Tag Archives: Interfaith
Spanish Haggadah

Set Your Passover Seder Table with Inclusion and Acceptance

One of my favorite things about Reform Judaism is how much the Reform Movement accepts multicultural families and celebrates diversity. The Reform Movement has always stood for inclusion and acceptance of all types and ways of being Jewish, and our wholehearted embrace of interfaith families is a demonstration of our commitment to pluralism even within Reform Judaism. Read more…

Selma: Honoring Our Past, Looking to the Future

Last weekend, a handful of RAC staffers made a trek from the snowy northeast to Alabama, where they joined thousands converging on Selma to observe the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Carrying a RAC banner, they joined a crowd in a symbolic reenactment of a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where civil rights activists 50 years ago met a violent, now-infamous confrontation with police.

But historical commemoration was not the only theme of the weekend. Diverse social justice organizations led programming ranging from educational community organizing workshops to impassioned religious gatherings. A bipartisan Congressional delegation led by Rep. John Lewis discussed using policy to address voting rights, systemic poverty, and criminal justice reform. And a multicultural, interfaith crowd gathered in a small, historic Reform synagogue to honor the Jewish commitment to the civil rights movement, past, present, and future.

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Rev Barber and LAs

The Power of Prophetic Rage

This past weekend I had the great privilege of being a part of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL. Along with my roommate and four of other legislative assistants (and we later joined up with RAC Director Rabbi Jonah Pesner and Deputy Director Rachel Laser), I headed south to honor the work of those who risked and gave their lives for the Civil Rights Movement and to rededicate myself to continuing their work today. While I expected the weekend to be meaningful, I didn’t understand the full power of participating in the anniversary commemorations until I actually arrived in Selma and was able to hear the stories and wisdom of those around me. Read more…

Anticipating Pope Francis’ Encyclical

It is difficult to find a person within the faith community who is not aware that Pope Francis is writing an encyclical letter (a high level of papal teaching) on the environment. Given his popularity, his choosing the name of Francis – the patron saint of those who promote ecology – and the fact that there has never been such a document in the history of the Catholic Church, it is not surprising that the anticipation is building.

But what might he say? Pope Francis has offered some ideas, and he will undoubtedly build on what has been said before, particularly on statements made by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. Read more…

Bill de Blasio posing with a sign that says "I love #EidinNYC"

NYC Mayor Adds Muslim Holidays to School Closings

After much anticipation, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all public schools in the five boroughs will now be closed for two Muslim holidays: Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Festival of the Sacrifice, and Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan at the end of the summer (this closing will happen during summer school).

Although the City Council had approved a resolution to add these holidays to the school calendars in 2009, Mayor de Blasio (who has been in office a little over a year) has finally implemented this change. Read more…

A Greek Orthodox priest talks to Israeli policewoman outside a seminary in Jerusalem.

IRAC and the URJ Stand Together Against Hateful Attacks in Israel

The Israel Religious Action Center has long brought our attention to the long, hard work that needs to be done to rid our Jewish homeland from violence, hate and discrimination. Unfortunately, IRAC was forced to remind us last week of just how much work there is to do. On Wednesday and Thursday, two religious buildings were torched, first a mosque in the West Bank town of K’fir Jab’a, then a Greek Orthodox Seminary in Jerusalem. Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC, discussed this in the IRAC newsletter, the Pluralist: Read more…

Tony Westbrook

Balancing Minority Identities

By Tony J. Westbrook, Jr.

“So, you’re Jewish? Like full on Jewish? Like Drake.—Jewish? Funny, you don’t look Jewish.”

These are the types of comments I often hear when interacting with new people. I am often surprised by the number of people that feel compelled to ask me if I am Jewish, as if it isn’t obvious from my kippah and tzitzit. I find it interesting that no one has ever said, “It’s funny, you don’t look Black.” The fact of the matter is I am both Black and Jewish (or Jewish and Black). I am a minority within a minority. When people meet me, the most common comment I hear is that I am nothing like they imagined, which leaves me wondering, what exactly do people see when they see me?  Do they see an individual, separate from the images that pervade the media? Do they see an individual who does not fit their narrow view of what it is to be a Jew, or what it is to be a person of color? Am I being thrown into the all Jewish box? The all Black box? Read more…

Edmund_Pettus_Bridge

Selma, 50 Years Later: What Can You Do to Mark this Occasion?

Next weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965, civil rights leaders led 600 peaceful marchers from Selma towards Montgomery, AL in pursuit of voting rights, but were stopped after just six blocks. The marchers were brutally attacked by police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Images of the confrontation were televised across the country and the world, horrifying citizens and rousing much-needed, broad public support for voting rights. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year. Read more…

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