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Reform CA Wander No More

Reform CA: Victory for Affordable Homes and the Environment

The following statement was released today by Reform California:

As leaders of Reform CA, an initiative of the California Reform Jewish Movement for justice, we are overjoyed by the bold decision of our state leadership to invest significant and long-term cap-and-trade funding into the building of affordable homes near transit in California.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations and Lead Organizer of Reform CA, stated:

“In the book of Genesis, the protection of the earth is placed in our hands.  And as a Jewish people whose central narrative is that of wandering without a place to call home, we have a fundamental responsibility to address the suffering that comes when one who seeks shelter can find none.  It is with this dual responsibility in mind that we have come together on this issue as Reform Jews from every corner of California to turn our faith into action.”

Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, a resident of Sacramento and Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, added:

“Building these homes will help reduce the number of miles traveled by cars on our state’s roads and highways by over one hundred million miles each year. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be significant, as will be the impact on the lives of so many of California’s hard working families who struggle to afford their rent or mortgage.”

To campaign for this decision, Reform CA leaders traveled to Sacramento to meet with over 30 legislators and the Governor’s office. Local clergy and lay leaders also campaigned in their home districts and sent over 700 letters to Assembly Members and Senators. In addition, 55 California rabbis and cantors signed a petition to Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. Dozens of Reform rabbis preached about this issue from their pulpits, making spiritual and moral calls to address California’s urgent need for affordable homes and a healthy environment.

We applaud the courageous leadership of Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, as well as our state legislature, including Senate President Pro Tempore Elect Kevin de León.  Today is a great day for California — and for our children, our grandchildren, and the many generations that will follow as we take another step closer to the California of our dreams.

Supreme Court

Reform Movement Condemns Supreme Court Legislative Prayer Ruling

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, upholding sectarian prayer before a legislative session. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that requiring invocations be nonsectarian would call on the legislatures sponsoring these prayers and the courts to intervene and “act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.” Yet, Justice Kennedy did suggest there were limits to such prayers, among them: denigrating non-believers or religious minorities, threatening damnation, or preaching conversion — leaving courts in exactly the same role as line-drawers.  The record has shown that the overwhelming majority of prayers offered were Christian. That is why we were pleased to join an amicus brief to the Court, opposing the constitutionality of the town of Greece’s practices, along with a diverse array of faith and religiously-affiliated groups.

An individual’s religious belief – or non-belief – ought not be a prerequisite to accessing the political process. The Greece v. Galloway decision undermines the fundamental American principle of equal participation in government, regardless of the faith of the individual.

For more information on the RAC’s views on the separation of church and state and religion in the public sphere, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Sarah Greenberg or visit our Religious Liberties web portal.

Reform Leader Responds to New Reports of Anti-Semitism in Ukraine

In response to reports of demands that Jewish residents of Donetsk, Ukraine register with the government and pay fees or risk serious penalties, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: Read more…

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 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…

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.

Read more…

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…

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