Tag Archives: Guest

When We Have Nothing Left to Say to One Another

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…

Swabbing on Yom Kippur: What is a Life Worth Living?

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…

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Spotlight on Teens

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.

Read more…

Bone Marrow Transplant Awareness Ribbon

The Gift of Life

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.

Read more…

"The Gay Agenda: 1. Equality 2. See Item 1"

Freedom to Marry in Washington

This post is part of a series highlighting the amazing work of our 2013 Irving J. Fain Award winners. Continue to check back to learn about the inspirational projects at Reform congregations across North America.

The commandment “Justice, justice shall you pursue” wisely comes with no expectation that the results will be immediate. To the contrary, Rabbi Tarfon reminds us, “It is not incumbent on you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:21)

Rachel Laser & Natalie Bullock-Brown

Reflections on the March on Washington: Reconnecting and Celebrating

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.

Read more…


Standing Idly By as Our Neighbors Bleed

Like many Massachusetts families, the Boston Marathon is very much part of my family’s lives. Every year we gather to watch, volunteer, or run, as my wife and I did in 2008. Drawing thousands of diverse souls from all over the world, the event represents the best of American civil society.

This year, all that was shattered with the murderous blasts of two terrorists’ crazed cruelty. What you saw on television only begins to depict the horror of the tragedy. Scores of victims were maimed, families’ lives forever changed. Amidst the suffering and chaos, people rose to the occasion and story after story emerged about simple acts of courage and risk amidst terror and lives saved. Bystanders, first responders, faith leaders, diverse, and others all heeded the call we read in Leviticus 19: “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.”

Read more…

Gift of Life

Saving a Life on Yom Kippur

At Congregation Beth Emeth in Wilmington, Delaware, Rabbi Robinson asked his congregants if they would save a life if the opportunity presented itself. On Yom Kippur, his congregants are going to have the opportunity to do just that. Beth Emeth is one of 35 congregations participating in Yom Kippur bone marrow swabbing drives in a pilot project with our new partnership with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. On his blog, Rabbi Robinson writes about what it takes to run a drive, and why this congregation wanted to run one on the holiest day of the Jewish year:

When in your time on earth have you had the opportunity to save someone else’s life? How often have you had the opportunity to save another person’s life? If presented with the opportunity to save a life, would you do so?

It’s a challenging question, and I’m sure you’re thinking of this time you had to drive a loved one to the hospital, or that time you called in a traffic accident, or perhaps a time you used the Heimlich maneuver or CPR on a person.

As a people, we take life seriously. The principle of pikuach nefesh, of saving life, trumps all other mitzvot, all other Jewish laws and traditions…

Keep reading on Rabbi Robinson’s blog