New Report is a Call to Action to End Child Homelessness

A recent comprehensive state-by-state report sponsored by the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research shows that the number of homeless children in the country has reached a record high, amounting to one in thirty children being homeless! This means that 2.5 million children in the United States go to sleep without a home of their own each night, a historic high in the number of homeless children in the U.S.

From 2012 to 2013, the number of children experiencing homelessness annually in the US increased by 8% nationally and increased in 31 states as well as in the District of Columbia. But, every state has children experiencing homelessness, with estimations indicating that about half of homeless children are under the age of 6.

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14-15 fellows

Introducing the 2014-2015 RAC/UN Foundation Malaria Fellows

This weekend, our second class our joint Malaria Fellowship with the United Nations Foundation will come to DC to learn about malaria and advocate on Capitol Hill. Fellows will return to campus with tools to raise awareness and funds and begin their advocacy push with letters and calls to Congress, making sure our Representatives continue to fully fund anti-malaria initiatives. Throughout the year, our fellows will build out a core group of students and organizations to help save lives from malaria.

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Getting Covered: Resources for the Start of Open Enrollment Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks an important day for millions of Americans: the beginning of the open enrollment period for the Federal Marketplace. Thanks to the last open enrollment period, millions of Americans who were previously uninsured now have insurance, and this open enrollment period has the potential to help millions more gain insurance. Last week, I wrote about the ways in which congregations and individuals can take action in order to make the open enrollment period a success.  Now, with open enrollment less than 24 hours away, here are some resources about health insurance and the marketplace:

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How LGBT Inclusion in Sports can Inform our Jewish Inclusion Work

I’ll be honest: I don’t normally read articles about sports. I usually skip over the entire sports section of the newspaper, but the other week, I found myself reading some exciting sports-related news: on November 14, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) first openly gay male athlete will compete in one of the big four sports (basketball, baseball, football and hockey). Although I’m not a sports fan, as someone who cares deeply about building inclusive Jewish communities, I felt this story and the reaction of the team could inform our own inclusion work as a Jewish community.

Last April, Derrick Gordon came out publicly, becoming the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball. Since coming out, Gordon’s relationship with his team has changed significantly. A recent profile by Outsports illustrates the transformation of his relationship with his teammates from one in which they made snide remarks and avoided showering with him when they suspected him of being gay to one in which they now ask him about his dating life and treat him just like any other teammate. Gordon’s story illustrates the impact coming out can have on transforming a homophobic atmosphere into one of acceptance and inclusion.

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Securing a High Quality Public Education System for America’s Children

As the graduate from a public high school, I know what the impact of public schools can have on a person. At Newton South High School, I was fortunate enough to have many fantastic teachers, to participate in a number of extracurricular activities, to receive a high quality education that well prepared me for college as well as for my job, and to make great friends, many of whom I am still close with today. My public school education made me the person who I am today.

The number of children attending public schools is at a record level – and it’s growing. This fall, about 49.8 million students are attending public elementary and secondary schools. Yet, many of these schools, especially those that serve children in poverty, are underfunded, overcrowded, and rundown with underpaid, and overworked teachers.

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Waters of the U.S.

Waters of the U.S.: Reform Movement Comments on New EPA Rule

Today, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission for Social Action of Reform Judaism and the Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, gave comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to expand the definition of “Waters of the U.S.”:

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations across North America include 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of Americans Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2000 Reform rabbis, I write in support of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ Proposed Definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (Docket ID No. EPA‐HQ‐OW‐2011‐0880).

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Districts where there are judicial emergencies

Seeking: Benchwarmers for the Federal Courts

With the impending turnover of the Senate, pundits and political commentators are looking at the lame-duck session as a preview of how Republicans and Democrats might work together in the 114th Congress. An embattled, tense session could indicate a similar working pattern in the new Congress, while a lame-duck marked by cooperation could point to a more productive term. While it’s likely that members of two parties will not reach agreement on a number of key issues in the next few weeks, one in particular stands out as a possibility for cooperation: judicial nominations. Read more…

Beyond the ADA: Learning about the Continuous Fight for Disability Rights

When I first learned that I would be the legislative assistant (LA) working on Disability Rights at the RAC, I was very excited; disability rights was a social justice issue that had interested me for a long time but was an advocacy issue with which I had little experience . From my time attending Jewish day school, I knew that our religion emphasized the importance of equality for people with disabilities through the Leviticus verse that states “you shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (19:14). Ultimately, although the issue of disability rights is something I had thought deeply about before joining the RAC, I quickly realized that there was so much to learn on the subject after starting my work on disability rights as an LA.

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