I’m Moving



I am moving apartments this week.  It’s a tough and emotional process, but like everyone else coping with these kind of challenges these days, how can you complain?  Proportionality has become a fact of life in Israel, just like the sirens and the terrible images from southern Israel and Gaza.  I spent this Shabbat in an empty apartment, surrounded by boxes, not sure where I packed my reading glasses, fully aware that my quiet desperation paled in comparison with the feelings of the thousands of mothers who spent this Shabbat unsure of where their sons or spouses are. Read more…

Choosing Life over the Death Penalty  



Growing up as a Reform Jew in a liberal, socially active environment in Southern California, I always felt that capital punishment and the death penalty were morally wrong and never the right response to crime. Then, as a Reform Jew in the liberal, socially active environment of Boston University, I was faced with a moral dilemma.

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Defend Women's Reproductive Rights

Ensuring Access to Abortion in America



On June 12, the governor of Louisiana signed a bill that will close three of the state’s five abortion facilities. Several days later, the only medical provider offering abortion care in northern Alabama shut down. And by September, Texas is expected to have only six abortion clinics. In 2011, that number was 44. Within certain regions of the United States, access to abortion is rapidly vanishing due to legislation known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These TRAP laws attempt to impose burdensome restrictions on abortion providers and limit various services within a state’s borders.

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The URJ Tent

Updates for Community Social Action



This past month has been a difficult one. The news of the three Israeli boys found murdered, the retribution killing of a Palestinian teenager, and then the flare up of fighting have given us all heavy hearts. If you haven’t already, please take a minute to learn more about the Stop the Sirens campaign, which the Reform Movement has joined as part of a global Jewish response to the fighting.

July also marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, and the coming year will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. These two pieces of legislation were crafted by Jewish and African-American advocates in the RAC’s historic conference room, and we should all be proud of that history. If your congregation is interested in commemorating these events, visit our Shabbat Tzedek pageand be sure tocheck out the Institute for Southern Jewish Life’s Freedom Summer Service.Finally,I hope you’ll join the RAC on Yammer! Yammer and the “Tent” are a message board and resource bank system. Once you’ve signed up, be sure to subscribe to the Social Action group, where you’ll be able to learn from and share with hundreds of other social activists!

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Update on Iranian Nuclear Negotiations



This past Sunday, July 20th, marked the original deadline set by the P5+1 countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) and Iran to reach an agreement after months of nuclear negotiations in Geneva.  As many people, including politicians, journalists, and faith leaders, predicted, the countries agreed to extend the negotiations for an additional six months.  (This extension comes seven months after P5+1 and Iran reached an interim agreement in late November.  That agreement, which was implemented beginning on January 20, resulted in a roll back of a few sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, including halting production at Arak, Iran’s heavy-water reactor.) Read more…

Ratifying the Disabilities Treaty: Bringing the Shameful Wall of Exclusion Down



This Saturday, July 26th, will mark the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed in to law by President George H.W. Bush.  President Bush ended his remarks that day by saying: “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”  He was, of course, alluding to another wall that had only recently fallen—the Berlin Wall.  I was born a few months after both those historical events took place and I am often struck that at twenty-three years old, my friends and I are the first group of Americans to grow up in an America where it is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability.   Read more…

An Update on “Stop the Sirens”



This blog originally appeared at ReformJudaism.org on July 20, 2014.

As you know, the conflict in Gaza has intensified. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Israeli soldiers killed in action, with our brothers and sisters in Israeli, and with all who are in danger.

When the conflict began, the Reform Movement made a decision to join Stop the Sirens, a community-wide campaign, coordinated by Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA), to provide relief and support to the most heavily impacted Israeli communities. We did this rather than creating our own campaign to support our Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) congregations and the vital work the IMPJ itself is doing because we thought it was important to show support for the larger communal effort.

The campaign has already allocated $8 million for “respite and relief.”

ARZA Chair Rabbi Bennett Miller is doing a great job representing our Movement on the JFNA Allocations Committee, assuring that the allocation reflect Reform Jewish values as well as Reform Movement interests.

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The Moral Imperative of Non-Discrimination



Amidst the suffering and conflict occurring in too many parts of the world, the White House delivered good news and something to celebrate today.  Rabbi David Saperstein and I were privileged to be in the East Room of the White House this morning to watch President Obama sign an Executive Order prohibiting all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against LGBT employees and adding gender identity to federal government’s current prohibition of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Read more…

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