Tag Archives: Civil Rights

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…

The Tragedy and Horror of the Charleston Church Shooting

Last night, 9 people were killed at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina when a 21 year old man opened fire. The tragedy has shaken the country and reminded us that violence and hatred know no boundaries, and can reach us even within the walls of a house of worship. RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser shared the following statement: Read more…

The Value of Human Life: Acknowledging and Addressing Deaths at the Hands of Police

According to The Guardian’s investigation, the deaths of Isiah Hampton, 19, in New York City, and Quandavier Hicks, 22, in Cincinnati on Wednesday, brought the number of people killed by police in the United States in 2015 to 500. The total number includes both unarmed victims and encounters when responding violent altercations. Through a project called The Counted, The Guardian is using reports and crowd-sourcing to keep track of American deaths at the hands of law enforcement. The Counted keeps track of data such as the names, races, ages and other information about those who have died. Read more…

No Trivial Pursuit: Criminal Justice Reform

It is an exciting time for criminal justice reform advocates across the country. Legislators, activists and citizens from across the political spectrum are coming together to make our nation’s justice system more just. This collaboration can be seen in the Bipartisan Summit that took place this past spring hosted by Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile and Pat Nolan. In addition, the new bipartisan Coalition for Public Safety brings together the Koch Brothers, the ACLU, the Center for American Progress and others and is working across the political spectrum to bring about comprehensive criminal justice reform. Read more…

Still Fighting for Voting Rights 50 Years After the Voting Rights Act

The right to vote is the cornerstone of American democracy and our most basic civil right. As Reform Jews and American citizens who care about a variety of social justice issues, we must recognize that all of these issues are inextricably linked to the right to vote. This year is an especially important year to talk about voting rights: this past March marked 50 years since the voting rights marches in Selma, AL and this coming August will mark 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Read more…

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