In a new policy statement adopted by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform Jewish Movement addressed the full array of issues flowing from the decision of the UN to upgrade the official status of the Palestinians.
The statement, adopted overwhelmingly after a full debate by more than 200 board members at yesterday’s meeting of the Union of Reform Judaism’s North American Board of Trustees, “Condemn[s] the Palestinian Authority for the unilateral decision to seek upgraded status at the United Nation as counterproductive to the cause of peace, and express[es] … deep concern to those countries that supported the upgraded status, and to those who abstained.” Read more…
Cheerleading doesn’t necessarily have a great reputation in popular culture. Movies like Bring It On – and all of its many sequels – portray high school cheerleaders as walking stereotypes of negativity: vapid and ditzy at best, cruel and calculating at worst. It’s refreshing and reassuring, then, to see a real-life story that shows cheerleaders in a positive light, reminding us that pop culture often gets it wrong.
Rabbi David Saperstein today issued a statement commending Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Minister John Baird, and the Canadian government for reaffirming their opposition to the policies of the Iranian regime by closing the Canadian embassy in Tehran.
As information comes to light about yesterday’s shooting at the Family Research Council office in Washington, it now appears that this attack, like others in recent weeks, reflects the worsening ideological divisiveness, anger and intolerance in our nation, which must end. We are grateful that the shooting injured only one person who is expected to make a full recovery, for which we pray. The fact remains that this trend of violence threatens us all and violates the values of respect for others that must be paramount in American civic and political life. Yesterday’s shooting also adds to the evidence, as if more were needed, that guns are too pervasive in our society and too easily obtained by those with mental illness, nefarious goals – or both. Abiding by the principles of the Constitution need not be incompatible with sensible gun control. We call on members of Congress, the President and people committed to the safety and well being of all Americans to move swiftly on gun control measures that will help ensure the safety of us all.
President Barack Obama issued a video message yesterday conveying his Passover greetings to the Jewish community. Jarrod Bernstein, Director of Jewish Outreach at the White House, posted the video on The White House Blog with the following preface:
Starting tomorrow night, the Jewish community in the United States, Israel, and throughout the world will come together to celebrate the holiday of Passover.
President and Mrs. Obama will join them, continuing their tradition of hosting a small Seder at the White House. By now, the story of how that tradition began has been told and retold, but in the spirit of Passover, I’ll tell it again: In April of 2008, the President and his staff were on the trail in Pennsylvania in the midst of a long primary campaign. Weary from a long day of work and away from their families, a small group of staffers came together to hold an impromptu Seder. When then-Senator Obama got wind of the Seder, he gathered some other staff and friends and decided to join. At the end of the Seder, the President followed the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem” declaration with a pledge of his own – “Next year in the White House.” Each year since, he has followed through on that promise. This year, he also added a new touch, a video message to Jews everywhere wishing them Chag Sameach as they continue their own traditions or start new ones this Passover.
Newsweek and the Daily Beast released their annual list of “America’s Top 50 Rabbis” this week, and we at the RAC are thrilled to see director Rabbi David Saperstein in the number four spot. The write-up on him reads:
At the 50th anniversary of the Religious Action Center (RAC), which is headed by Saperstein and prioritizes social justice in the Reform Movement, President Obama offered this tribute: “You have made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half century. Without these efforts, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today … You have brought to life your faith and your values. The world is a better place for it.” When Obama wanted to address rabbis from all religious streams before the High Holidays, he asked RAC to arrange the conference call. (Nearly 900 rabbis participated.) RAC’s social-justice seminars on high-school and college campuses now bring in nearly 2,000 young Jews annually. The RAC was out front protesting the controversial decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to defund Planned Parenthood (quickly reversed).
It’s TribeFest time! What’s TribeFest, you ask? The URJ is proud to be a sponsoring partner in the Jewish Federations of North America‘s three-day interactive and education celebration for Jews ages 22-45. Held March 25-27 in Las Vegas, TribeFest offers its 1,500+ attendees top-quality educational and interactive content on topics like politics, food, entertainment, and culture. Because we love the opportunity to host Reform reunions wherever and whenever possible, we’re inviting all TribeFest attendees to join us at a reception for alumni and friends of the RAC, NFTY, URJ Camps, NFTY in Israel, NFTY-EIE High School in Israel, KESHER Birthright, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. If you’re attending TribeFest, we hope you’ll join us – and tweet your convention experience using the hashtag #rjTribeFest to make it easier for Reform Jews to connect through social media while in Vegas.
Details of the reception are as follow. Help us spread the word!
Passover offers a variety of opportunities to infuse our holiday celebrations with social justice themes, as evidenced by the RAC’s many themed haggadot and seder inserts. The URJ’s Interactive Seder Plate offers a sleek, technological look at the traditional seder plate, but there are also a number of modern additions to consider adding to your table: