It’s that time of year! The newest class of Eisendrath Legislative Assistants arrived at the RAC two weeks ago, and jumped right into the Washington, D.C. world of politics, advocacy and social justice. We are so looking forward to what they will do and accomplish for tikkun olam this year. Clockwise from the top left: Read more…
Last July, I packed up all of my bags, loaded up the trunk of my dad’s car, and made the trek from New England to move to Washington D.C. and begin my post-collegiate professional life.
While I’ve been enjoying the past year in the Nation’s Capital, amidst learning WMATA and running routes, dashing between meetings, enjoying the monuments and museums, it’s impossible not to see the rampant inequality in the District. In Dupont Circle alone, just blocks from the RAC’s office on Kivie Kaplan Way, too many people experiencing homelessness camp out at night, not sure where else to go in the hazy humidity of a D.C. summer or during the winter nights before the federal government closes for a snow day.
Our Jewish tradition is full of journeys, from the very beginning of our sacred texts. Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden; Noah’s Ark and his aquatic sojourn – while these are not explicit commandments from God, they are journeys for these Biblical figures. Later, in parashat Lech Lecha (literally, “go” or “leave”), God commands Abraham “go from your land … to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 17:27). Later on, we read of Moses’ journey from Egypt to Midian, back to Egypt, and then his leadership of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt and the subsequent wandering in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land. Ruth leaves Moab with Naomi to a new land, Israel, where she is a stranger, and finds a new life. Over the course of millennia, Jewish individuals and the Jewish people have journeyed, whether by choice, whether by command from God, whether by necessity due to forced exile, anti-Semitism or more modern crises, such as the pogroms.
Journeys, both literal and figurative, are familiar to us as Jews. Journeys are not easy, and the miles walked and the distances covered illustrate for us the challenges and struggles of the time.
The legislative assistant offices at the RAC have a strange feel to them today—all of the zany pictures and decorations adorning our desks have been removed, the usual desktop clutter has vanished and there is a strong scent of cleaning solution flowing through the air. After 50 weeks at the RAC, it’s our last day, and an opportunity for us to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve witnessed during our time here. Read more…
There are too many Americans struggling to make it paycheck to paycheck because of insufficient wages, and this struggle is further exacerbated by numerous other issues, including payday lending.
A payday loan is a small loan that is framed as being an easy way to help borrowers and to hold them over until they receive their next payment. These loans are typically around $500 or less, and are usually due on a worker’s next payday. Yet these loans do the opposite of creating relief for borrowers.
I have always loved musicals. When I was younger, I remember watching the musical Newsies, a movie about a group of young newspaper workers calling for fair treatment in response to new restrictions by newspaper giant Joseph Pulitzer that make it harder for them to earn money. I would belt out “Pulitzer may own the world but he don’t own us” along with my favorite characters. Through song, the characters illustrate what collective bargaining and organizing can be.
In addition, I remember loving Billy Elliot when I first saw it with my family. The scene when Billy’s family members were all marching on strike along with other coal miners was particularly striking for me. “Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity forever. We’re proud to be working class, solidarity forever,” the coal miners sing. Though they were not the protagonists of the musical, I felt sympathetic to the coal miners’ experiences. How could these workers be experiencing this unjust treatment?
By Megan Sims
If I drive east from the house I grew up in for five minutes, I will go by an abortion clinic. If I drive west from the house I grew up in for five hours, I will be in Lubbock, a moderately sized city, home to Texas Tech University and the economic hub of the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the country. One-fifth of the city’s population lives in poverty. Read more…
Our Jewish values encourage us to advocate for systems that can lift people out of poverty. Jewish history also provides us with an example for helping the needy. During Talmudic times, much of tzedakah (justice) was done though tax-financed, community-run programs that helped those in needed, paralleling the entitlement security that we fight for and continue to fight for today. Through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), we can help provide for individuals in need through the tax system, a structure already in place. We need to ensure that this benefit does not just exist, but that the benefits will lift families out of poverty.