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Group of NFTY Southern Teens volunteering

Inspired and Empowered: Jewish Social Justice, MLK Legacy and NFTY Southern

By Alexa Broida

I had the pleasure of spending MLK weekend with NFTY Southern in Memphis at their “Kallah Clave” social justice weekend. Back in the fall, the NFTY Southern Regional Advisor, Becci Jacobs, reached out to Mitzvah Corps as a partner in the visioning of the event and we began brainstorming together. Being able to have been not only a guest, but a part of planning the event, gave me additional insight into the depth of dedication of the planning process. Over the last few days, as I’ve begun to really process the significance of the event and to find the words to even begin to do justice to the incredibly powerful experience that the team there put together, I’ve continued to feel inspired and empowered. Read more…

Fran Lamarre-Cham of Hillcrest with her daughter, Maia Cham, 8, and son, Mason Cham, 10, attend a vigil in support of public schools at the East Ramapo Central School District administration building in Spring Valley before a scheduled Board of Education meeting May 26, 2010.

Stand With East Ramapo

Spring Valley High School was once a robust school, but since members of the Haredi Jewish community won a majority of seats the school board in 2007, the school has fallen significantly behind other high schools in Rockland County, New York. Dozens of classes, extracurricular activities and staff members have been cut or fired from the high school because of a lack of funds.

The loss of these resources have devastated the school. Many students can no longer earn enough credits to graduate in four years and the graduation rate has fallen to 64%, below the national average. East Ramapo middle schools have also seen funding and personnel cuts, with all middle school sports and music programs completely eliminated. Read more…

Sec. Kerry walks down a hallway with the Iranian Foreign Minister and EU Representative

Keeping up with the Iran Negotiations

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, will be holding informal talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other negotiating teams on the sidelines of World Economic Forum this week in Davos, Switzerland. Yet the real negotiating is going on around Capitol Hill, where the newly-sworn in 114th Congress is proposing new legislation around the talks. Three different pairs of Senators are proposing new bills: Read more…

Supporting Roe at SCOTUS

Reform Jewish Movement Marks Roe v. Wade Anniversary; Condemns Dangerous House Bill

Today, we commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established the constitutionally protected right of a woman to decide whether or not to have an abortion. In an affront to the legacy of Roe v. Wade, the House of Representatives voted this afternoon to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015, a dangerous bill to restrict abortion access. On the occasion of the Roe anniversary and of the House vote, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: Read more…

Remembering that Slavery is Not Just an Injustice of the Past

Too often, we conceive of slavery as problem of the past, a moral lapse that has been corrected. The truth is, however, that more people are enslaved today than were enslaved at any other point in world history. The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, estimates that 21 million people across the globe are trafficked into forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor and sexual servitude—all forms of modern slavery.


January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, so named by the President in order to acknowledge this nation’s painful history of slavery and to highlight the nation’s commitment to freedom. For many Americans, January is also the exciting lead-up to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, this flagship of America’s pastime has become marred by some of the darker aspects of society today. According to leading advocates and law enforcement agencies, the culminating event of football season brings with it some of the largest sex trafficking operations in the country. While there is no concrete way to measure the number of people that have been, or will be trafficked in Glendale, Arizona over the weekend, Miami police in 2010 estimated that 10,000 people had been trafficked as prostitutes for that year’s game. Read more…

President Obama; Vice President Biden; Speaker Boehner at the 2015 State of the Union

From #SOTU2015 to the Budget

At the State of the Union on Tuesday night, President Obama announced his proposals for the upcoming year, discussing his agenda for the next year. Throughout his speech, President Obama stressed the importance of having a budget that can truly help Americans and expand opportunity. He reminded all those watching about the different programs and improvements will address: “we set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure.” These programs are important, and we hope that they will not be cut or that funding to them will not be sacrificed in order to make room for more programs.

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The States of Medicaid Expansion

Yesterday, in the State of the Union, President Obama stated that approximately ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage in the past year. While this number should be lauded, even more people would gain health coverage if all fifty states expanded Medicaid. As state legislatures begin their new sessions throughout the country, here’s a look at the state of Medicaid Expansion:

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Neesh Noosh recipe

Bo: Liberation

By Sarah Newman

This piece is crossposted from Neesh Noosh.

This week, in Bo, the remaining three plagues—locusts, darkness and the death of first-born sons–-are inflicted upon the Egyptians. While Egypt was shrouded in darkness, “all Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings” (Bo, 10: 23).  How, despite the plagues and the continuing hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, did the Israelites live at the precipice of freedom and eventually gain freedom?

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