Thousands of years ago the Jewish people were expelled from the land of Israel into the Diaspora. They remained there until 1948 when the Jewish people finally achieved the dream of a homeland when the State of Israel was born. The Jewish people have never been strangers to exile or xenophobia. Having had this unique background and history enables Jews to examine the issue of immigration reform through a fresh perspective, which will hopefully add some common sense to the chaos with which this issue has been associated in recent years. The immigrants who come to the U.S. are often exploited for cheap labor while also being robbed of any semblance of human dignity and human rights. In the Bible, Moses flees from Egypt after slaying one of the Egyptians, eventually wedding Zipporah who bears him a son, Gershom. Translated into English, Gershom means the sojourner and the Bible exclaims that Moses named his son thus because “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” Read more…
As an attendee, thanks to the RAC, of the White House Summit on Working Families, I was honored to be interviewed by our local Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Voice of South Jersey. The article presents the opportunity we have to influence the powers to be in our individual committees to think differently about the way families function today. I hope that by reading this article, you too are inspired to make a difference in your own community. L’Shalom, Rabbi Larry Sernovitz.
This piece originally appeared on July 9, 2014 at Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey.
By Jane Jacova Field
For Temple Emanuel Rabbi Larry Sernovitz, nearly every day is a balancing act between taking care of his congregants’ needs and carving out time with his wife and two young children.
And as hard as that is, he knows that countless American workers with children do not have the same flexibility he has to make it home for family dinners most nights and even to sing the nighttime Shema with five year old Sammy by telephone when work prevents him from being at his son’s bedside.
Outspoken in his support for family-friendly workplace policies, Sernovitz’s participation in the recent White House Summit on Working Families was both inspiring and challenging.
While sobered by the not surprising news that America is dead last among developed nations in terms of familyfriendly policies, he left empowered to work to make the change that needs to happen, he said.
In response to reports that the administration will ban discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT workers, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement:
“We are elated by the reports of the President’s decision today to sign two executive orders, extending workplace protection to LGBT employees of federal contractors and to transgender employees of the federal government. We commend President Obama for these important steps affirming that the government should not fund discrimination through its contracts. These orders represent a significant step in ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace. They expand the Administration’s consistently robust efforts to protect the fundamental rights of LGBT people (as it has done through key steps such as its support for marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act). According to the Williams Institute, this executive order would protect 14 million more workers whose employers or states do not already uphold non-discrimination policies. Moreover, this order will demonstrate to Congress that workplace protection for LGBT employees is good for individuals and good for business. Read more…
College students nationwide are uniting in the fight to prevent and penalize sexual attackers on their campuses. The Obama Administration has taken a “strong stance” on the issue. The White House has created a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. These and other attempts to combat sexual violence on college campuses are promising, but lack a critical collaboration of university administrators, government officials, student activists and concerned constituents.
By Leah Citrin
In the last several weeks, considerable press time has been spent covering the humanitarian crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. A surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America has spurred much discussion and debate about the best way to address the fact that to date, 58,000 undocumented and unaccompanied minors have entered the United States. This number is more than double the 24,500 unaccompanied minors who entered the United States in 2013.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby almost three weeks ago, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) and Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act” (S. 2578/H.R. 5051).
This bill was crafted in the aftermath of Hobby Lobby to ensure that all people will continue to access all kinds of medical needs and services whether their employer might have a religious objection or not. Additionally, it maintains the contraception mandate’s accommodation and exemption for religious non-profits and for houses of worship.
Yesterday, President Obama announced a crucial aspect of his Climate Action Plan: a comprehensive proposal to provide necessary infrastructures in preparing the United States to withstand the most severe impacts of climate change, like extreme weather events and increased flooding.
In November, the president established the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise him on how the federal government can best respond to communities nationwide that are already dealing with the impacts of climate change. The task force is composed of governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders who thoroughly understand how the communities they represent have been affected by the increased frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods.
If you take a moment to peruse the Third National Climate Assessment, released this past May, you will see that climate change impacts every region of our country. In the Northeast, river flooding and heat waves plague the most disadvantaged communities. In the Southwest, severe droughts stress water sources, and rising sea levels pose risk to highways, bridges, power plants, and sewage treatment plants. In the Midwest, increased temperatures are having a negative effect on human health and suppressing agricultural yields. All of these impacts of climate disruption call for the mitigation of carbon pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. Take a moment to tell the EPA that you support the Clean Power Plan, which will limit emissions from existing power plants.
However, emissions reductions are not enough. We must also promote efforts to support communities throughout the country in adapting to the realities of our changing climate. The president’s plan and the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience help communities build better resilience to the impacts of climate change. This is particularly important in ensuring that every American, from every community and every region, is protected from future extreme weather events and other disasters.
Many times throughout history, the Jewish people have faced crisis or the threat of destruction, but we have emerged with hope. In considering the ecological crisis facing our world, we must recognize that Jewish tradition calls on us to adapt to our changing climate and be resilient for the benefit of future generations.