In 2010, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in favor of Citizens United in the landmark case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee. This decision meant that there would be no limit on independent spending by private corporations to organizations that clearly support but do not coordinate with specific candidates. These organizations have been termed Super PACs. Essentially, corporations are seen through the eyes of the court as people, with the ability to donate however much they see fit. This amount was astronomical in the 2012 presidential election ($567 million). Read more…
By Rabbi Benjamin Zeidman
A couple weeks ago, my son turned one year old. Before he was born I thought I knew what it meant to worry about the future. Now, I realize that “naïve” is a nice way to describe me just over a year ago. For all my best intentions, I didn’t have a clue.
We live in New York City, which means we live in the largest city in the country. With more than eight million people, it is twice as large as the next largest city (Los Angeles). That means we live in the city which is home to the largest population of homeless people in America: At least 53,615 as of January, with more than 22,000 of them children.
In a city like this one, my son encounters evidence of homelessness several times a day. As he grows more and more aware of his surroundings, it won’t be long until he’s asking the most difficult questions about the things he sees. So now I’m worried in a way I’ve never been before about the kind of world my son will grow up in. And I’m especially concerned that when he looks around, he sees himself in a world that strives for justice, equality and possibility. Read more…
America is called the land of opportunity, but upward mobility is much more of a challenge in 2014 than it was in past decades. Wealth is becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of the one percent while wages in the middle are becoming stagnant. Further compounding this problem is the fact that the minimum wage has become dated—it does not rise with inflation or increased living costs. The current federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour–its value is so low that it cannot keep a single parent with one child out of poverty. For the countless individuals living on the minimum wage, any chance of advancement or prosperity can seem impossible. Read more…
We sit in a finely furnished room, all in comfortable chairs, around a wooden table. Dressed in business attire, we position ourselves in a relatively comfortable way, a way that jointly exhibits our determination and professionalism. It is when we begin sharing stories, though, that the most vital characteristic we share surfaces: compassion.
As I observe most of the lobby visit we are having, I take notes on key points. There was one statement that reached me like a punch to the stomach, made by a congressional staffer. She said: “I can’t imagine that.” That is in part a caring statement, but is also actually part of the problem. The lack of knowledge of what it is like to live in poverty, to go hungry, is something that should be used not as a way to sadly mention pain and move on, but as a hint at the necessity of mobilization. Read more…
What a day!
After more than 80 blog entries on Double Booked, including nearly 40 faith leaders writing, we were more than ready for yesterday’s White House Summit on Working Families. Double Booked made a splash! The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism was honored to bring 40 moral and religious activists to the Summit, establishing a strong faith presence.
The Summit also displayed five posters from Double Booked and included over 20 Double Booked slides in an ongoing slide show on display.
Today, the White House’s summit on Working Families is helping elevate a conversation we have been fostering here at the RAC through our Double Booked initiative. As our deputy director Rachel Laser indicated in her post last week, this series “has lifted up unique and diverse moral voices and personal stories around working families issues – starting a conversation about policy and cultural changes we need in our country that would benefit not only working families, but also workplaces and our broader national community.”
Stay tuned as we share live updates from the Summit, where some 40 moral leaders and advocates are ensuring a strong faith and Jewish presence in this important dialogue.
Last Wednesday, members of Congress, labor unions, civil rights organizations and faith groups participated in the first Witness Wednesday. Witness Wednesday is modeled after Rev. Barber’s Moral Mondays in North Carolina, where weekly he draws attention to draconian changes made to state laws. However, Witness Wednesdays in Washington, D.C. specifically highlights the failure of the House of Representatives to pass an extension of crucial unemployment benefits that expired on the first of this year. Read more…
The following statement was released today by Reform California:
As leaders of Reform CA, an initiative of the California Reform Jewish Movement for justice, we are overjoyed by the bold decision of our state leadership to invest significant and long-term cap-and-trade funding into the building of affordable homes near transit in California.
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations and Lead Organizer of Reform CA, stated:
“In the book of Genesis, the protection of the earth is placed in our hands. And as a Jewish people whose central narrative is that of wandering without a place to call home, we have a fundamental responsibility to address the suffering that comes when one who seeks shelter can find none. It is with this dual responsibility in mind that we have come together on this issue as Reform Jews from every corner of California to turn our faith into action.”
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, a resident of Sacramento and Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, added:
“Building these homes will help reduce the number of miles traveled by cars on our state’s roads and highways by over one hundred million miles each year. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be significant, as will be the impact on the lives of so many of California’s hard working families who struggle to afford their rent or mortgage.”
To campaign for this decision, Reform CA leaders traveled to Sacramento to meet with over 30 legislators and the Governor’s office. Local clergy and lay leaders also campaigned in their home districts and sent over 700 letters to Assembly Members and Senators. In addition, 55 California rabbis and cantors signed a petition to Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. Dozens of Reform rabbis preached about this issue from their pulpits, making spiritual and moral calls to address California’s urgent need for affordable homes and a healthy environment.
We applaud the courageous leadership of Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, as well as our state legislature, including Senate President Pro Tempore Elect Kevin de León. Today is a great day for California — and for our children, our grandchildren, and the many generations that will follow as we take another step closer to the California of our dreams.