Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Praying With Our Feet: America’s Journey for Justice

Beginning in August, the Reform Movement will join the NAACP on America’s Journey for Justice—an historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C. The Religious Action Center is organizing hundreds of rabbis in partnership with the NAACP for the Journey, which will mobilize activists and advance a focused advocacy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. The Journey for Justice partnership between the Reform Movement and the NAACP reflects the long history of collaboration between our communities. Read more…

President Obama Commutes Sentences

President Obama Pushes Ahead on Criminal Justice

In a video announcement on Monday, President Obama announced that he is granting clemency to 46 men and women. Because of much-needed reforms to sentencing laws, if convicted of the exact same crime today, nearly all of these individuals would have already served their full sentences and reintegrated into society. This announcement comes only a few months after the President commuted the sentences of 22 other individuals in April. In total, the President has issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority have which have gone to non-violent drug offenders. Read more…

A South Carolina Highway Patrol honor guard removes the Confederate battle flag Friday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Confederate Flag Flies No More Over South Carolina Capitol

On Friday, the Confederate flag was permanently taken down from the South Carolina State House, after weeks of activism and debate. The debate was sparked after the killing of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in mid-June. As Reform Jews who advocate for tolerance and equality for all of God’s people, we are glad to see this symbol of hate removed from state grounds. However, we understand that the flag is only a symbol and racial and economic inequalities persist across the country. We hope that the removal of the flag in South Carolina is only the beginning of our country’s efforts towards full inclusion and healing. Read more…

Rabbi Judy Schindler with Co-Pastor Rhonda Kinsey

A Greater Fire

By Rabbi Judy Schindler

Two weeks ago, Charlotte’s Briar Creek Road Baptist Church was a victim of arson. It is less than three and half miles from my home. Their children’s choir sang at our Beth El MLK service three years ago and my kids were close friends with the kids of their former minister, Dennis Hall. I was moved to worship with them the first Sunday after the fire.  Read more…

This Jewish-American Life: Notes on the Fourth of July

This past Shabbat, I was excited to attend services at my home congregation with our Machon Kaplan program participants. During the sermon remarks, Rabbi Danny Zemel (who I’m lucky to call my dad) reflected on a piece of Temple Micah’s mission statement as part of a discussion about events this past week in Charleston, SC and the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality: “[at Temple Micah] we attempt to answer the question of what it means to live a fully American and a fully Jewish life.” Growing up within a congregation and a home that strives to do this, is, in part, what led me to embrace my work at the RAC. Professionally, I can aspire to help create an American Judaism that is meaningful and relevant in the year 2015   Read more…

A Rabbi’s Reflections from Roanoke

On Thursday, June 25, I traveled to Roanoke, Virginia with Legislative Assistant Claire Shimberg and other voting rights advocates from the DC metropolitan area. There, we joined with hundreds of concerned Americans to mark the 2 year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and left voters vulnerable to discrimination. Together, we rallied for voting rights and urged Congress, especially House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, to hold a hearing and restore voting rights for all. Read more…

Carrying On the Social Justice Torch for Voting Rights

51 years ago, on June 21, 1964, civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner were abducted in Neshoba County, Mississippi and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner had been in Mississippi preparing and registering African Americans to vote as part of Freedom Summer. The three men were executed on the side of a dark road in Mississippi, and it took 44 days for their bodies to be found. Their deaths fueled support of the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an Act that we are trying to strengthen and support again today.

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prayer vigil at Morris Brown AME

Searching for Words After the Unspeakable

By Micah Feinstein

Charleston, South Carolina is a quaint coastal city where many families, like mine, head for a reinvigorating weekend escape. Similarly, a house of worship is where one goes to find solace in times of need. On Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, a single gunman shot through this idyllic safe haven, opening fire on congregants attending a prayer meeting at one of the oldest black churches in the nation, Emanuel AME in Charleston, leaving nine dead and millions more with questions. Read more…

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