Tag Archives: Criminal Justice
Rabbi Rebekah Stern

From Heartbreak to Action: Racial Inequality in California

by Rabbi Rebekah Stern

I lay in bed one night late last summer, scrolling, as I often do, through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone. As a congregational rabbi and a mother of two young children—a now almost five-year old girl and two-year old boy—these last moments before I fall asleep are the only ones I seem to have to catch up on the lives of my more distant friends.

These were the first painful weeks after Michael Brown’s death. The weeks when we were reminded that there is sometimes a shocking discrepancy between the way that my white family experiences interaction with law enforcement and the way that black families often do.

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Ferguson clergy protest

At the Consultation: Black-Jewish Relations Past, Present and Future

At the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience April 26-28, 2015, we are thrilled to have Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri and Aaron Jenkins of Operation Understanding DC lead a workshop on how congregations can engage in the important civil rights work of our time. Rabbi Talve will speak about her activism in the St. Louis and Ferguson area in the time since Michael Brown’s death, and the role of congregations and faith leaders in leading this work. Mr. Jenkins will talk about his work as Executive Director of Operation Understanding DC and the importance of dialogue, especially between the black and Jewish communities. Read more…

Bryan Stevenson

At Consultation: Addressing Injustice in our Justice System

At the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience on April 26-28, Reform rabbis and social action leaders from across the country will gather to hear experts speak about the crucial issues of today – including racial and economic justice. On Monday morning of the Consultation, we have the privilege of hearing from Bryan Stevenson, the founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Tune in to the live stream at 9:00 AM on Monday morning to hear Mr. Stevenson share his story and his work. Read more…

people gathered praying for Walter Scott

Another Tragic Shooting Highlights Urgent Need for Action

We mourn the tragic death of Walter Scott this past weekend in North Charleston, South Carolina and send our thoughts and prayers to his family and community. Over the past year, our nation’s consciousness has been raised as we have watched Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many more tragically and unnecessarily lose their lives. We hope that the charges brought against the police officer indicate the seriousness with which this situation will be handled.   Read more…

President Obama at the State of the Union 2014

President Obama Takes Important Action on Commutations

On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the drug sentences of 22 individuals, more than doubling the number of commutations he has issued throughout his entire presidency. The men and women who were granted clemency had been imprisoned under an outdated sentencing regime, and “had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” said White House counsel Neil Eggleston in a statement. In fact, many of these individuals served years, some even more than a decade, longer than they would if convicted of the same crime today. Read more…

Girls in 1909 protesting slavery in Yiddish and English

The Modern Plagues of Inequality

On Passover, we remember the ten plagues that were put upon the Egyptian people. Thousands of years later, modern-day plagues of inequality should ignite contemporary responses to combat these injustices. Many of the most vulnerable members of our society are disproportionately affected; they cannot be “passed over” or ignored, especially during this important holiday. As we think about the ancient plagues, let us also keep in mind those who still live under the weight of modern plagues.

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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…

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