Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Greetings from the New RAC Director

Dear Friends, I write to you today from the Arthur & Sara Jo Kobacker building in Washington D.C., the home of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. I received the honor of a lifetime when Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, announced my appointment as the new Director of the […]

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Green Shevat Challenge: Learn to Cook and Celebrate Tu BiSh’vat!

Welcome to the Jewish month of Shevat and (if you’re on the East Coast) to Storm Juno. While you’re inside waiting out the snow, take this time as an opportunity to take the Green Sh’vat Challenge and make your life a little greener. Unfortunately, massive snowstorms don’t counteract the fact that climate change is real, […]

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Paid sick days

Especially in Flu Season, Paid Sick Days are Critical for Working Families

Now that it is January and the peak of flu season, many Americans will be struggling to stay healthy more than ever. Over 40 million Americans do not currently have access to paid sick days, and we need to take action to ensure that more people do not have to make the difficult choice between […]

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Rachel Laser speaking at National Sikh Campaign press conference

Rachel Laser: We Must Fight Discrimination Against Sikhs

On Monday, RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser spoke at a press conference announcing the National Sikh Campaign’s (NSC) report on “What Americans Know and What Americans Need to Know.” NSC was created to fight the stereotypes and discrimination that Sikh Americans face in society today by “[highlighting] the Sikh community’s contributions to American society; [creating] […]

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Support abortion access

House of Representatives Passes Severe Anti-Abortion Bill to “Celebrate” Roe v. Wade Anniversary



On January 22, we commemorated the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that established our constitutionally protected right to decide whether or not to have an abortion. That same day, in an affront to the legacy of Roe, the House of Representatives voted to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 7), dangerous legislation that would both codify existing bans on taxpayer funding for abortion and expand restrictions to limit abortion access for women who are privately insured. Read more…

Happy New Year to the Trees!



Tu BiSh’vat, also known as Chamishah Asar B’shevat (the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat) is commonly known as the New Year for trees and falls this year on February 3. Historically, it was the date on which trees in Israel were determined to be mature enough for their fruit to be harvested. Tu BiSh’vat was the date designated because by then, the early winter rains had largely subsided and the period of “budding” was just commencing, making the holiday a celebration of renewal.

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picture of sign outside cape cod synagogue

Doing Well by Doing Good



Doing the right thing paid off at the bottom line. How often can you say that about doing a mitzvah? My experience with solar power at the Cape Cod Synagogue has been just that: our investment in renewable energy has been a positive for the environment, an expression of our Jewish values, and a net budgetary savings. Read more…

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marches with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama

The Movie Selma: Where is Heschel?



By Al Vorspan

The movie Selma moved me very deeply, and I was impressed with the superb acting (especially MLK) and brilliant writing. But I was also troubled that this movie (so clearly on the side of the angels) unwittingly continues a trend I have watched for decades with mounting discomfort—the gradual bleaching out of the Jewish role in the civil rights revolution in America. To put it bluntly, as a friend, Larry Bush, put it to me: where was Heschel?

The murdered Christian clergyman was respectfully recalled. What appeared to be a Greek orthodox prelate, in garb, was glimpsed in the front row. But Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, certainly one of America’s most renowned and prophetic religious leaders, was not mentioned, nor viewed, though in real life Heschel was sitting in the front row with King’s carefully selected partners in the struggle for equal justice. Read more…

Group of NFTY Southern Teens volunteering

Inspired and Empowered: Jewish Social Justice, MLK Legacy and NFTY Southern



By Alexa Broida

I had the pleasure of spending MLK weekend with NFTY Southern in Memphis at their “Kallah Clave” social justice weekend. Back in the fall, the NFTY Southern Regional Advisor, Becci Jacobs, reached out to Mitzvah Corps as a partner in the visioning of the event and we began brainstorming together. Being able to have been not only a guest, but a part of planning the event, gave me additional insight into the depth of dedication of the planning process. Over the last few days, as I’ve begun to really process the significance of the event and to find the words to even begin to do justice to the incredibly powerful experience that the team there put together, I’ve continued to feel inspired and empowered. Read more…

Fran Lamarre-Cham of Hillcrest with her daughter, Maia Cham, 8, and son, Mason Cham, 10, attend a vigil in support of public schools at the East Ramapo Central School District administration building in Spring Valley before a scheduled Board of Education meeting May 26, 2010.

Stand With East Ramapo



Spring Valley High School was once a robust school, but since members of the Haredi Jewish community won a majority of seats the school board in 2007, the school has fallen significantly behind other high schools in Rockland County, New York. Dozens of classes, extracurricular activities and staff members have been cut or fired from the high school because of a lack of funds.

The loss of these resources have devastated the school. Many students can no longer earn enough credits to graduate in four years and the graduation rate has fallen to 64%, below the national average. East Ramapo middle schools have also seen funding and personnel cuts, with all middle school sports and music programs completely eliminated. Read more…

Sec. Kerry walks down a hallway with the Iranian Foreign Minister and EU Representative

Keeping up with the Iran Negotiations



Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, will be holding informal talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other negotiating teams on the sidelines of World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland. Yet the real negotiating is going on around Capitol Hill, where the newly-sworn in 114th Congress is proposing new legislation around the talks. Three different pairs of Senators are proposing new bills: Read more…

Supporting Roe at SCOTUS

Reform Jewish Movement Marks Roe v. Wade Anniversary; Condemns Dangerous House Bill



Today, we commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutionally protected right of a woman to decide whether or not to have an abortion. In an affront to the legacy of Roe v. Wade, the House of Representatives voted this afternoon to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015, a dangerous bill to restrict abortion access. On the occasion of the Roe anniversary and of the House vote, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: Read more…

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