Though the media coverage may have slowed, protests in Ferguson are still ongoing. The challenges of racial divides and mistrust that afflict communities across the U.S. are a tragic emblem of how much work remains to be done to overcome divisions rooted in our nation’s history and the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities. Noting the need to address these issues, many organizations have joined together to continue hosting marches, events and panels to build momentum. A few weeks ago, a number of national and local organizations partnered to host a Weekend of Resistance. Read more…
Many members of the RAC staff are currently in Atlanta at the fall meeting of the Commission on Social Action. Throughout the meeting, the Commission is working on important social justice issues, while also learning about the abundant civil rights history of Atlanta and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During yesterday morning’s opening plenary session, I delivered a d’var Torah connecting our work to Jewish tradition and the civil rights movement. An abbreviated version of the d’var is here:
Almost as soon as the CCAR conference began in June of 1964, the presiding rabbi stepped forward with an urgent telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. King needed rabbis to take part in demonstrations against the segregated city of St. Augustine, Florida and he needed them immediately. The next morning, 16 Rabbis and then leader of the CSA Al Vorspan were at the airport, answering King’s call.
Commemorating the Fifth Anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
By Michael Lieberman
This month we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA), the most important, comprehensive, and inclusive federal hate crime enforcement law passed in the past 40 years. The Anti-Defamation League and the Religious Action Center played critical roles helping to lead the very broad coalition of civil rights, religious, educational, professional, law enforcement, and civic organizations that advocated for the HCPA for more than a dozen years.
With only 16 hours left before early voting was set to begin in Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to eliminate the first week of the state’s 35-day early voting period last Monday. The decision will restrict voters’ access to the polls by eliminating the only week in Ohio’s early voting period that allows citizens to register and vote on the same day. That week is referred to as the “Golden Week” and civil rights groups have said that Sunday and the evening hours are most important to black and low-income voters and the homeless, many of whom do not have the flexibility in their jobs or daily lives to vote during business hours. Read more…
We need only reach back into our ancient Jewish texts to know that throughout our history, it is the youth that carry hope for a promising future: “Your old shall dream dreams, and your youth shall see visions” (Joel 3:1) This February the RAC hopes to translate those visions into action at the Social Justice Advocacy Seminar at 2015 NFTY Convention in Atlanta.
The greatest social change in modern Jewish history was brought about by the youth–the creation of the State of Israel. Zionist youth movements made aliyah in droves in the 1920s to realize a dream of progress, hope and justice. These young pioneers built the infrastructure of the country: they drained the swamps, built the kibbutzim and created the Haganah and Palmach.
Today is National Voter Registration Day. Over the course of the day, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations across the country will hit the streets in a coordinated effort to educate and register eligible voters. The goal of the day is to reach tens of thousands of voters who might not otherwise get the information they need. In 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote due to a missed registration deadline or lack of information on how to register. National Voter Registration Day hopes to put political differences aside and celebrate democracy, unifying the American people. Read more…
I spend every Tuesday at a local nursing home visiting my dear friend, Fay, a Holocaust survivor. At ninety years old, her mind is as sharp as a nail and she easily recounts the story of her life: from the horrors of the camps, to the beauty of Israel, and finally to the hard work, freedom, and challenges of America. Each week as I ready to leave her and return to school, a look of loneliness washes over the smile on her face and I am reminded that her only other visitors are nurses and her devoted daughter who can only visit once a week.
I’m a proud native of Jacksonville, Florida, and probably the biggest fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville’s NFL team) you’ll ever meet. As such, the start of fall always carries a special excitement for me because it means the start of football season, when I can see my beloved Jaguars take the field for the first time in nine months. That excitement has been extra special this year, because the Jaguars were scheduled to play in Washington this past weekend. I was able to find tickets online and so, under a beautiful autumn sky, I took the Metro with the highest of expectations for a lovely day of football.