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#WhateverItTakes as We Journey Through the Wilderness

Summer 2015 was a historic and momentous summer: we applauded when the Supreme Court affirmed key tenets of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell; we welcomed the much overdue new LGBT inclusion bill when it was introduced in Congress; and we were called to action by the Pope’s encyclical as an interfaith rallying cry to combat climate change.

And let us not forget when we lifted up our voices and our timbrels together in song and dance, just as our ancestors did when they reached the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 15) when we learned of the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling establishing marriage equality as the law of the land.  

But Summer 2015 has also been incredibly sad.  To quote from an email I received from Kirstin Moore, Director of Partnerships at Everytown for Gun Safety: “this has been a long, hot and cruel summer of gun violence in America. Americans have been gunned down in movie theaters, military recruitment centers, places of worship, homes, street corners and now on live TV.”

Just as we rejoiced this summer, we also know “that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt; that there is a better place, a promised land;(Michael Walzer, Mishkan T’filah, p. 157,adapted from Exodus and Revolution by Michael Walzer) Read more…


Ruling for Marriage Equality Ensures Epic Pride Month 2015

Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued a historic ruling in favor of marriage equality, which establishes marriage equality in all fifty states. As we celebrate this victory for equality and as LGBT Pride month comes to an end, here’s a look back at some of the LGBT milestones that occurred this month:

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March Jobs Reports Shows Need For More Work on Economic Justice Issues

On the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly report, which details the unemployment rate, the number of jobs that the economy added by month, and other pieces of information about the economy. The reports serve as important measures of the economy’s status. They also affect financial markets and are sometimes used to reflect the current administration’s effectiveness on economic issues.

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Youth GOTV

Get Out the Vote: A Guide for First-Time Voters

Election Day 2014 (Tuesday November 4) is right around the corner, and we hope that you will exercise your democratic freedom and vote in this important election!

This election cycle, vital political, economic and moral issues of concern to all Americans are at stake. As Jews and American citizens, we have an obligation to vote in the elections to ensure that our country’s policies at the local, state and national levels reflect our commitment to social justice. Every vote counts and plays a defining role in setting policy agendas.

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Humanitarian Crisis at the Border

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.

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Double Booked: Potential Spaces

By Eleanor Smith

Many years into a thriving congregational rabbinate, I was called to study medicine.  Out of the blue, my father’s fantasy that had never been mine.  For two years I kept this crazy thought to myself but in the end decided there was no failing scenario and I headed off in the direction of this strong signal I heard in my head every day.   One encounter probably watered the seed.  Called to the hospital for a simultaneous bedside consultation with the doctor, the rabbi (me then) and the patient’s family, we pooled what we knew of medicine, Jewish ethics and a father’s legacy to decide the best course of care for the elderly gentleman before us.  As much as I loved being a rabbi, I was also acutely aware of the borders where my skills dropped away, in no arena more dramatically than in matters of sickness. With my bachelor’s in English literature and my three young children, I began an almost twelve year adventure to fill in this missing half, to expand the horizon of service that I now knew to be possible, to forge a hybrid of the physical realm with the psycho/social/spiritual one I knew so well. Read more…

Israel at URJ Biennial

Israel at URJ Biennial

Prime Minister Netanyahu  is only one of a wide variety of Israel-related programmatic and experiential opportunities at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial next week in San Diego. From the exhibit hall to the plenary stage, the URJ invites you to a wide variety of Israel-centered features:

Israel Engagement Intensive – Forging a New Relationship with Israel
Join Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, to discuss the Jewish State through the lens of Jewish values, exploring what concepts such as peoplehood, sovereignty, and democracy mean to us, to Israel, and to Jewish thinkers from across our tradition. Dr. Kurtzer will be joined by a number of Reform Movement leaders who are Senior Rabbinic Fellows of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Israel Forum – The Torah of Pluralism
For 65 years, Israel has been the nation state of the Jewish people. But does today’s Israel reflect and celebrate the diversity of Jewish life and practice? Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism will moderate Member of Knesset Ruth Calderon and Rabbi Donniel Harman, President, Shalom Hartman Institute, in a discussion about the fight for religious pluralism in Israel and the quest to build a Jewish community that values many equally authentic paths to Jewish commitment and love of Israel.

Israel in the Gaslamp District

Tribute to Rabbi Professor David Hartman z”l
Rabbi Rick Jacobs will open the conference with an acknowledgement of the extraordinary contributions of Shalom Hartman Institute founder Rabbi David Hartman and how he influenced Rabbi Jacobs’ own rabbinic outlook. Rabbi Hartman, z”l, will be posthumously honored with the Alexander M. Schindler Award to World Jewry.

Honoring Anat Hoffman
The Women of Reform Judaism will present the Jane Evans award to Anat Hoffman, Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, for her extensive and passionate work on behalf of religious liberties in Israel.

Unique Israeli Worship Experience with Beit Tefilah Israeli
Experience the vitality of contemporary Israeli culture with Rabbis Lisa Tzur and Esteban Gottfried and the Beit Tefilah Israeli musicians. This Thursday morning service will integrate Israeli and pop music, poetry, and the ancient words of our people.

Israel on Stage: The Big Blue Tent
MAKOM, a division of the Jewish Agency for Israel, will present an original piece of theater, written especially for the Biennial. The piece explores a community in crisis over Israel. The community leader struggles between silencing public debate about Israel and losing the support of a major donor. After the 30 minute play, the audience will be invited to give their opinion to the actors, who will replay the scenes according to the audience’s advice. Can you unite the community around Israel in a healthy way? Be part of the solution!

Learning Sessions About Israel

Woman Coddling Baby with the text "WIC"

Protect the Vulnerable During the Holidays: Women at Risk

As we enter the holiday season, Congress continues to work in conference committees to find a compromise in funding levels for numerous government programs in the Farm Bill and the FY2014 budget . This post is the first in a series highlighting the effects of sequestration cuts and potential funding cuts that could come out of conference. Read more…