Last week the Obama administration announced a new regulation that precludes people who are eligible for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, also known as “DREAMers,” from accessing healthcare services under the 2010 healthcare reform law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This stands in opposition to the intention of the ACA and to our Jewish values. Read more…
While walking along a road, a sage saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years,” replied the man. The sage then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise I am planting for my children.”
-Talmud Ta’anit 23a
Every year, religious organizations across the country mark the third weekend in October (this year, 10/19-21) as the Children’s Sabbath. This event is an opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate the children and children’s advocates in their midst, as well as evaluate and reaffirm their commitment to bettering the lives of children across the country.
In 1975, Texas revised education statutes in a manner that allowed the state to withhold funds for the education of children who did not legally enter the United States and permitted local school districts to charge tuition for educating undocumented students. Public anger over these revisions culminated in a landmark United States Supreme Court case, Plyer v. Doe in 1982.
In an opinion written by Justice William Brennan, the Court struck down the revisions made by Texas to their education statutes and for the first time, extended the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection to undocumented immigrants. The effect of this decision was the education of an entire generation of undocumented students who now, because of the inaction of Congress, cannot pursue an education beyond high school. Read more…
On Thursday, June 28, as part of my internship with the National Education Association, I had the opportunity to attend the Joint Conference on Concerns of Women and Minorities. Every year, the Joint Conference provides a forum for teachers who are active on social justice issues. At the opening session, NEA Executive Director John Stocks said the conference is “where social justice fighters strap on their armor and prepare to fight their next battle.” Not knowing what to expect at the conference, I figured that this was just rhetorical exaggeration. And, to be honest, I was slightly frustrated that attending the conference meant I could not be waiting outside the Supreme Court to hear the decision on the Affordable Care Act. But by the end of the day I was amazed, inspired, and so proud to be a part of the NEA this summer.
She only says a few words, but our friends’ granddaughter Stella has one expression down cold: “Uh-oh.” She says it when she drops a toy on the floor or sees a dog trying to sneak food off the table. She feels the stirrings of guilt – her sense of right and wrong forming in her agile brain. The day we will expect her to be fully responsible for all her actions and their consequences seems far off. After all, she is only a child.
On June 25, the Supreme Court ruled that the line between child and adult precludes mandatory life sentences without parole for those under age 18 convicted of murder. The Justices agreed that such mandatory punishment is cruel and unreasonable because the judge or jury must take the age of the defendant into account. Life sentences might still be imposed, but age and circumstance cannot be ignored.
As a rabbi, I agree.
When I was asked earlier this month if I might be interested in contributing a guest post to RACblog to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Rabbi Sally Priesand’s ordination as the first female rabbi in the United States, I thought it would be easy. I am not a rabbi, cantor or Jewish educator – but I am a young Jewish woman. I spent the first few years of my post-collegiate life working in the professional Jewish community, and I remain connected professionally, socially and spiritually to the RAC and the Reform Jewish Movement. There must be so much I could say.
But then I sat down to write. And it hit me – I don’t actually distinguish my Jewish identity from my identity as a woman. I don’t have to.
This time of year, as we start to clean out the Chametz, pull out the Seder plate and get the timbrel down off its shelf – as I ready my home and heart for my favorite holiday – there is also a tinge of sadness to our preparations. Justin’s name, which comes up not infrequently all year, will be mentioned more in the weeks to come – by me, by my wife Tina, by our son. As we unpack the Passover boxes, I know there will be items in there that I will find myself just holding, as I stare in wistful silence. And I will shed more than a few tears preparing for another Passover without him.
What does the wise child say? “I would like to know everything about Passover and its observance.” Since this child is very motivated to learn you should explain the story and all the laws of Passover in great detail.
Justin came into our lives just as Tina and I were finding that our separate lives were merging into one. He was a student of hers originally, but she – and me by extension – became close with him and his parents after her professional role in his life had ended. As Tina and I set up our first home together and planned our first Seder together, we knew we wanted to include them. And I remember saying that we were meant to make this particular Seder.