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Hands-On Social Justice in Israel

The Daniels Centers for Progressive Judaism is a partner of the Reform Movement and serve as religious, cultural and educational spaces to bridge the gap between secular Israelis and their Jewish heritage. 

This summer the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism, the leading Reform institution in the Tel Aviv –Jaffa area, is teaming up with BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture, to bring to life current critical social issues facing Israeli society and matters of Judaism & social justice in a new two week seminar (July 20-31, 2014) for Jewish Educators, Leaders, Rabbis and Rabbinical Students. This seminar offers the opportunity to live in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and learn from some of Israel’s top scholars including our own Senior Rabbi Meir Azari. Read more…


Reform Jewish Teens Take Albany by Storm

Originally posted by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

“We understand that hunger is a huge issue that cannot be fixed easily. It is a multi-faceted problem and millions of Americans across the country struggle with every day. That is why we want to start small, and advocate for immediate change in New York.”—A NFTY-NAR teen advocating for anti-hunger programs.

Not enough people take the time to engage in the political process—but on Tuesday, the halls of the Legislative Office Building in Albany were teeming with students, parents, union members, lobbyists and over 40 teens from NFTY-NAR.

Tuesday is typically the busiest day of the week down at the State Capitol, but this day happened to be particularly eventful with two massive movements of education advocates converging to rally around charter schools and universal pre-k.

As part of Albany Advocacy Day, the NFTY-NAR teens were right in the middle of the action. After an intensive (and fun!) day of programming over the weekend on four crucial policy issues facing New York, a conversation with NYC Councilman Brad Lander (who is himself a former NFTY North American Social Action Vice President!) and a few hours of hard work writing lobby speeches, the teens entered the Capitol ready to meet with their legislators. Check out photos from the day here (more to come!). Read more…


RJV Responds to State of the State

This post originally appeared on Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

Albany, N.Y., January 9, 2014: In response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address on January 8, 2014, RJV Co-Chairs Barbara Zaron and Jennifer Jaech issued the following statement:

Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV), the Reform Movement’s social justice advocate in New York, sees the Governor’s State of the State message as a mixed bag.

On the positive side, we enthusiastically supported enactment of marriage equality and the minimum wage measures that the Governor spearheaded. We lauded the Governor’s continued commitment to the entire 10 point Women’s Equality Agenda and to Campaign Finance and Ethics Reform, two priority issues on our advocacy agenda going forward.  We are members of the Women’s Equality and the Fair Elections coalitions to advocate for such legislation. Read more…


Take a Bite Out of Hunger

On Rosh Hashanah, we say Shana tovah u’metukah (a good and sweet new year). And while we are nearly four months into 5774, we are only seven days into 2014 and it’s not shaping up to be a good or sweet year for millions of Americans. Congress has yet to extend unemployment insurance for those desperately seeking work, the House and Senate are locked in an appropriations battle to keep the government open past next Wednesday and the Farm Bill has languished for months.

And as Washington, D.C. scrambles to start working on their ever-growing to-do list, states are beginning their budget processes to fund hundreds of necessary programs ranging from education and environmental protection to housing and food assistance. The clock is ticking in New York State, where the budget must be passed by March 31st (if it is passed on time this year, it will be the fourth year in a row!) Read more…

URJ Biennial 2013

Introducing Kikar Biennial

Kikar Biennial is the Biennial Town Square-a central meeting place and a main hub of activity for the Biennial. Drop in any time to grab a quick bite or a cup of coffee, meet up with friends, consult with colleagues, recharge your phone, or simply relax for a few minutes between sessions in a comfortable space.

URJ Books and Music Store
New titles being released at Biennial include Tina Wasserman’s Entrée to Judaism for Families, Rifat Sonsino’s And God Spoke These Words: The Ten Commandments and Contemporary Ethics, Sing Unto God: The Debbie Friedman Anthology, and many more. Join us for a “Meet the Authors” event on Thursday at 5:00 pm to chat with featured speakers and authors and have your books signed.

URJ Books and Music Stage
Scheduled performers include Todd Herzog, Noah Aronson, Mikey Pauker, Peri Smilow, Sam Glaser, Rabbi Joe Black, Shira Kline , and more. You won’t want to miss the grand opening concert Wednesday at 12:00 pm and a special song session and havdalah featuring the music of Debbie Friedman on Saturday at 4:00 pm.

Hands-on Learning Sessions
Cook with Tina Wasserman. Study Torah, camp-style. Create with artist-in-residence Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik. Experience Israeli culture and politics. Learn Hebrew. With dozens of sessions to choose from, there is something for everyone on our two learning session stages.

Get to Know the URJ
Whether it’s in one-on-one consultations with URJ staff, peer-facilitated conversations about best principles for making your congregation a more vibrant community, or time spent with affiliate and partner organizations on Resource Road, you’ll have endless opportunities to learn about working with the URJ.

Relax and Recharge
Kikar Biennial-The Biennial Town Square is a great place to spend some downtime or catch up with old friends. There will be plenty of comfy places to sit, free wi-fi, and charging stations for your electronics and yourself (coffee and snacks). And you won’t miss a thing while you’re there – plenary sessions will be live streamed in Cafe Kikar.

Kikar Biennial Hours

Wednesday 11:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m.
Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

For a complete schedule of events and a map of Kikar Biennial-The Biennial Town Square, visit the Biennial website or mobile app.

Lit up menorah

Hanukkah Social Justice Gift Guide

In search of a unique Hanukkah gift for the social justice hero in your life? Look no further than our Social Justice Hanukkah Gift Guide for all your gift needs.

The Gift of Tikkun Olam – Honor a social justice hero with the gift of social justice by making a tax-deductible gift to the Religious Action Center in his or her name. Your gift will introduce your loved one to the RAC and help us expand our network for advocacy and education. Your contribution of $36 or more will inspire your friend or family member to become a partner in the moral pursuit of justice.

Read more…


Rabbi David Saperstein Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s historic Gettysburg Address, originally delivered on November 19, 1863. In honor and commemoration of this anniversary, documentarian Ken Burns launched a public outreach campaign to encourage everyone from religious leaders to politicians to actors to activists to record themselves reciting the famous words of the address.
Read more…

Rabbi David Saperstein

Watch Now: Rabbi Saperstein on the Rachel Maddow Show

Tomorrow, President George W. Bush is expected to be the keynote speaker at an annual fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI), a Texas-based organization identified with the belief that all Jews should be converted to Christianity and the deceptive assertion that one can be authentically Jewish and hold core Christian theological beliefs about the divinity of Jesus. Just weeks ago, President Bush addressed an event for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella organization of 51 national Jewish organizations. Sarah Posner first reported on President Bush’s upcoming speech last week in Mother Jones; since then, many Jewish leaders have spoken out against his decision to address the MJBI. Rabbi David Wolpe, named Newsweek’s most influential rabbi, published an op-ed in The Forward on Monday and Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a press statement.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show expressing keen disappointment with President Bush’s decision to confer legitimacy on this group with his address.