation to “till and tend” the earth.

Lech Lecha is this week’s Torah portion, in which God tells Abraham to leave his family and start anew and so do we go forward into the new Jewish year. What will we do this year differently than the last? How can we go forward both to improve congregations and Jewish communities and to engage more deeply as Jews in the world around us?

This year, pledge your congregation to join GreenFaith for Energy Shield certification. GreenFaith Certification is a comprehensive environmental program that empowers your community to transform into a religious leader for the climate justice. With processes that work, programs that will engage all corners of the community, over 200 free resources, one-on-one consultation, and networking with other faith communities, the Certification Program offers more than any other program for faith communities? in the country.

Join us on three consecutive Fridays from 10/31 to 11/14 at 12 p.m. ET and GreenFaith will walk you through the 13 most effective steps for energy conservation in a Jewish setting!

Register for the training seriesregister even if you can’t make all three webinars, and GreenFaith will send you the recordings.  You will gain valuable tips, guidance, and resources to get you started on your energy conservation efforts before the winter weather arrives. Lech Lecha: let’s go forward towards a new, environmentally aware and energy efficient congregations this year.

Not Just the Federal Level: States Can Also Work To Raise The Wage

Earlier this month, we called on Congress to raise the minimum wage on 10/10 (October 10), by passing The Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R 1010) and The Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737), two bills that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour through a series of gradual increases.

Yet even though Congress is on recess until November 12, this absence does not mean that individuals are no longer fighting to combat economic inequality. As the conversation on increasing the minimum wage moves from the federal level to the states, there are four measures on the ballot this November that would raise the wage..

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Yes on Question 4 in Massachusetts; earned sick time now

Double Booked: In Massachusetts, Ballot Question 4 Brings Us Home

By Rabbi Matthew Soffer

When I read the language Question 4 (a ballot question to ensure earned sick time in the Commonwealth), and I contemplate how Jewish values relate, I’m drawn particularly to that fundamental paradigm of home vs. exile, which is so central to Judaism. Obviously, the emergence of the State of Israel gave physical, geographical shape to that exile/home binary, but fundamentally we know that exile vs. home is a metaphysical issue. That our tradition demands that we recognize exile when we see it, that we mourn over it, and that we fight to come home.

From the literal exiles of 586 BCE to 70CE, and in the Rabbinic Period when the bayit (the home), the dinner table to be more specific, according to one Talmudic voice, replaced the altar in the Temple: fighting to come home, in our tradition, is “how we roll.”
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