This Week at the RAC: March on Washington & Rosh Hashanah Preparation
I’m writing this note on the train back from New York, where I’ve spent the past four days as part of the team planning the upcoming URJ Biennial. Along with about 25 other staff and lay leaders, we discussed plans for everything from the plenaries to the late night entertainment, from registration to post-Biennial evaluation. It was a thoughtful and creative group and based just on where we are now, three months before Biennial, it’s already clear it will be a great event in San Diego this December. I hope you’ll join us and bring friends too.
The only downside of being part of the planning team was that it meant I had to miss a memorable week in D.C. I was able to join last Saturday’s March on Washington events on the National Mall, where Rabbi Rick Jacobs offered an opening prayer. But I couldn’t be part of the RAC’s Wednesday morning bagel breakfast featuring David Saperstein in conversation with CSA member Rabbi Si Dresner, who worked side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King.
The RAC’s Manager of Congregational Relations, Isaac Nuell, who helped put together the event, shared the following:
“The RAC welcomed nearly 50 guests into our building and the program highlighted the RAC’s deep involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Rabbi Dresner recalled his encounters with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., being arrested during protests in the South, and the countless injustices he witnessed. Following our program, guests walked to the National Mall, where they heard from civil rights leaders, President Obama (and Presidents Clinton…and Carter!), Oprah Winfrey, and more. As a Reform Jew and member of the RAC staff, I’m proud to help keep the dream alive today. The Reform Movement’s proud tradition of standing up for the most vulnerable is alive and well, and not a day passes at the RAC where we are not reminded of our obligation to act.”
Rabbi Saperstein also spoke at a symposium titled “Reflections on the Jewish and African American Civil Rights Alliances,” after which he, Steve Sacks and Si Dresner joined a White House reception with civil rights leaders past and present. At the URJ offices in New York, I had the pleasure of hearing Al Vorspan share with the staff his memories of the Movement’s civil rights leadership. There’s some great material on RACBlog related to the March’s anniversary, including these reflections from the RAC’s founding Director Rabbi Richard Hirsch and more from AJWS President Ruth Messinger.
In other news, the new Legislative Assistants are wrapping up their formal orientation period today. We have a couple of final speakers joining us in the morning, including Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, who will talk about advocacy related to people with disabilities. Friday afternoon, the building will be bursting with former staff as we welcome back former LAs for pizza with the new class. It’s wonderful having so many past and present RAC staff together and is definitely my favorite lunch of the year.
This week will be a very short one thanks to both Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah. We have some great High Holiday social justice resources that you can incorporate into your observances. Look for the next note from me two weeks from today.
All of us at the RAC wish you and your loved ones a sweet, happy and healthy new year.