When Personal Safety Proves an Obstacle to Voting

During my senior year of college, I worked as a courtroom advocate at the St. Louis County Domestic Violence Court, a division of the court system that deals exclusively with orders of protection in cases of domestic violence. I worked with petitioners to create or improve their safety plan (i.e. what strategies did they use […]

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medical symbol, stethoscope, white lab coat

Ebola Crisis Continues in West Africa: What’s the Role of the Jewish Community?

It is no secret that Americans are freaking out about Ebola. According to a Washington Post poll from last week, two-thirds of Americans are suffering from “Fear-bola,” a hyper-contagious “disease” that affects the brain, making sufferers fear a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States. In response, a number of news sources, like Vox, have […]

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Canadian memorabilia

Oh, Canada

This blog doesn’t have any profound insight or prescriptions for change. It is simply an expression of the great sadness I and so many other Canadians feel about yesterday’s horrifying attack on Parliament Hill. That sadness, and wishes for a full recovery, extends to those who were injured by the gunman and, of course, the […]

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Felon disenfranchisement

Transgender Disenfranchisement Highlights Broader Transgender Discrimination



In less than two weeks, millions of Americans will go to the polls and vote in the 2014 election. However, it is estimated that tens of thousands of transgender Americans could be denied their right to vote in this upcoming election. Transgender voter disenfranchisement highlights one of the many examples of transgender discrimination and the long road ahead for transgender equality.

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Five Jewish Things You Can Do to Celebrate Food Day



Tomorrow, October 24, is Food Day, a nationwide celebration of the movement for sustainable, healthy, affordable food. Food Day envisions food that is healthy, affordable, produced with care for environmental sustainability, farm animals and the farmers and laborers who grow, harvest, and serve our food. Food Day’s themes also touch on public health, food education and economic inequality.

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Man dressed in infection gear protests outside of the White House on a travel ban

What Does Ebola Have to Do with Immigration? Not Much



Turning on the news, it seems like all that anyone is talking about these days is the Ebola virus. From the news, to our offices, to our conversations amongst friends, we’ve been hearing every day about what symptoms to look for, how to safeguard against it, and how far it might spread. One American man has already died in Dallas, and two are in treatment in Atlanta and Bethesda. To be sure, it’s a deadly, scary disease, and our world community should be treating this outbreak with extreme caution.

Amidst the fear of an outbreak in America, we’ve been hearing from some news commentators that we need to introduce a travel ban for West Africa; denying visas to anyone traveling from West Africa. This idea has made its way from media circles to popular sentiment, as now two-thirds of Americans support denying entry to people traveling from the affected countries. Given this popularity, the travel ban has now become an easy way for politicians to score points with voters. Both the Republican and Democratic Senate candidates in the hotly-contested races of North Carolina and New Hampshire now favor a travel ban as a way of preventing contact between West Africa to America. Read more…

Homeless youth

Ensuring That A Permanent Home Is Not a Prerequisite to Voting



This week, we will read Parashat Noach, which tells the story of Noah and the flood. In this parashah (Torah portion), as the flood came upon the Earth over the course of seven days, Noah and his family took shelter in the ark, along with all the animals that “went two and two … into the ark, male and female, as God commanded Noah” (Genesis 7:8). Though the rain continues for forty days and forty nights, “Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark,” and they were safe (Genesis 7:23). Every animal was represented, and everyone was provided the shelter that would provide them with safety.

As Election Day approaches, we are reminded of the importance of making ourselves heard in our democratic process. It is crucial that as many people who can vote have the ability to get to the polls. For those who are homeless, however, registering to vote and getting to the polls can be especially challenging.

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A picture of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Commemorating the Fifth Anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act



By Michael Lieberman

This month we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), the most important, comprehensive, and inclusive federal hate crime enforcement law passed in the past 40 years.  The Anti-Defamation League and the Religious Action Center played critical roles helping to lead the very broad coalition of civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement, and civic organizations that advocated for the HCPA for more than a dozen years.

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Holding Ourselves Accountable: Tending to the Earth



In B’reishit, this week’s Torah portion (parashah), we read the epitomic Jewish environmental verses: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till and tend it” (Genesis 2:15). For both Jewish and Christian communities, this line is the basis of our obligation as stewards of the environment.

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Supreme Court

Take Action to #RestoreVotingRights in Light of Major Loss in Texas



With Election Day only two weeks away, there’s no better topic to discuss than voting rights. The civil rights community is calling today #RestoreVotingRights Day in an effort to engage social media in this important conversation. This election will be the least protected election in almost 50 years because of Congress’s failure to act in the wake of the Shelby County Supreme Court decision. Free and fair elections, secured by the Voting Rights Act, are the cornerstone of American democracy, and this issue should be seen in that way. Voting rights is a Jewish issue, a civil rights issue, a Democratic issue, a Republican issue, and an issue for everyone who believes in our democracy. Read more…

An El Al 747 jet flies in the sky

Standing Up Against Discrimination, from 35,000 Feet Up in the Sky



Here at the Religious Action Center, we take pride in our founding to be a Jewish voice against discrimination and segregation in the early 1960s. Kivie Kaplan (President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1966-1975), for whom the street where is RAC is located is named, was driving in Miami in the 1950s and came across a sign that barred him from entering a hotel because he was Jewish. His driver, a black man, commented that the hotel’s segregation against blacks was implied. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, key legislation in the fight against segregation, was even drafted in the Religious Action Center’s conference room. Read more…

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