Last week I joined the Religious Action Center’s programming team at NFTY Convention 2015 in Atlanta, GA to help lead a social justice track.
At the January 9-12, 2015 L’Taken Social Justice Seminar, Jason Weiner, Joey Chanin, Drew Baker, and Jacob Shippel from Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, Georgia spoke to staff from the offices of Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue, and Congressman Tom Price (GA-6) to share why raising the minimum wage is important to them as Jews, as Americans, as Georgians, and as young people. Here are some excerpts from their speech:
By Alexa Broida
I had the pleasure of spending MLK weekend with NFTY Southern in Memphis at their “Kallah Clave” social justice weekend. Back in the fall, the NFTY Southern Regional Advisor, Becci Jacobs, reached out to Mitzvah Corps as a partner in the visioning of the event and we began brainstorming together. Being able to have been not only a guest, but a part of planning the event, gave me additional insight into the depth of dedication of the planning process. Over the last few days, as I’ve begun to really process the significance of the event and to find the words to even begin to do justice to the incredibly powerful experience that the team there put together, I’ve continued to feel inspired and empowered. Read more…
By Reuben Bank
When people ask me why I’m passionate about social justice I always struggle to find the correct answer. There are several generic responses that I could go to such as, “because there are so many unjust things in the world,” or another classic, “because I have a passion for helping people,” but these never seem to work for me. They don’t encompass the real reasons that I am passionate about tikkun olam, about repairing the world. I’m not passionate about social justice by itself, I’m not interested in doing random community service hours every weekend. As a Reform Jewish teenager, I am passionate about being a part of a movement.
By Debbie Rabinovich
Do you really celebrate Thanksgiving? When I was younger, I remember being asked this question. I remember not knowing how to answer. My family had Thanksgiving dinner every year- complete with dry turkey and mysterious stuffing. We went around saying nice things to each other. That was Thanksgiving, right?
Looking back, I realize how strange that question was. I had classmates who had heard me talking about going to Peru and speaking in Spanish and they had taken it upon themselves to figure out that my family wasn’t American enough for Thanksgiving. But here’s my point of view: if it makes sense for anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s families like mine. Families of immigrants.
I’ll be honest: I don’t normally read articles about sports. I usually skip over the entire sports section of the newspaper, but the other week, I found myself reading some exciting sports-related news: on November 14, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) first openly gay male athlete will compete in one of the big four sports (basketball, baseball, football and hockey). Although I’m not a sports fan, as someone who cares deeply about building inclusive Jewish communities, I felt this story and the reaction of the team could inform our own inclusion work as a Jewish community.
Last April, Derrick Gordon came out publicly, becoming the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball. Since coming out, Gordon’s relationship with his team has changed significantly. A recent profile by Outsports illustrates the transformation of his relationship with his teammates from one in which they made snide remarks and avoided showering with him when they suspected him of being gay to one in which they now ask him about his dating life and treat him just like any other teammate. Gordon’s story illustrates the impact coming out can have on transforming a homophobic atmosphere into one of acceptance and inclusion.
We need only reach back into our ancient Jewish texts to know that throughout our history, it is the youth that carry hope for a promising future: “Your old shall dream dreams, and your youth shall see visions” (Joel 3:1) This February the RAC hopes to translate those visions into action at the Social Justice Advocacy Seminar at 2015 NFTY Convention in Atlanta.
The greatest social change in modern Jewish history was brought about by the youth–the creation of the State of Israel. Zionist youth movements made aliyah in droves in the 1920s to realize a dream of progress, hope and justice. These young pioneers built the infrastructure of the country: they drained the swamps, built the kibbutzim and created the Haganah and Palmach.
By Debbie Rabinovich
This week marks a major milestone for me: I am turning 18. The Big One-Eight. I love the number 18. The number 18 means that I get to vote. I can donate blood. I can go on Birthright. In Hebrew, the number 18 is the gematria for the word chai, or life.
One thing I like to do on birthdays is look up the date to see what else happened on that day in history. On my own birthday, September 13th, plenty of bad things happened. The first fatal automobile accident. The death of critically acclaimed rap artist Tupac Shakur. However, one really good thing happened: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed. VAWA is just a little bit older than me; in fact, the Act reaches a major milestone this week as well: its 20th anniversary. I am lucky to have lived my whole life in a world where our government recognizes that domestic violence is a moral abhorrence all too prevalent in our society.