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This Week at the RAC…



We made it! This weekend was our last L’Taken of the year. It’s a bittersweet moment: we’re happy to have a few more free weekends and sad that one of the most meaningful and fun parts of the program year is drawing to a close. And in case you missed it, here’s a story in the New York Jewish Week about L’Taken participant Jacob Weiner, written by his mother, Susan. It’s a truly moving piece that makes all of us even more proud of the way L’Taken touches and transforms the participants.

On the legislative front, after a very lengthy and contentious delay, the House finally passed on Thursday a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that improves on the original law by strengthening protections for lesbian and Native American women. I am pleased to say you won’t see any more action alerts on this topic from us for a while!

The URJ, CCAR and WRJ this week joined amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality in the Windsor and Perry cases that will be heard this term. We were very, very happy to add our voices to the chorus of faith, secular, business, community and other groups in support of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian Americans in this landmark case.  Oral arguments are scheduled for March 27.

We also joined a brief drafted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in the voting rights case, Shelby vs. Holder, that that was argued this week at the Supreme Court. Early analysis from Court-watchers indicates that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before changing election procedures, may not long exist. Especially in the wake of the many efforts to limit access to the polls before the 2012 elections, it’s cause for significant concern.  Stay tuned…

The news has also been focused heavily this week on the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. Among the leading contenders to replace him is Cardinal Marc Ouelette, a Quebec native. A story in last week’s Canadian Jewish News highlights the Cardinal’s outreach to the Canadian Jewish community, including his interactions with Leigh Lerner, rabbi emeritus at the URJ’s Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal, and URJ Board member Victor Goldbloom (among the few non Christians to have been designated a papal knight.)

We’re only two months out from Consultation on Conscience that begins on April 21. If you’ve not yet registered for the conference, now would be a great time to do so. Early bird registration is still available and there are special rates for young adults, newly ordained rabbis and others. Spread the word and encourage others in your congregation to come and be inspired!

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Barbara Weinstein

About Barbara Weinstein

Barb is the Legislative Director at the Religious Action Center. She is also the Associate Director of the Commission on Social Action.

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