URJ Crane Lake Camp Acts on Climate

This week, the Chaverim and Olim campers (ages 13-15) of URJ Crane Lake Camp have been learning about the issue of climate change and exploring their personal impact on the environment. As is tradition at Crane Lake, each week of the summer focuses on a particular Jewish value, middot. This week, the value is bal tashchit, “do not destroy,” which has commonly been understood as, “do not waste,” in the context of our stewardship of the planet and our use of natural resources. Read more…

Champions of Change: Re-Entry and Employment

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the White House event, Champions of Change: Re-Entry and Employment. The event honored 16 Americans doing extraordinary work in their local communities to facilitate employment opportunities for individuals formerly involved in the criminal justice system. Attendees heard from inspiring speakers and two panels featuring the “champions.” For advocates and federal officials, it was an opportunity to take a look at best practices and local success stories in this critical area. Read more…

Equal Pay Is Essential for Everyone

There is no shortage of rhetoric from American politicians about the value of work. The problem is that far too many people are working as hard as ever, only to find that they do not make as much as their colleagues for doing the same work. The wage gap is an unfortunate reality for a significant number of American women.

On average, a woman presently makes 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in America and for women of color the situation is even more drastic. It is estimated that African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar a man makes, while for Hispanic women the figure drops to 54 cents. Women are now the primary wage earners in more families than ever before. This means that millions of people are depending on the wages of women for the basic necessities of living.

Read more…

Double Booked: Relegating the “Mad Men” Era Workplace to TV

By Allison Wohl

“Progress does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez reminded us at the White House Summit on Working Families.  Nowhere is this reality more evident than in discussions taking place in Washington about the difficulties of modernizing federal policies that are often decades behind societal changes.

To demonstrate that the workplace policies and biases are still in place from the “Mad Men” even as family lives have changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Working women make up half the workforce and bring home 44% of household income.

Read more…

Can We Make “Juvenile Justice” More Just?

Crime is prevalent everywhere in our world. When a person commits a crime, they are punished and, depending on its severity, are eventually brought back into society. While many crimes are perpetrated by adults, teenagers and even children – juveniles – can also commit offenses. A person is considered a juvenile delinquent if they are under the age of eighteen and commit an act that otherwise would be considered a crime if they were an adult. Many juveniles are placed in adult prisons and forced to endure sentences that are inappropriate to their age. The criminal justice system needs to realize that simply locking up a juvenile and throwing away the key is not the answer. We must find ways to keep our young people out of adult facilities and do whatever we can to rehabilitate them and keep them away from a life of crime.

The Sentencing Project compiled a study in 2011 that showed nearly 8,000 minors were in adult jails or prisons that year. In my opinion, this is simply unacceptable. If we work to rehabilitate our juveniles and do whatever it takes to keep them out of prisons and jails, it can lead to better futures for them. Read more…

Capital pride logo

Pride Everywhere

This past month, people throughout the country and around the world participated in LGBT Pride.  In San Francisco, for the first time, 14 Reform Jewish congregations in the greater Bay Area marched together with 75 participants from URJ Camp Newman behind a Union for Reform Judaism banner. Inspired by the Jewish teachings about the equality and dignity of every human being, approximately 200 Jewish individuals came together for this momentous occasion and this public display of support. Check out the JWeekly article for more details. Read more…

Denominations Unite To Stop Smoking

Join the webinars to learn more:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with the faith community to promote Tips from Former Smokers. Tips is a national tobacco education campaign that encourages Americans to quit smoking, by “showing the toll that smoking-related illnesses take on smokers and their loved ones.” The Tips campaign goals include building public awareness of the health damage caused by smoking, encouraging smokers to quit, and encouraging smokers not to smoke around others, in order to avoid the effects of secondhand smoke. You have probably seem some of their memorable ads, which vividly depict some of the consequences of smoking. Take a look at the campaign’s website, which features powerful personal stories and important information about the consequences of tobacco use. Read more…

Double Booked: The Four-Tenths of 1% Solution

By Shifra Bronznick

I have been passionately involved in fighting for women’s equality since 1964 when, as a fourth grader, I announced that I wanted to be the first woman president of the United States.

My declaration was met with mockery. “You mean: first woman president of the garbage department?” said Claude, the boy sitting to my right. I responded without thinking with a swift punch to his nose.

It was a short-lived campaign for President but the start of a life-long journey to expand women’s opportunities for success on every front – personal, professional, and political.

Fifty years later, I participated in the first White House Summit on Working Families. I was moved when Barack Obama declared “When women succeed, America succeeds…21st-century families deserve 21st-century workplaces…And that means paid family leave, especially paid parental leave.”

Read more…