Next week at the URJ Biennial, we’ll be live-streaming all plenary sessions and Shabbat worship (watch at www.urj.org/biennial or live on JLTV) – and some of the best social action material will be available! It promises to excite and inspire Reform Jews from coast to coast to pursue justice and tikkun olam. Read more…
On Wednesday, November 6, President Obama will visit Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, where he will highlight the volunteerism of congregants and others working to help Americans obtain health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As Jews and as partners in the interfaith community, we are proud and honored to draw attention to our shared moral obligation to promote access to healthcare.
The work of congregants at Temple Emanu-El and their partners in the interfaith community is an excellent example of living out these principles that undergird our faith. Dallas Area Interfaith is a multi-issue group of diverse civic institutions working to help uninsured Texans to take advantage of the new opportunities to obtain health insurance. This impressive coalition has campaigned to educate community-members about the Affordable Care Act, to create the Durable Medical Equipment Exchange of Dallas, and to advocate for other efforts to improve community health, including the expansion of the Texas’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
After the jump take a listen to President Obama’s remarks.
Under the TRUST Act, undocumented residents can be held for deportation only if they have committed a specified serious or violent crime. Reform CA, a new campaign of the Reform Jewish Movement to tackle issues of injustice in California, worked with organizations and individuals from across the religious and political spectrum to partner with the lawmakers essential to making the TRUST Act law.
We have spent the last month commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement. Rachel Laser, the RAC’s deputy director, attended the March with her childhood friend, Natalie Bullock-Brown. Read on for Rachel’s reflection on the day, and check out Natalie’s post here!
As the 50th anniversary celebration of the “I Have a Dream” speech approached, I seemed doomed not to be able to acknowledge it as fully as I would have liked. I had fond memories of bussing from Chicago to scorching hot Washington, D.C. with my mother to participate in the 20th anniversary celebration as a 14-year-old girl. This time, the celebration’s end-of-the-summer timing felt inconvenient to me as a parent. There was confusion surrounding the multiple events scheduled within that week, and the celebration was competing with multiple current social justice battles occupying my attention at work.
Everything changed when my school friend Natalie Bullock Brown told me that she was coming from North Carolina for the celebration with her two young kids. She accepted my invitation to stay at our house.
On the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the RAC’s blog and social media will be dark until next week. Shanah tovah!
Avinu malkeinu, chadeish aleinu shanah tovah
Shana tovah u’metukah (a good and sweet new year) from all of us here at the Religious Action Center! As we prepare to leave 5773 behind us and welcome in 5774, we pause to reflect on the closing year, and look to the next with hope and with solemnity. In the coming days, Jews across the world will join together in synagogues, around dinner tables, in communities large and small. As we think on all we hope to achieve and learn as the new Eisendrath Legislative Assistants, we reflect on this phrase from Avinu Malkeinu found in our High Holiday machzor, Gates of Repentance: “Avinu malkeinu, chadeish aleinu shanah tovah,” May the new year be a good year for us.
Though we have each said these words for many years, this year they have a new resonance. As the new LAs at the RAC, ready to take on all the year has in store for us, we pause in gratitude and excitement to ask that we have a good year. One filled with success, with growth, with humility, and camaraderie, all with the pursuit of social justice driving our actions and our thoughts.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, represented the Reform Movement at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on August 24, 2013 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The program featured an interfaith ecumenical prayer service with national clergy and live musical performances.
Rabbi Jacobs said,
I am honored to speak and carry on the tradition of Reform Jewish leaders, who have been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement for decades. We must not only remember the dream of Dr. King and so many others who marched that day, but we must continue to fight. This is the season of the Jewish New Year, when we sound the shofar, the ram’s horn. It is sounded to awaken us from a slumber, to hear the cries of those in pain and to build a better world for all. Let the shofar awaken our nation to carry on Dr. King’s legacy that we may at last ‘transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
This summer, a class of teens at the URJ Kutz camp in Warwick, NY studied political advocacy with Alison Stamm, the Director of Youth Engagement at Temple Sinai of Roslyn. Alison’s minor, called “Get up. Stand up. Stand up for your rights,” emphasized the importance of influencing legislative change for the greater good. Drawing upon materials from the Religious Action Center, these teen activists studied Jewish text, researched legislation and created videos to share their values with their communities and elected officials on three important issues: immigration, disability rights, and pluralism and women’s rights in Israel.
Encouraging the United States House of Representatives to rafity the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
Encouraging the United States Senate to pass common-sense comprehensive immigration reform:
Standing with the Women of the Wall:
This article was originally published in On Faith on July 15, 2013.
You can still be fired for being gay in 29 states, and for being transgender in 33 states.
It should be a national priority to end such discrimination, yet most people don’t even realize such legal discrimination exists. This week, the Senate took a momentous step towards rectifying this situation, sending the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) out of committee to the Senate floor – with a strong bipartisan vote of 15-7.
ENDA, which has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994, would provide long-overdue protections nationwide, with exemptions for small businesses and religious organizations, ensuring that all workers are judged on their ability to perform the job rather than who they are or whom they love. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 – parts of which were drafted in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s conference room and which was shepherded through Congress with strong involvement from the religious community – prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity and national origin. Later laws added pregnancy and disability to this list. However, there is still no federal law that bars discrimination in the workplace based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.