Rachel Laser Stephane Beder Paris

A Response to the Cries of anti-Semitism in France



In the past few days I have received numerous messages of concern from friends from all over the world. They refer to media coverage of the anti-Semitic attacks that took place in Paris and often make comparisons to World War II, such as the attacks of Kristallnacht.

First, let me be clear: These are very serious and bad events but the situation is far from being the apocalyptic crisis that one could believe when hearing CNN; I can’t help thinking of my Israeli friends who explain that life continues even when siren alerts are heard several times a day.

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Let’s Make Background Checks on Guns Universal



With seemingly near constant news headlines of mass shootings and other acts of gun violence, debate on prevention measures for public safety is critical. The issue of whether universal background checks should be required for all firearm purchases is a possible solution to decrease some of these disturbing statistics:

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Religious Freedom Around the World Today



The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released the International Religious Freedom Report for 2013 last week, which describes in great detail the state of religious freedom in many different countries.  Identifying “Countries of Particular Concern” is one of the things the annual International Religious Freedom Report is tasked with doing.  This year, Turkmenistan was added to the list of CPCs.  The eight other countries on the list, all of which have been on the CPC list previously, are Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. Read more…

stone wall Tisha b'Av menorah

Responding to the Immigration Crisis on the U.S. Southern Border



By Rabbi Robert A. Nosanchuk

Quite often I remember my great bobe and zayde and the little village in Belarus they left to make a life here. I never saw the inside of their village. But I do remember my visits to their home as a child, and can still feel the bristle of my great zayde’s mustache on my cheek when he kissed me and greeted me. I feel called into Jewish activism by their legacy. And tonight I hear them and their generation speaking to me. They are asking: What did you learn from us? What did you learned from what has occurred to us in Europe and then here in the U.S.? What was the oppression we fled? And I hear them telling me of the help given to them when they arrived in this country- the shelter, food, and communal support they needed when they had nowhere else to turn?

These compelling questions are carried with me as I look at what is occurring on our southern borders, here in the U.S. My eyes have become focused on the volatile situation wherein nearly 60,000 children from Central America have streamed across the U.S.-Mexico border, in a huge wave of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

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Double Booked: Continuing the Fight to Support our Working Families



Since the White House Summit on Working Families a little over a month ago, advocates from an exceptionally broad range of organizations, backgrounds, and for us, faith traditions, have been inspired and energized to deeply engage in the necessary work to support the modern American working families.

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Protecting the Right To Vote



“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  -Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1965, change was in the air.  At the height of the American civil rights movement, African-American leaders were working to eliminate the barriers that prevented minorities from exercising their 15th Amendment rights to vote.  The new amendment, known as the Voting Rights Act (VRA), was successfully signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson that year.

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Torah Yad

Opening a New Book: Lessons from Parashat D’varim



Chasidic tales. The foolish but pious people of Chelm. Folklore. Myths. The Jewish people is a people of storytellers. We use stories to make our points, identify moral and ethical responsibilities, and connect ourselves to an ancient tradition. Each time we hear a story, we find ourselves in it. Maybe we don’t always do this consciously, but each of us is looking for that connection; that meaning; that relevance.

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NYC UN Climate Summit

Support a Strong Climate Agreement



The UN Climate Summit, set to take place in New York City on September 23rd, is meant to catalyze action on climate change and mobilize political will for a strong global climate treaty at the Paris 2015 United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While international negotiations have proven challenging in the past, we need to call on our leaders to take action now.

As people of faith, we are commanded to take care of our earth and its resources. Fourteenth century Jewish scholar, Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet wrote “one is forbidden from gaining a livelihood at the expense of another’s health” (Responsa 196). We understand that as members of the Jewish community, we must live by these wise and ethical words. We must therefore advocate for a binding, global commitment that recognizes that while the poorest communities are most impacted by the consequences of climate change, they often contribute least to the problem.

Dozens of faith denominations are jointly circulating a petition calling for moral action on the issue of climate change. You can add your name to the “Faithful Call to Address Climate Change” and join the faith gatherings and events in New York City, September 20-21st.

“As we approach the UN negotiations for 2015, we prayerfully ask that the US government lead, with a commitment to:

  • Legally binding solutions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with scientific recommendations that prevent the worst impacts of human induced climate change.
  • Provide poor and vulnerable communities here and abroad meaningful support to build low carbon and climate-resilient societies.”

Read and sign the full petition here.

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