Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that I was the oldest audience member in the Broadway theater last weekend, except for parents with their pre-teens. “Newsies” is, after all, a Disney musical. In our standing room only “seats,” my friend and I were able to dance along to all of the songs we had known by heart since seventh grade. As we sang along—sometimes a little too loudly — I realized a lot of the meaning of the lyrics I had missed years ago.
All eyes are on Grapevine, Texas today as the Boy Scouts of America begins the annual meeting of its National Council. Earlier this year the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would postpone a reconsideration of its policy prohibiting gay scouts and scout leaders until the meeting this week (see the letter that Rabbi Saperstein sent to the BSA in response to that decision). Today the 1,400 person National Council, including representatives from across the country, will vote on whether or not to lift this ban and make the organization a more inclusive one.
While the new Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill takes many strides toward improving our immigration system, it also includes some significant steps backward. Our Jewish tradition not only teaches us, but commands us to treat the foreigner living in our country with the same laws as our own.
It can sometimes be tough to put a human face on many of the issues we work on here at the RAC. Sure, climate change is a pressing issue facing our planet. Yes, fighting school prayer is a crucial social justice topic with incredibly important implications. But who exactly is affected by our work? Which people, which families, are we fighting for when we lobby on Capitol Hill?
One population that often gets missed in the frenzied political discussions is children. In immigration reform specifically, we hear about the agricultural workers and the women and the adult married children and the LGBT spouses – all really significant demographics that we absolutely should be keeping in mind as we craft comprehensive legislation. But what about their children? Children of immigrants now comprise 25% of the U.S. child population. They make up a crucial sector of our future workforce, yet have little to no voice in the advocacy process.
In response to Congress’ failure to reach a budget agreement and the triggering of sequestration, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Wait, what? What happened to separation of church and state? How can this office exist, if it is created by the government? What do these so-called partnerships entail?
Actually, the separation of church and state is very much alive in the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as I learned at an event on Monday at the Brookings Institution.