This Passover: A Season of Justice for the Environment



Passover is my favorite time of year. More than exchanging presents on Hanukkah or blowing shofar by on the beaches of the Atlantic on Rosh Hashanah (my family’s tradition), Passover is when I am most able to connect with my family and my own Jewish values. While the extended meal and Seder lend themselves easily to close interpersonal and spiritual renewal, it’s the central concepts of Passover that make me return to this time of year again and again with excitement and energy; Passover is a holiday about social justice and freedom from oppression. It is an opportunity, among family and friends, to dig deeper into the issues of our time.

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Vandalized Cemetery Courtesy of New York Times

Finding Hope for International Religious Freedom Amidst More Acts of Violence



The news from around the world has recently been filled with visible and violent instances of religiously-targeted violence. Just last week, as many as 250 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Eastern France, an area that used to have a large Jewish population. The Jewish community in France has seen this as a reminder of the increasingly visible and vocal anti-Semitic sentiment that lingers in the country. Though French government leaders have quickly spoken out in condemnation of these attacks and in reassurance to French Jews that they are integral to France, the attacks are upsetting, unsettling and sadly no longer unimaginable acts of hate. Read more…

Chinese dragon for New Years

Moments of Shared Celebration



Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar (chodesh tov!) and Chinese New Year (xin nian kuai le!). We should never lose sight of our responsibilities to and our place in the global community, but when these celebratory days coincide, we are reminded even more of how important it is to find opportunities for dialogue and connection. Two RAC staffers reflect on Chinese-Jewish relations, and how meaningful this relationship is. Read more…

Jewish Disability Awareness Month Logo February 2015

Moving Toward a Culture of Inclusion



By Lisa Friedman

About a year ago I was interviewed for a podcast about inclusive education by The Inclusive Class. While typically geared toward a secular audience, our topic for this episode was inclusion in faith-based schools. You can find the full podcast here.

I hope that this discussion can help you move your journey forward. I am excited that I will again be a guest, along with Torrie Dunlap of Kids Included Together, on February 24.

For those who are struggling to make their place of worship more inclusive:

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The Status of the States: LGBT Equality Across the US in 2014



Last month, the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute released their 2014 State Equality Index (SEI), which analyzes the state of LGBT rights in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Although the fight for marriage equality is often in the headlines, this report highlights the many other laws that impact LGBT people, for better and for worse. Ultimately, while 2014 included many victories for LGBT people on the state level, there is clearly much more that needs to be done in order to achieve full equality.

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Celebrate Purim with the Green Adar Challenge: Eco-Mishloach Manot!



Welcome to the Jewish Month of Adar! This month in the Jewish year we celebrate Purim by reading Megillat Esther, dressing up in costumes and sending our friends and families mishloach manot gift baskets. There are many ways to incorporate environmental themes into every holiday, from reading prayers for our earth in services to using recycled materials to make our costumes. Read more…

Rolling Back Progress on Immigration Reform



The 113th Congress started with high hopes of Democrats and Republicans coming together to reform our broken immigration system, with a comprehensive bill that stalled in the House. This new Congress is stuck over reforms that have already been made. This week promises to be pivotal in the fight over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in Congress and the courts: both the 2012 action that created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the action in November 2014 that created Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Read more…

Unmasking the Use of the Death Penalty



Though Purim is a time to for costumes, carnivals and hamentaschen, the story also prompts big questions, like the use of the death penalty in our society. At the end of the Purim story, we see the death penalty carried out when Haman is hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. This use of capital punishment is notable because though the Torah mandated death for some crimes, the rabbis of the Talmud intentionally made its application so complex and difficult, that it became virtually impossible to use. There is no justice in taking a life for a life, and we learn in Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 that causing a single life to perish is the same as “caus[ing] a whole world to perish.” Read more…

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