Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Where’s ENDA?

“In some states, employers can fire you for who you are or who you love, it’s close to barbaric…Pass ENDA now. Not tomorrow. Now.” – Vice President Biden

Remember this past November when all we were talking about was the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)? Let me refresh your memory: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a long overdue, common-sense piece of legislation that would extend federal workplace protection to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community historically passed the Senate with a 64-32 vote. This is the furthest the bill has ever come, even though it has been introduced in every Congress (with the exception of the 109th) since 1994.

But that was November…where’s ENDA now? Read more…

Next Year, May We All Be Free

This year we are slaves. Next year, may we all be free.” (Haggadah, “Ha Lachma Anya”)

When I was little, I would practice the Four Questions for hours on end before the Seder began, ensuring that I pronounced every Hebrew word correctly and hit every musical note. When I finally would recite them shortly after the Seder began, I was so nervous I could barely think about anything else. Afterwards my family would applaud and tell me how good a job I had done, and I would be so excited and relieved that I usually paid little attention the next part of the service. But this part, though I did not know it at the time, was the crucial answer to my four questions: Read more…

Is it 2014 or 1964?: Time for a Voter’s Bill of Rights in Ohio

By Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk

Is it 2014? Tell me, really. I live and work as a rabbi in the State of Ohio where you’d think it was 1964. In Ohio, our Secretary of State, our legislature, our Governor and so many others speak out against cheating in the election system. They don’t point to any causes of voter fraud because the insinuation that there is rampant fraud and unfairness in our election system is itself a fraud.  Just two years ago, the Ohio legislature passed a massive election system overhaul called Ohio House Bill 194 and then was forced to withdraw its implementation. Why? Because thousands upon thousands of Ohioans made their voice known that voter ID laws, restrictions on poll workers from helping voters find the proper polling location, and cutbacks in early voting hours, were unfair restrictions and were roundly rejected by the citizens of Ohio. Read more…

Kids in Prison?

March is the Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing, organized by the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. This month is an opportunity for the faith community to address the way in which our society holds children accountable when they are convicted of crimes.

Did you know…

  • Children sentenced to life in prison are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Nearly 80% of such children reported witnessing violence in their homes.
  • The racial discrepancy of youth sentenced to life without parole is massive. African American children receive such a sentence at 10 times the rate of white children.
  • 77% of girls sentenced to life without parole say they have been sexually abused.
  • Children housed in adult prisons are eight times more likely to commit suicide; five times more likely to be sexually assaulted; two times more likely to be assaulted by staff; and 50 percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon compared to children in juvenile facilities. Read more…
Safe Schools Improvement Act

Support the Safe Schools Improvement Act

This past weekend marked the sixth and last RAC L’Taken Social Justice Seminar for the year. For the past 3 months, every other weekend, approximately 300 students have come from all over the United States to Washington D.C. to learn about their role in the political system and how they can be advocates for the issues they care most about. The weekend culminates in a visit to Capitol Hill where the students have the chance to advocate before their members of Congress on the most pressing issues of our time.

This year, students interested in the rights of LGBT individuals had the opportunity to attend an in-depth session on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and particular challenges of marriage equality and adoption rights that primarily effect LGBT adults. In their visits on the Hill, they drew connections from their own lives to talk about why ENDA is such an important, common-sense piece of legislation that would directly affect them and the many LGBT people they know and love.

In having the chance to hear these student’s speeches and personal stories about why the rights and equality of LGBT people is so important to them, I was struck by how some of the students that identified as LGBT spoke about personal experiences of discrimination and harassment. While LGBT children can talk about the fear of growing up and being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity, how do we protect LGBT children from the discrimination they face in their youth? In their school communities and beyond? Read more…

Capital Punishment on Purim?

Purim, on the one hand, is an easy holiday to love. There are costumes, hamentashen, a fun story and songs; we are obligated to have a good time. On the other hand, Purim is also controversial—and one such area worth highlighting is the role of capital punishment in the Purim narrative. Since the era of rabbinic Judaism, capital punishment has been practically impossible under Jewish law, and Reform Jews have long formally opposed the death penalty, “believing that, there is no crime for which the taking of human life by society is justified.” But on Purim, we come across the death penalty several times as we read the Megillah.

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Voting Rights: Too Crucial to Ignore

Since I last wrote about the Voting Rights Amendment Act on this blog, the crucial bill has continued to make progress in Congress, as cosponsors of both parties continue to sign on in support of the bill. Advocates are hopeful that the bill’s provisions can be implemented before the midterm Congressional election in November of this year, a decisive deadline.

Read more…