Tag Archives: Civil Rights
Sign Repeal Death Penalty

Taking Aim at the Death Penalty

Controversy has erupted in Utah since Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill into law reinstating the firing squad as a possible method of execution for death row prisoners. Lethal injection will remain the primary method of execution in the state, but the firing squad will be permitted when the proper drugs required for lethal injection are unobtainable. The news has shocked many, who find the method of firing squads to be an outdated and barbaric way of executing people. In fact, Governor Herbert himself has said that he finds firing squads to be “a little bit gruesome.” Read more…

Passover in Hebrew, matzah, kiddush cup

The Other March Madness

Whether you observe Passover according to the strict rules of Jewish law, or you attend one family Seder, or whether your Passover observance is watching The Prince of Egypt, or whatever traditions, practices or customs you find meaningful, the weeks leading up to Passover (April 3-11, 2015) feel like a Jewish March Madness. Between planning Seders, cleaning your house of chametz or mentally preparing yourself for a week of matzah, there’s a lot to get done and it always feels like not enough time. Read more…

Reforming All Aspects of Our Voting System

The right to vote is fundamental to American democracy and has been a key part of the Religious Action Center’s work since our founding in 1961. As you may know, the RAC and Reform Jews have a proud legacy of support for the Civil Rights Movement and portions of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were even drafted right in our conference room! It is for this reason that we were so disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder in June 2013, which invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act and eliminated crucial protections for voters. In the wake of Shelby, we have pushed for a Congressional fix through the Voting Rights Amendment Act, but we know that there are many aspects of our voting system that needs reform. Read more…

Redemption for All God’s Children This Passover

The United States has a mass incarceration problem. While only having 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s incarcerated population, making us the world’s largest jailer. Between 1980 and 2012, the U.S. federal prison population rose from about 25,000 inmates to 219,000 inmates, an increase of more than 790 percent. In fact, at the end of 2013, an estimated 6,899,000 persons were under the supervision of adult correctional systems, which includes those incarcerated in prison or local jail in addition to those supervised in the community on parole or probation. Read more…

Bobby Harris and Sophie in Selma

Reflections from a Father-Daughter Trip to Selma

By Bobby and Sophie Harris

My daughter Sophie and I drove from our home in Marietta, GA to participate in the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. We attended a pre-march program at Temple Mishkan Israel—Selma’s only synagogue. Though the synagogue has less than 10 remaining members, the sanctuary was full that morning. Sophie was one of just a handful of youth who attended the service. Below are our reflections from the day: Read more…

Selma with Vicky

From Egypt to Selma: The Path to Redemption Continues On

When we sit down for the retelling of the Exodus story at our Passover Seder each year, we are both retelling and reliving that experience. As Jews, we are taught that “in every generation, all of us are obliged to regard ourselves as if we had personally gone forth from the Land of Egypt.” Victoria Levi, who we met in Selma while commemorating Bloody Sunday and hearing from inspiring Jewish activists like Peter Yarrow, inspired me with her story. Read more…

Selma: Honoring Our Past, Looking to the Future

Last weekend, a handful of RAC staffers made a trek from the snowy northeast to Alabama, where they joined thousands converging on Selma to observe the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Carrying a RAC banner, they joined a crowd in a symbolic reenactment of a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where civil rights activists 50 years ago met a violent, now-infamous confrontation with police.

But historical commemoration was not the only theme of the weekend. Diverse social justice organizations led programming ranging from educational community organizing workshops to impassioned religious gatherings. A bipartisan Congressional delegation led by Rep. John Lewis discussed using policy to address voting rights, systemic poverty, and criminal justice reform. And a multicultural, interfaith crowd gathered in a small, historic Reform synagogue to honor the Jewish commitment to the civil rights movement, past, present, and future.

Read more…

Rabbi Rachel Timoner

Join Rabbis Organizing Rabbis at CCAR Convention

by Rabbi Rachel Timoner

“Who knows whether you have come to your position for such a time as this?”

Last week we told the story of Mordechai calling Esther to action for her people just days before our country commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama. We honored Esther and Mordechai, who risked their lives to rid their community of the injustice Haman intended to perpetrate, and then we honored Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, John Lewis and many others who risked their lives to rid our country of the injustice perpetuated by structural racial inequality. Read more…

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