I spend every Tuesday at a local nursing home visiting my dear friend, Fay, a Holocaust survivor. At ninety years old, her mind is as sharp as a nail and she easily recounts the story of her life: from the horrors of the camps, to the beauty of Israel, and finally to the hard work, freedom, and challenges of America. Each week as I ready to leave her and return to school, a look of loneliness washes over the smile on her face and I am reminded that her only other visitors are nurses and her devoted daughter who can only visit once a week.
As the only thriving democracy in the Middle East, Israel is a beacon of light in a region often filled with despair. And yet, despite its democratic nature, when it comes to religious pluralism, Israel has a long way to go. In 1947, Israel adopted the Ottoman Millet system, formerly in place under the British Mandate, which allowed for religious groups within Israel to establish their own legal systems governing personal status laws (marriage, divorce, alimony, etc.) The URJ notes that there are presently 13 recognized religions in Israel, including Judaism, Islam, Druze, and several Christian denominations. Within the Jewish tradition, however, only Orthodox Judaism is recognized by the state under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. All other Jewish denominations, including Reform and Conservative, function under the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
“Whatever valuable information testing mandates provided have been completely overshadowed by the enormous collateral damage inflicted on too many students. Our schools have been reduced to mere test prep factories and we are too-often ignoring student learning and opportunity in America.”- NEA President Dennis Van Roekel
The National Education Association recently hosted the Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) Conference in Denver, CO. The RA is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the association. The NEA members, reaching nearly 9,000 delegates, voted to launch a Toxic Testing Campaign to bring the focus back to supporting students learning. These delegates, most of whom are teachers themselves, are not against testing to understand student comprehension, but rather the excessive need to test of local, state, national and district levels to evaluate a school or teacher. Many times these tests are not as beneficial to the students as the financial gain for the school.
As someone who has traveled a good amount, I can’t say I’m always proud of some of the American stereotypes that are out there, worst of all – that Americans are overweight. This is more than a stereotype nowadays when one in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese. In order to fight the past few decades’ transition to unhealthy behavior, First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move Campaign in 2010.
Years ago homelessness was only found on the streets of cities, a phenomenon hidden from rural and suburban towns. However with a population of over 3.5 million people per year, homelessness is an issue that has spread to all areas of the country. Read more…
“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal…for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition.” – Justice Robert Kennedy, Majority Opinion in U.S. v. Windsor
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in this landmark case, declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act – which defined a spouse as someone of the opposite sex and marriage as a union between one man and one woman – unconstitutional. Following this decision, there was a surge in the fight for marriage equality all over the country. There are currently 19 states along with the District of Columbia that have removed bans on same-sex marriage. Recently, states have been overturning bans on same-sex marriage every other week. It seems that the movement for marriage equality and LGBT rights is at its highest and most successful point. But it’s not.
With seemingly near constant news headlines of mass shootings and other acts of gun violence, debate on prevention measures for public safety is critical. The issue of whether universal background checks should be required for all firearm purchases is a possible solution to decrease some of these disturbing statistics:
- One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot;
- On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated in an emergency room for gun-related injuries;
- Every day, about 51 people take their own life with a gun and 45 people are shot or killed in a gun accident.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1965, change was in the air. At the height of the American civil rights movement, African-American leaders were working to eliminate the barriers that prevented minorities from exercising their 15th Amendment rights to vote. The new amendment, known as the Voting Rights Act (VRA), was successfully signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson that year.