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1 in 4 are affected by mental illness

Mental Health Continues to be a Priority Two Years After Sandy Hook

Sunday  marked the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, where a gunman murdered twenty children and six educators at Sandy Hook elementary school. Leading up to the two-year anniversary, agencies were working to set up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years for people impacted by the shooting, with mental health officials reporting many people reporting “substance abuse, relationship troubles, disorganization, depression, overthinking or inability to sleep” following the shooting. Thankfully, tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting don’t happen very often; unfortunately, however, mental illness is experienced by millions every year.

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sunrise over DC monuments

Interpreting Our Dreams and Addressing the Problems of Our Nation

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Mikeitz, Joseph is brought out of jail in Egypt to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh’s had two dreams: one showing seven fat cows and then seven thin cows; and the other depicted seven healthy ears of corn followed by seven thin ears of corn. Deeply troubled by the dreams, he calls all the wise men in the land in an attempt to interpret the dreams, but finds that only Joseph can help (Genesis 41:23). Read more…

The Hanukkah Model of Sustainability

By Rabbi Kevin M. Kleinman

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, and yet it takes place during the darkest time of the year. The Hanukkah story told in the Babylonian Talmud and repeated from generation to generation centers on the great miracle of light. The oil used in the menorah to rededicate the Temple after the Maccabbees’ victory was supposed to last for only one night, but instead it lasted for eight nights.  I’ll rephrase it this way: one day’s worth of oil provided eight days of light. Halleluyah!  It was a miracle indeed. A miracle of conservation. Who knew that Hanukkah could provide us with a model of sustainability?  Move over Tu B’shvat, Hanukkah is joining you on the climate justice train.

Jewish environmental leaders have been using this teaching about Hanukkah for several years to encourage households to switch from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs during Hanukkah. RAC legislative assistant Liya Rechtman wrote about this connection on this blog a few weeks ago. Looking for a last minute holiday gift? How about giving the gift of reducing carbon emissions, in the form of a light bulb?

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Reuben Bank holding a sign about Giving Tuesday

Coming Together as a Movement Through Social Justice

By Reuben Bank

When people ask me why I’m passionate about social justice I always struggle to find the correct answer. There are several generic responses that I could go to such as, “because there are so many unjust things in the world,” or another classic, “because I have a passion for helping people,” but these never seem to work for me. They don’t encompass the real reasons that I am passionate about tikkun olam, about repairing the world. I’m not passionate about social justice by itself, I’m not interested in doing random community service hours every weekend. As a Reform Jewish teenager, I am passionate about being a part of a movement.

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WRJ Hanukkah Project

Hanukkah Miracles and Mitzvot for Children

This post originally appeared on the WRJ Blog.

At the moment of rededication, the Maccabees relit the ner tamid, the eternal flame in the Temple. The ner tamid symbolizes God’s constant presence with the entire Jewish people. Because it is perpetually lit, the ner tamid also signifies a hope that God’s presence will continue to dwell with us from generation to generation (BT Shabbat 22b). What could be a better symbol for our hopes for a sustainable future than the ner tamid? Thus, as we kindle the Hanukkah lights, we think about how we can nurture our children and pass along a better world to them.

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Mazal Tov to Rabbi Saperstein

As you may have heard, the United States Senate voted to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center to the post of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department.

We are incredibly proud of the legacy Rabbi Saperstein has built at the Religious Action Center over these last 40 years. The RAC is a cornerstone of the identity of the Reform Jewish Movement. Its engagement with and support for and by synagogues, rabbis, lay leaders, and the broader Jewish community, has situated social justice at the heart of expression of Jewish values and Jewish living across North America. Thousands come to the RAC to learn about how our Movement seeks to apply our moral values to shaping the policy decisions of our government; our online resources have impacted countless more.

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Rabbi David Saperstein confirmed as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

Today, the Senate voted to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center to the post of Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. Since his nomination in late July, Rabbi Saperstein has continued to represent the Reform Jewish community, and celebrated 40 years of service in September.

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Luis Lopez Acabal, Mayra Canales, and daughter Kim

Rabbis Organizing Rabbis: Luis Goes Home for the Holidays

By Rabbi Esther Lederman

Courage. Tenacity. Faith. These are the traits of the Jewish people that we honor during Hanukkah. And they’re what I’ve seen this week too.Many Reform rabbis called Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva to urge them to stop Luis Lopez Acabal’s deportation. Over the last two days, I spent hours with Luis’s wife, Mayra Canales, and the pastor who is providing him sanctuary in his church, Rev. Eric Ledermann. Together we met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and the legislative director for their House Representative, Kyrsten Sinema. Our calls helped make these meetings possible! When Rev. Ledermann and Mayra thanked me for our contributions to their efforts, I felt incredibly proud to represent the Reform rabbinate.

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