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Mazal Tov to Rabbi Saperstein

As you may have heard, the United States Senate voted to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center to the post of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department.

We are incredibly proud of the legacy Rabbi Saperstein has built at the Religious Action Center over these last 40 years. The RAC is a cornerstone of the identity of the Reform Jewish Movement. Its engagement with and support for and by synagogues, rabbis, lay leaders, and the broader Jewish community, has situated social justice at the heart of expression of Jewish values and Jewish living across North America. Thousands come to the RAC to learn about how our Movement seeks to apply our moral values to shaping the policy decisions of our government; our online resources have impacted countless more.

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Giving Tuesday 2014

Gratitude Wednesday: An Open-Ended Post-Giving Tuesday Thank You

Dear Friends,

Today is #GratitudeWednesday.  Ok.  Maybe I just made that up.  But what else should I call the day that comes after #GivingTuesday? There is so much to be grateful for.

When our friends at the 92nd Street Y invited the RAC to partner with them on #GivingTuesday, we had little idea about what we were getting ourselves into. Nonetheless, we jumped in feet first.  And I am so glad that we did.

For all of us at the RAC, this #GivingTuesday was so much more than a simple fundraising effort.  It provided an opportunity to good and to encourage others to do the same.

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Giving Tuesday is on Dec 2 2014, banner and quote from Deuteronomy

This #GivingTuesday, Restore our Torah!

By showing your generosity to the RAC on this #GivingTuesday, you demonstrate your commitment to our shared values. Today, we join charities and social justice organizations in the United States and around the world celebrate Giving Tuesday, an initiative to direct the consumer energy of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” toward positive change.

Because study of and reading from the Torah is vital to Jewish living and life-long Jewish learning, the Torah scroll itself has always been a powerful and essential ritual object within Jewish and synagogue life.  After years of traveling to our many conferences, the RAC’s Torah scroll is in need of repair – so we are making it the focus of our #GivingTuesday efforts this year.

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Civil Rights & Swimming Pools

50 Years of Progress Still Measured by Daily Events

As a mother of two young girls, I most look forward to Sundays in the spring and summer time. Each week, I plan different activities – biking, swimming, hiking, and the like – and this past Sunday was no different. My husband and I took our daughters and a bunch of their friends boating. We stopped at the Baltimore Inner Harbor for a picnic lunch, after which the girls ran through the sprinkler/splash park area. While relaxing and soaking up the sun, I quickly eyed my email and saw a slew of reminders related to this week’s anniversary marking the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This milestone anniversary is, of course, of note to so many Americans. In our home, the date carries a special resonance because we are a biracial family. Read more…

Standing Up, Marching Forward

Today marks the 10 years since the RAC’s participation in the March for Women’s Lives.  I remember that morning well!  On that day, more than 1,300 of the nation’s leading women’s civil rights, health and faith organizations mobilized for the March.  Over a million people – including thousands upon thousands of Reform Jews – descended on the National Mall in Washington, DC to give a needed wake-up call to government leaders and the nation about the urgency of women’s health care and demand that all women worldwide gain access to critical health services, birth control (including emergency contraception), and safe abortions.  It was, for sure, an event that represented my own voice, concerns and deeply held convictions.  Read more…

Daphne and daughters

Double Booked: If it’s Good Enough for the Matriarchs

In a recent conversation about raising families, I recounted the numerous times that I have been asked, often in an accusatory tone, why I have “only” two children. I guess because I am an Orthodox woman, people think this is an area into which they are allowed to pry. It is a question that I find incredibly personal, and deeply offensive – especially when it is followed with an admonishment that I am falling down on my religious duties by not abiding by the Biblical imperative “to be fruitful and multiply.” Yet one has to look no further than the Four Matriarchs – who no doubt did not have access to any modern birth control techniques – to see that the notion of large families (certainly not from one mother) is not always reflected in our history, even before hormone-based pills, patches or IUDs.  Indeed, our Scripture describes to us that Sarah struggled with infertility until the age of 90, when she birthed Isaac. Rebecca had a pair of twin boys, Esau and Jacob – and then no more. Leah, the most fecund, had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and a daughter, Dinah.   And finally, Rachel gave birth to Joseph, and then after a number of years, had Benjamin, whose birth caused her death.

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Esther denouncing Haman

This Fast of Esther, I’m Fasting for Immigration Reform

As an observant Jew, I, along with so many people in the Jewish community will spend today fasting and reflecting on the bravery of Queen Esther and the Jews in the Persian Empire. At that time, they gathered to fast and to pray in order to spare the Jewish people from extermination. There are seven fast days every year. But today’s fast feels different. On this day, women from across the Jewish spectrum are fasting and raising awareness to speak truth to power to achieve just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform. As a Jew, as a woman and as an immigrant from Canada, I identify with the gravity of the mission of the day.

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Daphne Price, RAC Development Director

Parsha Terumah

This d’var torah was given by RAC Development Director Daphne Price at a meeting of the URJ Oversight Committee earlier this week.

This week’s parsha, parshat Terumah, is not among the prettiest or sexiest or most interesting parts of the Torah. The entirety of the parsha describes all that had to go into building the mishkan – right down to the kind of wood (acacia!) and the dimensions by cubit. Indeed, if the URJ had policy that allowed me to bet, I would wager that there isn’t a single bar/bat mitzvah child who woops with joy when she or he finds out that this is the part of the Torah they have to chant and discuss.  Having said all that, I am a believer that every line in the Torah remains relevant and has something to teach us about our work.  Read more…

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