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This Week at the RAC: Two Anniversaries and Renewed Peace Negotiations

It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the last Friday in July!

NFTY’S Urban Mitzvah Corps participants were here early last week for a social justice trip to DC. It was the final conference of the RAC program year, and a bit of nostalgia is setting in amongst our staff. Our terrific 2012-2013 class of Eisendrath Legislative Assitants will only be here for another two weeks. And today is the last day for our summer rabbinic LAs, Benj Fried and Steven Morris. They’ve been great colleagues for the past couple of months, and we’re all looking forward to our paths crossing again soon.

Wednesday marked four years since the federal minimum wage was raised to its current level of $7.25 per hour. That translates to a whopping annual salary of $15,080, leaving it nearly impossible for many families to make ends meet. (In fact, that amount is roughly the same as the poverty level for a single adult with a child.) Take a moment to email your members of Congress if you haven’t yet done so and urge them to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next three years.

Speaking of anniversaries, Thursday marked the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 23rd. A little-known fact is that the traditional 23rd anniversary gift is actually Senate ratification of a major international treaty! So use this opportunity to encourage your Senators to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In case you missed it, Steve Cohen, director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU announced last week that our own Leibel Fein has given the institution his nearly complete collection of writings, “including over 1,500 documents: articles, speeches, letters, and author’s drafts of writings which later were (or weren’t) published.” You can browse the Leibel Fein collection here.

The Maccabiah Games are underway in Israel, and JTA had a story last week about the heated competition in baseball, where there are a full three teams playing: the U.S., Canada and Israel. Not surprisingly for a sport known as “America’s Pastime,” the U.S. team is winning the tournament thus far.

In other Israel-related news, we’re all eagerly awaiting the start of renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs issued a statement, noting, “We welcome this apparent progress toward peace, commend Secretary of State Kerry for his leadership and effort and pledge our support for such efforts as they move forward. We pray that this is the beginning of a process that will lead to a lasting agreement that will bring true peace and stability for a region that has known conflict for thousands of years. We call on both the Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with a true willingness to work for peace and we pray that the vision of the prophets will soon be fulfilled.”

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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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