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Moving Forward: Sh’nat Ha-Evel for Michael Brown, and 50 Years after the VRA

This weekend marks one year since Michael Brown was shot and killed in the street by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. As we take this moment to reflect on the past year, I am reminded of the Jewish tradition’s unique way of coping with death, to help mourners gradually reenter into normal life after the death of a loved one. Read more…

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Rohingya muslims CNN

Plight of Rohingya Muslims Continues

The persecution and plight of the Rohingya Muslims is nothing new. In fact, the United Nations has identified them as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.” The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority living in northern Rakhine State in western Burma. For decades, they have faced severe persecution and violence at the hands of the government. Read more…

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President Obama Commutes Sentences

President Obama Pushes Ahead on Criminal Justice

In a video announcement on Monday, President Obama announced that he is granting clemency to 46 men and women. Because of much-needed reforms to sentencing laws, if convicted of the exact same crime today, nearly all of these individuals would have already served their full sentences and reintegrated into society. This announcement comes only a few months after the President commuted the sentences of 22 other individuals in April. In total, the President has issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority have which have gone to non-violent drug offenders. Read more…

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A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard removes the Confederate battle flag Friday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Confederate Flag Flies No More Over South Carolina Capitol

On Friday, the Confederate flag was permanently taken down from the South Carolina State House, after weeks of activism and debate. The debate was sparked after the killing of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in mid-June. As Reform Jews who advocate for tolerance and equality for all of God’s people, we are glad to see this symbol of hate removed from state grounds. However, we understand that the flag is only a symbol and racial and economic inequalities persist across the country. We hope that the removal of the flag in South Carolina is only the beginning of our country’s efforts towards full inclusion and healing. Read more…

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Supreme Court

UPDATED: Supreme Court Opinions Raise Important Criminal Justice Questions

The Supreme Court term that just came to an end was extremely significant, and not just because of the historic healthcare and marriage equality rulings. Throughout the term, we saw a number of important criminal justice cases argued and decided, and though some of them did not go the way we would have hoped, important questions were raised about the way that “justice” is carried out in our criminal justice system. Read more…

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Carrying On the Social Justice Torch for Voting Rights

51 years ago, on June 21, 1964, civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner were abducted in Neshoba County, Mississippi and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner had been in Mississippi preparing and registering African Americans to vote as part of Freedom Summer. The three men were executed on the side of a dark road in Mississippi, and it took 44 days for their bodies to be found. Their deaths fueled support of the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an Act that we are trying to strengthen and support again today.

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The Tragedy and Horror of the Charleston Church Shooting

Last night, 9 people were killed at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina when a 21 year old man opened fire. The tragedy has shaken the country and reminded us that violence and hatred know no boundaries, and can reach us even within the walls of a house of worship. RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser shared the following statement: Read more…

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Reaffirming the Value of All Lives on World Refugee Day

This Saturday, June 20, is World Refugee Day. According to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country due to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Many refugees are also in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. Read more…

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