As I think back on my years of service and involvement in Jewish communal life, I marvel at the key role the Reform Movement played in advancing and achieving civil rights, both in the lead-up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in the years since.
By Stephanie Garry
Every World Malaria Day, I reflect on my life-changing trip to Kenya. Five years ago, I had no idea what to expect while traveling to Kenya to visit refugee camps in Dadaab to distribute the nets that are key in malaria prevention. I had been on safari to Kenya 14 years ago with my husband and son and so loved the air of the land and the romance of the sky—and the vistas of animals on our planet. Read more…
By Rabbi Doug Sagal
Last year, my synagogue hosted a forum on gun violence prevention. The forum was presented by a local advocacy group that had been founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Amongst the speakers were former Governor Jim Florio, who had worked to strengthen gun safety legislation, a dad whose son was killed at Virginia Tech, and several members of the clergy. Also in attendance was a large group from the “New Jersey Second Amendment Society,” an organization of gun advocates who travel to meetings to show their opposition to any further gun safety legislation. Because there had been some unpleasantness at a previous meeting in the community, there were several local and county police officers in attendance to ensure a peaceful meeting. Read more…
Last Yom Kippur, 35 congregations partnered with the RAC and Gift of Life to run bone marrow registration drives. We swabbed over 3,000 people, and already, two matches have been found! We are in the midst of recruiting congregations for our Yom Kippur Gift of Life drives this year, and I’m quickly learning that the project’s best advocates are the clergy, temple staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make last year such a success.
Interested in joining us this year? Sign up here for more information, or register for one of our two upcoming informational webinars:
You’ll hear from RAC and Gift of Life staff; we’ll go over everything you need to know, and YK alum will be available to answer all your questions and concerns about organizing a drive on Yom Kippur. Read more…
As I think about October being Domestic Violence month, I realize that I have spent 19 years bringing the issue of domestic abuse to the forefront in both the Jewish and general communities.
I spent 10 years on the board of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, including two as president. This coalition provides temporary housing to survivors of domestic violence and their young children who witnessed the abuse as well as a full range of services.
Most years, I do not take the time to reflect on how I will make the New Year a meaningful one. But this year, only one week in, I feel like that I have already made an impact in 5774.
About two years ago, I swabbed my cheek as part of a bone marrow drive for a young man I knew who was in need of marrow, but I wasn’t a match. The years passed and I had not thought about the drive, until my phone rang. It was someone I didn’t know. I did not think too much and it didn’t seem like a big deal – after all, I had donated blood before so this felt familiar. And then, about a year ago, I got the call that I was a match and I needed to go for confirmatory testing. Little did I know that they called about 10 other people and asked them to do the same. I still did not think too much of it. Things finally got “real” when I flew to Georgetown Hospital two weeks before the donation for a physical and to meet with the medical team.
We have spent the last month commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement. Natalie Bullock-Brown attended the March with her childhood friend, Rachel Laser (the RAC’s Deputy Director). Read on for Natalie’s reflection on the day, and check out Rachel Laser’s post here!
In our current pundit-driven media culture, where division is promoted to tear apart the bonds that hold people together, it’s easy to become cynical and begin to believe in the idea that if we look, think or believe differently from each other, we must be enemies. George Zimmerman’s merciless hunting down of Trayvon Martin is a good example of this. And certainly, there are factions in our society – who often self identify as “Tea Partiers” or “Republicans” – who not only hope that we will demonize difference, but purposefully play upon our fear of the “other” in order to create, and even deepen, the wedge.