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Bashana haba’ah, In the New Year to Come (Part 2)

As we close the book on 2013 and turn to welcome a new year, the 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants are wrapping up their first four months at the Religious Action Center, filled with challenges, successes, new adventures, numerous trips to Starbucks and a lot of fun! Looking towards the next weeks and months, a new year, the LA’s compiled a little “wish-list” for what they hope our nation can achieve. If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.

Howie Levine

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and give 30 million Americans a raise. Working full time on the current minimum wage is not enough to keep even a family of two above the poverty line, but this legislation would give an opportunity to a minimum wage worker to support a family of three above the poverty line—not ideal, but better than the status quo. Read more…

Bashana haba’ah, In the New Year to Come

As we close the book on 2013 and turn to welcome a new year, the 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants are wrapping up their first four months at the Religious Action Center, filled with challenges, successes, new adventures, numerous trips to Starbucks and a lot of fun! Looking towards the next weeks and months, a new year, the LA’s compiled a “wish-list” for what they hope our nation can achieve. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.

Sarah Greenberg

In 2014, it is my wish that all women around the world can access a safe, legal, and affordable abortion if they so chose–we must repeal the Hyde Amendment, bans on abortion after arbitrary periods in gestation, restrictive parental notification laws and all other laws on waiting periods and preliminary steps before an abortion (even if they aren’t cost-prohibitive, are certainly time-prohibitive.) In practice, these laws disproportionately affect low-income women who cannot afford the procedure, nor take time off of work. Reproductive freedom is not only a “woman’s issue, ”but rather it is an “everyone issue”–decisions around family planning are about families, a woman’s self-determination and her equality. Read more…

URJ Biennial 2013 Preview

Biennial2013-logoNext week at the URJ Biennial, we’ll be live-streaming all plenary sessions and Shabbat worship (watch at 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…

President Obama speaks at Reform synagogue Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX

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.

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Jewish Clergy for Immigration Reform

TRUST Act’s Moral Backers: Rabbis and Jewish Advocates Mobilized for Change

When Governor Brown signed the TRUST Act into law on October 5th, 2013, moral advocates from across California were ecstatic: for three years, a coalition of religious, civic and social groups have organized and mobilized to promote passage of the TRUST Act. Prior to the TRUST Act, undocumented residents could be held for deportation after arrest, even if they had no serious criminal history and had been arrested only for minor offenses.

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.

Read more…

Shofar, pomegranate, apple

May the New Year Be a Good Year for Us

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.

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March on Washington

Rabbi Rick Jacobs Speaks at 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

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.

Read more…

URJ Kutz Campers and Immigration Advocacy

URJ Kutz Camp Talks Political Advocacy

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: