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This Week at the RAC…

I returned on Friday from about a week of travel, first with the WRJ in Cincinnati at the Fried Leadership Conference.  Aside from having a wonderful time learning with and from more than 200 WRJ members, I loved seeing Isaac M. Wise Temple / Plum St. Synagogue in Cincinnati. I don’t exaggerate when I say my jaw dropped walking into the historic sanctuary.  If you find yourself in the Plum St. area, it’s worth a look at the synagogue’s magnificent architecture.
After leaving Ohio, I was off to NY for a few days of URJ Biennial meetings.  The December 2013 extravaganza is in the early planning stages, but I already feel confident saying it will be a not-to-be-missed event. Mark your calendar now for December 11-15 in San Diego. 
And speaking of not-to-be-missed events, the World Union of Progressive Judaism will soon honor former CSA Director Al Vorspan and Shirley Vorspan, as well as past URJ Chairman Peter Weidhorn and Joan Weidhorn, and Rabbi Irwin and Anne Zeplowitz.  (This event was originally scheduled for last November, but postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.)  The International Humanitarian Award Dinner will be Saturday evening, March 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm at Cipriani on 42nd Street (walking distance from the URJ and the Westin Grand Central and directly across the street from the Grand Hyatt).  This is a wonderful way to celebrate our honorees support the important work of the World Union. By clicking here, you can obtain more information about the event, modify a previous registration or register for the first time. 
Today is the call-in day to prevent gun violence, and I hope you’re planning to participate and spreading the word to others in your congregation.  RAC staff Rachel Laser, Mikey Pasek and Sean Thibault have done a remarkable job building a broad group of faith partners, who are also encouraging their members to call congress and urge swift action on relevant legislation. From the other Jewish movements to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Methodist Church to the Islamic Society of North America, the participating groups span the diversity of American religious life. I’m hopeful the phones on Capitol Hill will be ringing off the hook. You can visit the website today to directly call your Senators.
You’ve probably heard by now that last week, the Pentagon announced that women will be formally allowed to serve in combat roles.  This story from the New York Times notes that the U.S. actually lags far behind Canada and Israel in this regard. Canadian women have served in combat since 1989. And though the presence of Israeli women in combat has waxed and waned throughout the years, men and women have fought alongside each other since the pre-state era. My favorite comment on the Pentagon policy change came from, of all people, Dr. Ruth, who tweeted, “Women are going to go into combat w/US forces. Since I was sniper in Haganah (Israeli freedom fighters) I’m all for that.”
Finally, we are still welcoming applications for next year’s Legislative Assistant program. Our RACblog readers know better than anyone what it takes to be a great RAC LA: passion for social justice; great research, writing and public speaking skills; top notch programming ability; and the temperament to work long hours as part of a team. If you know of a recent or soon to be college graduate who fits the bill, send him or her our way.
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Barbara Weinstein

About Barbara Weinstein

Barbara Weinstein is the Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center.

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