Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that I was the oldest audience member in the Broadway theater last weekend, except for parents with their pre-teens. “Newsies” is, after all, a Disney musical. In our standing room only “seats,” my friend and I were able to dance along to all of the songs we [...]Read more
Yesterday, rabbis from across America came to Washington D.C. to raise their voices in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The rabbis participating in the advocacy day spoke with key legislators about the bipartisan Senate immigration bill introduced last month, expressing their support for the legislation, offering ways to continue to strengthen it and discussing strategies [...]Read more
Congress may be at a standstill when it comes to passing legislation that affects the environment, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening on climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is getting ready to release new regulations on Tier 3 standards.Essentially, the EPA is considering whether to reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline, [...]Read more
All eyes are on Grapevine, Texas today as the Boy Scouts of America begins the annual meeting of its National Council. Earlier this year the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would postpone a reconsideration of its policy prohibiting gay scouts and scout leaders until the meeting this week (see the letter that Rabbi [...]Read more
The Agape Health Team has been offering annual temporary medical clinics on the island of La Gonave, Haiti for over 10 years, staffed by a combination of volunteers from the United States and Haiti. Eno Mondesir, Ph.D., a public health official and Protestant minister who was born on the island, founded the team. After the devastating earthquake of January 2013, volunteers from the Reform Congregation of Temple Isaiah in Lexington, Massachusetts joined the team in a spirit of tikkun olam (“repair the world”). Since then, a productive partnership has been developed between the Boston area Haitian-American community and congregants from Temple Isaiah. The Temple Isaiah Sisterhood and Social Action Committee have provided crucial financial support, in 2010, 2011, and 2012 the Agape Health Team planned and operated one-week clinics on La Gonave, seeing several hundred patients each year. It also does research and planning to determine how to best improve public health on La Gonave.
On May 2, Rhode Island’s governor signed a marriage equality bill, making it the tenth state to take this important step. Shortly afterwards, Delaware and Minnesota also passed marriage bills, making this a remarkable spring of advancement towards equality.
I composed the following reflection after the last critical step in the long process of advocacy and legislative debate, the hearing held by the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee in March. Read more…
Yesterday, Reform Jews from across the country lifted up their voices together to demand comprehensive immigration reform that does justice to our American and Reform Jewish values. Over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of our communities. Families face up to decades long backlogs in acquiring visas, workers are left without protections, children are left behind as parents are deported, and LGBT Americans cannot sponsor the visa of a spouse. Yesterday, hundreds of Reform Jews across our nation called to tell our Senators: we can, and we must, do better. Read more…
The Community First Choice option expands access to home- and community-based care in your state, leading to better health outcomes for older adults and individuals with disabilities. We are taught in Pirkei Avot to not separate ourselves from our community, but too often people with disabilities are forced to do just that. Urge your governor and state legislators to implement this option, allowing increased matching funds for more services to more people.
Earlier this month, the RAC co-sponsored a screening of the documentary “The Invisible War” about sexual assault in the military. This wasn’t the first time I had heard of, or even seen parts of, this film. It wasn’t the first time I was appalled by the injustices, angry at the violations or moved by the testimonies. But it was the first time I left feeling that, finally, others were paying attention.
If there’s one new sleight-of-hand term we’ve learned in the past few months, it’s “flexibility.” Last week, flexibility gained a new meaning, as the House of Representatives passed the so-called Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013. Flexibility in this bill, though, actually means less flexibility, less choice, less time and less money for working families.
This bill proposes to grant workers more flexibility by allowing them to convert overtime hours into future vacation time, instead of earning extra pay. Speaker John Boehner says that this would grant working parents the flexibility to choose more time off when they need it: “This week, we’ll pass [Representative] Martha Roby’s bill to help working moms and dads better balance their lives between work and their responsibilities as parents.” In reality, though, this bill is nothing but bad news for parents.
On June 14, Iranians will go to the polls to elect their next president. While the world watches to see what course the next Iranian government will take, we at the RAC thought that it might be helpful to break down the Iranian election in advance of the vote.
While the president of a country is generally regarded as the most important figurehead of the country he or she governs, Iran does not fit this generalization. In Iran, power rests with the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Khamenei. In addition to controlling the country’s media and appointing the head of the judiciary and leaders of Iran’s armed forces, the Ayatollah is responsible for appointing half of the 12-member Guardian Council. The Guardian Council exercises a veto right over any legislation and, importantly, is responsible for vetting and approving all presidential candidates.
Although the Guardian Council has not yet announced its list of approved candidates (which will be shortened from the nearly 700 that declared their candidacy), the main presidential contenders are relatively clear. According to a Guardian Council ruling, we should not expect to see any women among the contenders, as they are outlawed from running for office by the Iranian constitution.
The list of likely candidates can be broken into three camps. Camp 1 (indeed the only camp with multiple contenders) is comprised of the Supreme Leader’s picks. These include the Iranian Speaker of Parliament, the Mayor of Tehran, a senior advisor to the Ayatollah on international affairs, and the chief nuclear negotiator of Iran. Camp 2 is held down by one man, Esfrandir Rahim Mashaie. Mashaie is President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff. President Ahmadinejad is currently under fire for illegally accompanying Mashaie to register his candidacy. Under Iranian law, Ahmadinejad could face up to 74 lashes of 6 months in prison. Whether or not he will be held accountable for such an infraction remains to be seen. Camp 3, another singular outpost, is represented by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. A late entry into the race, Rafsanjani, who serves as President from 1989 to 1997, and lost his bid for a third (disconnected) term to Ahmadinejad in 2005.
While the Iranian election is very much focused on domestic issues, the international community is eager to see if Iran’s next president will be a more formidable diplomatic partner than President Ahmadinejad has been, potentially improving nuclear negotiations with the West and their relationship with Israel. Stay tuned to RACblog as we closely follow the election.
Image courtesy of Salem-News.
Talk radio is very popular in Israel. Animated debates on every topic under the sun fill the airwaves every day. One station, Kol BaRama, a station with a large Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) listenership, has the practice of not allowing women to speak on air. They say this is to respect the feelings of all who tune in to hear them. We, at IRAC, have been saying for two years that it is simply illegal and immoral to silence a woman’s voice on publically funded airwaves. After months of debate, it seems Israel’s politicians are starting to agree with us, and not just about this one case, but also about gender segregation in general.