Tag Archives: Machon Kaplan
Jewish Action for Immigration

Immigration: A Jewish Perspective

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…

Sexual Violence on College Campuses

College students nationwide are uniting in the fight to prevent and penalize sexual attackers on their campuses.  The Obama Administration has taken a “strong stance” on the issue.  The White House has created a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.  These and other attempts to combat sexual violence on college campuses are promising, but lack a critical collaboration of university administrators, government officials, student activists and concerned constituents.

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The Power of One

There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 1,440 minutes in a day, and 525,600 minutes in a year. In just 60 seconds, 1 child in Africa will die due to malaria. If this doesn’t change, how many children will die this year?

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Equal Pay Is Essential for Everyone

There is no shortage of rhetoric from American politicians about the value of work. The problem is that far too many people are working as hard as ever, only to find that they do not make as much as their colleagues for doing the same work. The wage gap is an unfortunate reality for a significant number of American women.

On average, a woman presently makes 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in America and for women of color the situation is even more drastic. It is estimated that African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar a man makes, while for Hispanic women the figure drops to 54 cents. Women are now the primary wage earners in more families than ever before. This means that millions of people are depending on the wages of women for the basic necessities of living.

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Can We Make “Juvenile Justice” More Just?

Crime is prevalent everywhere in our world. When a person commits a crime, they are punished and, depending on its severity, are eventually brought back into society. While many crimes are perpetrated by adults, teenagers and even children – juveniles – can also commit offenses. A person is considered a juvenile delinquent if they are under the age of eighteen and commit an act that otherwise would be considered a crime if they were an adult. Many juveniles are placed in adult prisons and forced to endure sentences that are inappropriate to their age. The criminal justice system needs to realize that simply locking up a juvenile and throwing away the key is not the answer. We must find ways to keep our young people out of adult facilities and do whatever we can to rehabilitate them and keep them away from a life of crime.

The Sentencing Project compiled a study in 2011 that showed nearly 8,000 minors were in adult jails or prisons that year. In my opinion, this is simply unacceptable. If we work to rehabilitate our juveniles and do whatever it takes to keep them out of prisons and jails, it can lead to better futures for them. Read more…

When Money Equals Influence, Influence Equals Power

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…

Help the Needy, Increase the Minimum Wage

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…

A Reminder for Engagement

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…

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