Rabbi David Saperstein Nominated to Key State Department Post

On Monday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate David to serve as U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. I wrote a letter to the Reform Jewish community about this: I have long said that Rabbi David Saperstein is a national treasure. I am pleased and proud, but not surprised, that President Obama […]

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Labor Day

A Shabbat for U.S. All

After completing six days of work on the heavens and the earth, “and all the host of them,” “God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from […]

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Gov Deval Patrick signs new MA gun violence prevention law

New Gun Violence Prevention Law in MA: How We Helped Make it Happen

Right before my daughter was born, my husband and I took a childcare class. We were the typical expectant parents, eagerly awaiting the birth of our child, and petrified that we wouldn’t know what to do once she arrived. I expected to learn how to put on a diaper and what to do for an […]

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Rabbi Jeremy Master

Helping the Poor One Relationship at a Time

We recently became a host congregation for our local Family Promise affiliate, Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network.  Our involvement with an interfaith hospitality network has afforded our congregation the meaningful opportunity to fulfill our mission to bring justice to the world by providing food and shelter to the homeless.  Almost as important as providing these […]

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We are working families; we are people of faith; #WEmatter; pictures of Double Booked writers

Double Booked: Working Families Matter, #WEmatter



On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment took effect, granting suffrage to millions of American women to demonstrate that their voices – through their votes – mattered in our democracy. It would take many decades after 1920 to ensure full voting rights for all United States citizens, an effort we are sadly still working on today.

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Religion in Israel: Democracy and Pluralism Must go Hand in Hand



As the only thriving democracy in the Middle East, Israel is a beacon of light in a region often filled with despair. And yet, despite its democratic nature, when it comes to religious pluralism, Israel has a long way to go. In 1947, Israel adopted the Ottoman Millet system, formerly in place under the British Mandate, which allowed for religious groups within Israel to establish their own legal systems governing personal status laws (marriage, divorce, alimony, etc.) The URJ notes that there are presently 13 recognized religions in Israel, including Judaism, Islam, Druze, and several Christian denominations. Within the Jewish tradition, however, only Orthodox Judaism is recognized by the state under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. All other Jewish denominations, including Reform and Conservative, function under the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

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Barbara Weinstein

This Week at the RAC: New LA Class, ROR Victory, Statement on Events in Ferguson



The Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Class of 2014-2015 began work on Tuesday and is deep into the orientation program. This is my favorite time of year, when the new LAs infuse the office with their energy and enthusiasm, but also because it’s an excuse for me to invite former LAs back to the RAC to teach the new class.

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Toxic Testing in the Class Room



“Whatever valuable information testing mandates provided have been completely overshadowed by the enormous collateral damage inflicted on too many students. Our schools have been reduced to mere test prep factories and we are too-often ignoring student learning and opportunity in America.”- NEA President Dennis Van Roekel

The National Education Association recently hosted the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) Conference in Denver, CO. The RA is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the association. The NEA members, reaching nearly 9,000 delegates, voted to launch a Toxic Testing Campaign to bring the focus back to supporting students learning. These delegates, most of whom are teachers themselves, are not against testing to understand student comprehension, but rather the excessive need to test of local, state, national and district levels to evaluate a school or teacher. Many times these tests are not as beneficial to the students as the financial gain for the school.

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Text of HR 1447, Death in Custody Reporting Act

Take Action to Support Transparency in the Criminal Justice System!



The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 1447) is crucial legislation that will provide much-needed transparency in the criminal justice system. The law would require and facilitate the collection of information regarding the deaths of prisoners in custody, alleviating the environment of suspicion, concern and mistrust that exists today in many racial and ethnic minority communities from coast to coast.

In December, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act.  The Senate must now introduce and pass a companion to H.R. 1447 before adjourning for the year so that the President can sign it into law.

Urge your Senators to introduce and pass this important legislation. Take action now!

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Concern for Religious Minorities Around the World



On Tuesday, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress published this Op-Ed in the New York Times, callingfor a collective voice standing in defense of the Christian minority being persecuted for their religious beliefs in Iraq and the Middle East.

He writes, “In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.”

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A Yom Kippur Bone Marrow Donation Story



I joined the bone marrow registry at a Gift of Life drive when I was a first year at UNC-Chapel Hill. The NC Hillel director at the time, Or Mars, also joined the registry that day. While I have been hoping ever since to be someone’s match, that day has yet to come. Though I’m not destined to be a match (yet), it’s remarkable how the stars have still seemed to align in other ways almost ten years later. I manage the RAC-Gift of Life partnership, and specifically, spend a lot of my time helping congregations across the US organize bone marrow drives on Yom Kippur. As you’ll read below, Or became a match for a young boy a few years after swabbing. Amazingly, his story is deeply intertwined with Yom Kippur, and to top it off, his wife is a rabbi at a participating Yom Kippur congregation this year!

Enjoy his story below, and be in touch with me to learn about all the ways to get involved with our partnership with Gift of Life.

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Ferguson, statement from Barbara Weinstein

Urgent Need for Justice and Peaceful Resolution of Unrest in Ferguson



Washington, D.C., August 20, 2014 - In response to the unrest in Ferguson, MO, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We, like so many across the U.S. and indeed the world, have watched the unrest in Ferguson, MO with heavy hearts and deep concern. Though the investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer are ongoing and assessments about both the public’s reaction and law enforcement’s response are essential, what is already clear is that in Ferguson, the relationships between law enforcement, public officials and community members have been terribly damaged by mistrust. At the same time, persistent and widening economic inequality has also contributed to deep communal frustration.

Sadly, these circumstances are not unique to Ferguson. 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. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens in America, these economic inequalities are having a detrimental effect on communities where opportunities are shrinking every day.

Efforts to remedy these challenges require both short- and long-term commitments. Law enforcement must swiftly, fully and justly investigate the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death even while respecting and protecting the rights of community members who wish to assemble peacefully and express themselves. Communal relationships must be strengthened and we are encouraged that so many Reform congregations, including those in and around St. Louis, are engaged in such interfaith and inter-coalitional efforts. We are proud of our synagogue members and rabbis who have participated in, and supported efforts to keep peaceful, the protests that have taken place in Ferguson. As a Movement, we stand with them and will continue to advocate for policies and practices that address the scourge of racial profiling while promoting opportunity for all. We also continue to work to address those policies that have contributed to the growing economic inequality nationwide with the goal of ensuring that Americans in every community have the foundations they need and the opportunities they deserve to achieve the American Dream.

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