Tag Archives: Reform Jewish Voice of New York State

Reform Jewish Teens Take Albany by Storm

Originally posted by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

“We understand that hunger is a huge issue that cannot be fixed easily. It is a multi-faceted problem and millions of Americans across the country struggle with every day. That is why we want to start small, and advocate for immediate change in New York.”—A NFTY-NAR teen advocating for anti-hunger programs.

Not enough people take the time to engage in the political process—but on Tuesday, the halls of the Legislative Office Building in Albany were teeming with students, parents, union members, lobbyists and over 40 teens from NFTY-NAR.

Tuesday is typically the busiest day of the week down at the State Capitol, but this day happened to be particularly eventful with two massive movements of education advocates converging to rally around charter schools and universal pre-k.

As part of Albany Advocacy Day, the NFTY-NAR teens were right in the middle of the action. After an intensive (and fun!) day of programming over the weekend on four crucial policy issues facing New York, a conversation with NYC Councilman Brad Lander (who is himself a former NFTY North American Social Action Vice President!) and a few hours of hard work writing lobby speeches, the teens entered the Capitol ready to meet with their legislators. Check out photos from the day here (more to come!). Read more…


RJV Responds to State of the State

This post originally appeared on Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

Albany, N.Y., January 9, 2014: In response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address on January 8, 2014, RJV Co-Chairs Barbara Zaron and Jennifer Jaech issued the following statement:

Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV), the Reform Movement’s social justice advocate in New York, sees the Governor’s State of the State message as a mixed bag.

On the positive side, we enthusiastically supported enactment of marriage equality and the minimum wage measures that the Governor spearheaded. We lauded the Governor’s continued commitment to the entire 10 point Women’s Equality Agenda and to Campaign Finance and Ethics Reform, two priority issues on our advocacy agenda going forward.  We are members of the Women’s Equality and the Fair Elections coalitions to advocate for such legislation. Read more…

Workers protesting low wages with a sign saying "Hard work deserves fair pay!"

13 States Raised Their Minimum Wage: Is Yours One of Them?

The minimum wage is one of the strongest worker protections in the United States–but in recent decades it has lagged behind the cost of living, losing effectiveness. Thankfully, there is a bright spot on the horizon, as renewed momentum builds in support of raising both the federal minimum wage and the minimum wage in each state. On January 1st, 13 states across the country raised their minimum wage, giving a raise to 2.5 million Americans. Four states passed new laws that went into effect on January 1st and nine raised the minimum wage to adjust it according to increases in living costs: Read more…


Take a Bite Out of Hunger

On Rosh Hashanah, we say Shana tovah u’metukah (a good and sweet new year). And while we are nearly four months into 5774, we are only seven days into 2014 and it’s not shaping up to be a good or sweet year for millions of Americans. Congress has yet to extend unemployment insurance for those desperately seeking work, the House and Senate are locked in an appropriations battle to keep the government open past next Wednesday and the Farm Bill has languished for months.

And as Washington, D.C. scrambles to start working on their ever-growing to-do list, states are beginning their budget processes to fund hundreds of necessary programs ranging from education and environmental protection to housing and food assistance. The clock is ticking in New York State, where the budget must be passed by March 31st (if it is passed on time this year, it will be the fourth year in a row!) Read more…


NY Legislative Session Fizzles to a Close

It was an anti-climactic ending for this session in the New York State legislature; the Assembly passed an omnibus Women’s Equality Act (which, among other items, would have protected women’s access to reproductive health care services) but the Senate decided to take up the agenda as individual bills. New Yorkers were highly anticipating debate on fair elections reform based partly on a successful New York City model of public financing for campaigns, but that too was left on the cutting room floor.

So, which bills garnered a vote? What high profile issues got precious debate time? What did the legislature not take up or refuse to consider? Here is Reform Jewish Voice of New York State’s legislative session roundup: Read more…


New Yorkers: Call Now to Support Women’s Equality

New Yorkers, the time is now to lift up your voices together and call your state Senator and tell them that you support the New York Women’s Equality Act. Along with others across the state, tell the state Senate that you demand strengthened policies to support women as equal members of society as consistent with our American and Jewish values.

Dial 1-888-897-0174 or text “WEA” or “womensequality” to 877-877 to hear key points and automatically connect to your state Senator.

Today, women in New York face challenges that can prevent them from being contributing fully to society. Women are victims of wage discrimination in the workplace, face restricted access to reproductive health care services, endure family status and pregnancy discrimination and are more likely to be victims of human trafficking.

Call your state Senator and urge them to support the Women’s Equality Act that includes provisions to: Read more…


Sweeping Women’s Equality Agenda Introduced in NY

Governor Cuomo unveiled his Women’s Equality Agenda (officially titled the “Women’s Equality Act”) yesterday and urged the legislature to take up the proposal, which includes the 10 elements he identified as vital policy concerns for women during his State of the State this past January. One of the 10 was the contentious provision intended to change state law to allow abortions after 24 weeks to protect a women’s health.

This element of the legislation is the most controversial of the entire proposal–but the legislation is merely intended to align state law with federal law, which allows women to seek an abortion later in the pregnancy if her health or life is in danger. Currently, state law allows abortions after 24 weeks only if the woman’s life is at risk.

Other provisions of the bill include new efforts to guarantee that women are paid the same as men in the workplace, increased penalties for those convicted of human trafficking, and strengthened order-of-protection laws for victims of domestic violence. The legislation is all but assured to pass the Democratic-controlled Assembly but it faces a tough fight in the Senate, where power of the chamber is controlled by the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference.

Our religious voice is of vital importance as the legislature begins to consider one of the most inclusive proposals in recent memory intended to strengthen and protect women’s health and equality. The Reform Jewish Movement believes in women as capable, moral decision makers who are responsible for their own health and well being in the workplace and in society. Contact your state legislators today to urge them to stand up for the women of New York State by vocally supporting the Women’s Equality Agenda.

Read more about the Women’s Equality Agenda here.


An Empowering Day in Albany

Earlier this month, RJV hosted its annual Advocacy Day in Albany and with our voices raised as one, we spoke on behalf of New York State’s vibrant Reform Jewish community urging state legislators to support the Women’s Equality Agenda and implement fair election reform.  Our actions were noted by legislators, staff and the local press:

Just one day after RJV was meeting with legislators about the need for fair election reform, the state Assembly passed a public financing bill by a wide margin (88-50). The measure would implement a 6-to-1 public fund matching program similar to the one in New York City. The bill now proceeds to the Senate. If you are a New York resident, you can see how your member of the Assembly voted here and take a moment to send an email to your Senator urging them to support public funding of elections now!

All New Yorkers can also continue to take action on the Women’s Equality Agenda and encourage legislators to support the 10-point plan, especially the provisions intended to safeguard women’s reproductive health decisions and ensure pay equality.

Take a look at some of our pictures from the day and check out our new website here to learn more about RJV’s work on the Women’s Equality Agenda and fair elections.