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Join the GreenFaith Webinars and Learn about Energy Stewardship!

With the High Holiday season now officially over, we’ve tasted sweet apples on Rosh Hashanah and thrown bread into the ocean on Yom Kippur; we’ve talked about food justice in the sukkah and prayed for rain on Shemini Atzeret; we’ve rolled our Torah scrolls back and begun again at B’reishit, reminded of our obligation to “till and tend” the earth.

Lech Lecha is this week’s Torah portion, in which God tells Abraham to leave his family and start anew and so do we go forward into the new Jewish year. What will we do this year differently than the last? How can we go forward both to improve congregations and Jewish communities and to engage more deeply as Jews in the world around us?

This year, pledge your congregation to join GreenFaith for Energy Shield certification. GreenFaith Certification is a comprehensive environmental program that empowers your community to transform into a religious leader for the climate justice. With processes that work, programs that will engage all corners of the community, over 200 free resources, one-on-one consultation, and networking with other faith communities, the Certification Program offers more than any other program for faith communities? in the country.

Join us on three consecutive Fridays from 10/31 to 11/14 at 12 p.m. ET and GreenFaith will walk you through the 13 most effective steps for energy conservation in a Jewish setting!

Register for the training seriesregister even if you can’t make all three webinars, and GreenFaith will send you the recordings.  You will gain valuable tips, guidance, and resources to get you started on your energy conservation efforts before the winter weather arrives. Lech Lecha: let’s go forward towards a new, environmentally aware and energy efficient congregations this year.

Not Just the Federal Level: States Can Also Work To Raise The Wage

Earlier this month, we called on Congress to raise the minimum wage on 10/10 (October 10), by passing The Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R 1010) and The Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737), two bills that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour through a series of gradual increases.

Yet even though Congress is on recess until November 12, this absence does not mean that individuals are no longer fighting to combat economic inequality. As the conversation on increasing the minimum wage moves from the federal level to the states, there are four measures on the ballot this November that would raise the wage..

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Yes on Question 4 in Massachusetts; earned sick time now

Double Booked: In Massachusetts, Ballot Question 4 Brings Us Home

By Rabbi Matthew Soffer

When I read the language Question 4 (a ballot question to ensure earned sick time in the Commonwealth), and I contemplate how Jewish values relate, I’m drawn particularly to that fundamental paradigm of home vs. exile, which is so central to Judaism. Obviously, the emergence of the State of Israel gave physical, geographical shape to that exile/home binary, but fundamentally we know that exile vs. home is a metaphysical issue. That our tradition demands that we recognize exile when we see it, that we mourn over it, and that we fight to come home.

From the literal exiles of 586 BCE to 70CE, and in the Rabbinic Period when the bayit (the home), the dinner table to be more specific, according to one Talmudic voice, replaced the altar in the Temple: fighting to come home, in our tradition, is “how we roll.”
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Maurice Eisendrath and MLK March

Channeling Abraham As We Fight for Civil Rights

Many members of the RAC staff are currently in Atlanta at the fall meeting of the Commission on Social Action. Throughout the meeting, the Commission is working on important social justice issues, while also learning about the abundant civil rights history of Atlanta and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During yesterday morning’s opening plenary session, I delivered a d’var Torah connecting our work to Jewish tradition and the civil rights movement. An abbreviated version of the d’var is here:

Almost as soon as the CCAR conference began in June of 1964, the presiding rabbi stepped forward with an urgent telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. King needed rabbis to take part in demonstrations against the segregated city of St. Augustine, Florida and he needed them immediately. The next morning, 16 Rabbis and then leader of the CSA Al Vorspan were at the airport, answering King’s call.

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When Personal Safety Proves an Obstacle to Voting

During my senior year of college, I worked as a courtroom advocate at the St. Louis County Domestic Violence Court, a division of the court system that deals exclusively with orders of protection in cases of domestic violence. I worked with petitioners to create or improve their safety plan (i.e. what strategies did they use to keep themselves as safe as possible from their abuser?) and to connect people to resources available in our community, like counseling programs, employment assistance, shelters and transitional housing, and legal services. Throughout my year at the court, I watched hundreds of petitioners share evidence of their abuse before the judge, who asked the same, simple question every time: “Does your abuser’s behavior make you fear for your safety?”

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medical symbol, stethoscope, white lab coat

Ebola Crisis Continues in West Africa: What’s the Role of the Jewish Community?

It is no secret that Americans are freaking out about Ebola. According to a Washington Post poll from last week, two-thirds of Americans are suffering from “Fear-bola,” a hyper-contagious “disease” that affects the brain, making sufferers fear a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States. In response, a number of news sources, like Vox, have worked to convey how minor the risk of outbreak is to everyday Americans. However, the disease has claimed over 4,800 lives and is still a significant and dangerous threat in many countries in West Africa. Estimates of the future impact of Ebola in the region are frightening, and the virus is also compounding other existing global health concerns, like malaria. Furthermore, Ebola not only kills many who are afflicted by the disease, but is also afflicting the economy in many West African countries which pushes these countries further behind economically. Read more…

Canadian memorabilia

Oh, Canada

This blog doesn’t have any profound insight or prescriptions for change. It is simply an expression of the great sadness I and so many other Canadians feel about yesterday’s horrifying attack on Parliament Hill. That sadness, and wishes for a full recovery, extends to those who were injured by the gunman and, of course, the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the National War Memorial when he was shot in the abdomen and killed.

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Felon disenfranchisement

Transgender Disenfranchisement Highlights Broader Transgender Discrimination

In less than two weeks, millions of Americans will go to the polls and vote in the 2014 election. However, it is estimated that tens of thousands of transgender Americans could be denied their right to vote in this upcoming election. Transgender voter disenfranchisement highlights one of the many examples of transgender discrimination and the long road ahead for transgender equality.

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