One of the coolest parts so far about working as a legislative assistant at the RAC is the opportunity to learn about such a wide array of political issues. Coming into the job, I knew almost every bill going through Congress that dealt with U.S.-Israel relations, but aside from that I never had the time or the resources to learn the legislative landscape for issues like reproductive rights or health care or climate change. I was always passionate about those issues and I knew what I wanted out of government policy for them, but I lacked a real sense of how our government was trying to make (or not to make) those policies a reality.
The Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Class of 2014-2015 began work on Tuesday and is deep into the orientation program. This is my favorite time of year, when the new LAs infuse the office with their energy and enthusiasm, but also because it’s an excuse for me to invite former LAs back to the RAC to teach the new class.
By Joy Friedman
Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR) has good news to share! ROR, a project of the Reform Movement’s social justice initiatives: the Justice and Peace Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center, and Just Congregations, has spent the last year and a half working for justice for immigrants and the rights of American citizenship through immigration reform.
Millions of undocumented workers and families in America are forced to live in the shadows due to outdated and discriminatory immigration laws. If Senate Bill 744 had become law, many of those immigrants would have had a path to citizenship. Without the passage of badly needed reform, thousands of immigrants are torn from their families every day through deportation. At the spring Commission on Social Action meeting, the CSA approved Rabbis Organizing Rabbis’ new Immigration Reform strategy: defending undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Last week, after quick vetting by the CSA, a minyan of rabbinic ROR leaders made their first foray into deportation defense. Working with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), ROR leaders helped to save Yestel Velazquez, a New Orleans community and civil rights leader, from imminent deportation!
By Rabbi Robert A. Nosanchuk
Quite often I remember my great bobe and zayde and the little village in Belarus they left to make a life here. I never saw the inside of their village. But I do remember my visits to their home as a child, and can still feel the bristle of my great zayde’s mustache on my cheek when he kissed me and greeted me. I feel called into Jewish activism by their legacy. And tonight I hear them and their generation speaking to me. They are asking: What did you learn from us? What did you learned from what has occurred to us in Europe and then here in the U.S.? What was the oppression we fled? And I hear them telling me of the help given to them when they arrived in this country- the shelter, food, and communal support they needed when they had nowhere else to turn?
These compelling questions are carried with me as I look at what is occurring on our southern borders, here in the U.S. My eyes have become focused on the volatile situation wherein nearly 60,000 children from Central America have streamed across the U.S.-Mexico border, in a huge wave of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Thousands of years ago the Jewish people were expelled from the land of Israel into the Diaspora. They remained there until 1948 when the Jewish people finally achieved the dream of a homeland when the State of Israel was born. The Jewish people have never been strangers to exile or xenophobia. Having had this unique background and history enables Jews to examine the issue of immigration reform through a fresh perspective, which will hopefully add some common sense to the chaos with which this issue has been associated in recent years. The immigrants who come to the U.S. are often exploited for cheap labor while also being robbed of any semblance of human dignity and human rights. In the Bible, Moses flees from Egypt after slaying one of the Egyptians, eventually wedding Zipporah who bears him a son, Gershom. Translated into English, Gershom means the sojourner and the Bible exclaims that Moses named his son thus because “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” Read more…
By Leah Citrin
In the last several weeks, considerable press time has been spent covering the humanitarian crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. A surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America has spurred much discussion and debate about the best way to address the fact that to date, 58,000 undocumented and unaccompanied minors have entered the United States. This number is more than double the 24,500 unaccompanied minors who entered the United States in 2013.
On Monday, President Obama announced a significant change to immigration policy, stating in a Rose Garden address that he would begin “a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.” The announcement came after a report that House Speaker John Boehner informed the President that he would not bring up an immigration reform bill for a vote in the House this year. Read more…
One year ago today, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, a comprehensive bill aimed at reforming numerous aspects of our immigration system. Read more…