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Holding Ourselves Accountable: Tending to the Earth

In B’reishit, this week’s Torah portion (parashah), we read the epitomic Jewish environmental verses: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till and tend it” (Genesis 2:15). For both Jewish and Christian communities, this line is the basis of our obligation as stewards of the environment.

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Supreme Court

Take Action to #RestoreVotingRights in Light of Major Loss in Texas

With Election Day only two weeks away, there’s no better topic to discuss than voting rights. The civil rights community is calling today #RestoreVotingRights Day in an effort to engage social media in this important conversation. This election will be the least protected election in almost 50 years because of Congress’s failure to act in the wake of the Shelby County Supreme Court decision. Free and fair elections, secured by the Voting Rights Act, are the cornerstone of American democracy, and this issue should be seen in that way. Voting rights is a Jewish issue, a civil rights issue, a Democratic issue, a Republican issue, and an issue for everyone who believes in our democracy. Read more…

An El Al 747 jet flies in the sky

Standing Up Against Discrimination, from 35,000 Feet Up in the Sky

Here at the Religious Action Center, we take pride in our founding to be a Jewish voice against discrimination and segregation in the early 1960s. Kivie Kaplan (President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1966-1975), for whom the street where is RAC is located is named, was driving in Miami in the 1950s and came across a sign that barred him from entering a hotel because he was Jewish. His driver, a black man, commented that the hotel’s segregation against blacks was implied. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, key legislation in the fight against segregation, was even drafted in the Religious Action Center’s conference room. Read more…

Force Feeding, Guantanamo Hunger Strikes, and What Our Rabbis Teach

Torture, while cruel and inhumane, is not something that we often hear about from mainstream media, nor is it something we have written about very recently at the Religious Action Center. The Reform Jewish position on this issue is clear: in a post-9/11 world we understand the need for enhanced national security, and yet we believe that security must be balanced with the importance of civil liberties and bodily autonomy. Experts agree that torturing prisoners or holding them in extended solitary confinement go beyond the practical needs of national security (since torture is found to be an ineffective way to obtain information) and abandon the constitutional right to due process as well as fundamental Jewish values. Nearly six years after President Obama came into office and promised to close Guantanamo Bay, the detention center stays open and the 149 individuals held there remain.

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Praying for Rain Amidst Droughts and Storms

Last night we celebrated Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Sukkot. As the final day of the fall harvest chag, Shemini Atzeret includes a special prayer for rain called Tefillat Geshem. In the Biblical state of Israel (as opposed to in river-crossed Egypt) rain had incredible significance and was central to the continued viability of Israelite communities. Their gratitude to God for providing rain was necessarily a cornerstone of their religious identity.

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Nuclear Explosion

We Can Still Work with Russia for Nuclear Disarmament

In college, I spent a semester working at a London-based Jewish non-profit that focused on development projects within Ukraine’s marginalized Jewish population, and during that semester I found myself learning a great deal about Ukraine and the people who live there. As someone who cares about the people in Ukraine, and as someone who cares about the world around Ukraine, the violence that erupted this summer is scary and depressing. The news was at times hard to believe, from hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians being displaced, to ever-bleaker prospects among the LGBT community there, to the still-unresolved tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines jet being shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

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Education transforms girls' lives -- and entire societies

Restarting the Scroll for Education for Women and Girls Around the World

Last Saturday, October 11, was International Day of the Girl. Just two years ago, the UN established this commemorative day to raise awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality for young women and children around the world. The day is used as an opportunity for activist groups to come together with the goal of highlighting, discussing, and taking action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere. Read more…

Homeless youth

How Bigotry and Legalized Discrimination Fuel an Epidemic of LGBT Homelessness

“When I transitioned, I transitioned into poverty.” This statement by Ruby Corado, a transgender woman who founded a Bilingual Multicultural Drop Inn-Community Center for vulnerable LGBT individuals, highlights the economic and housing hardships many LGBT individuals face. Although LGBT individuals make up a small percentage of the population, 40% of the homeless youth served by agencies that administer homeless services identify as LGBT.

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