When I first began kindergarten, I was very excited about school. However, in the following years, my enthusiasm dwindled as school became a routine part of life. I failed to see my school experiences as a privilege, one I obtained solely because of the location where I lived. However, if had I lived elsewhere I may have had a much different schooling experience. If I had grown up in Malawi, I might have used a brick as my desk and shared a textbook with up to ten other children. In Nigeria, I would have struggled to learn due to the constant fear of terrorist groups breaking into my school. Or, I could have been one of the millions of children across the globe that are not even enrolled in school.
Growing up as a Reform Jew in a liberal, socially active environment in Southern California, I always felt that capital punishment and the death penalty were morally wrong and never the right response to crime. Then, as a Reform Jew in the liberal, socially active environment of Boston University, I was faced with a moral dilemma.
On June 12, the governor of Louisiana signed a bill that will close three of the state’s five abortion facilities. Several days later, the only medical provider offering abortion care in northern Alabama shut down. And by September, Texas is expected to have only six abortion clinics. In 2011, that number was 44. Within certain regions of the United States, access to abortion is rapidly vanishing due to legislation known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These TRAP laws attempt to impose burdensome restrictions on abortion providers and limit various services within a state’s borders.
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…
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.
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.
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…