Tag Archives: Religious Freedom
Seder Plate

Freedom to Wander, Freedom to Believe: Religious Freedom on Passover

It is probably a safe assumption that Passover is most likely to be associated with freedom. As we move through the Seder, we reflect on our ancestors’ fight for freedom and those around the world today who are not free.

What is interesting to me, though, is that the Torah is not translated for the words “freedom” or “free.” Moses does not go before Pharaoh and ask for freedom, rather he asks for his people to be let go. And, I think this is a subtle and important distinction. There is something particular about being released from oppression, compared to assuming the rights to live according to your own beliefs and views. They are hopefully complementary actions.

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drawing oral argument

From Oral Arguments Onwards: Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood

This blog post is adapted from an Advocacy Update sent by Women of Reform Judaism on March 27, 2014. For more information about the background of these cases, check out this blog post.

Following oral argument on Tuesday morning in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, eyes are now turning to the end of June when the Supreme Court is likely to issue its ruling. Although much of the deliberating and deciding goes on behind closed doors, oral argument is an important opportunity to gauge what the justices are considering when looking at the case.

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Exterior Supreme Court

Reform Leaders Weigh in on Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Cases

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Corp. v. Sebelius. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Steve Fox, CEO of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism jointly released a statement, noting that:

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International Religious Freedom: Learning from Esther

Hamentaschen, costumes and mishloach manot, oh my!  We are just a few days away from celebrating the holiday of Purim, which means gathering in our synagogues for Purim schpiels and carnivals.  Purim is a fun holiday for kids and grown-ups alike, and connects to many of the social justice themes we care about as Reform Jews, including the death penalty, women’s rights and anti-Semitism.  Another social justice value that is ever-present in the story of Purim is the importance of religious freedom. Read more…

Protecting Refugees: Renewing the Lautenberg Amendment

As the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill makes its way through Congress, with passage expected this week, there are a number of priorities we are following closely here at the RAC. Among these, we are pleased that the bill includes a retroactive one-year extension of the Lautenberg Amendment, which expired on September 30. The Lautenberg Amendment, first passed into law in 1990 after being introduced by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), has long been a major priority of the Jewish community and refugee resettlement organizations.

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Reform Rabbis in Israel Receive State Salaries for First Time

In response to the Israeli government’s fulfillment of its court-ordered obligation to pay the salaries of four non-Orthodox communal rabbis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: 

Tuesday’s announcement that four non-Orthodox communal rabbis have received state-paid salaries represents a major step forward for religious pluralism in Israel.  Although we continue to believe that the goal of full and equal recognition of non-Orthodox Jewry and their rabbis must be fulfilled as soon as possible, we welcome the long-overdue state compensation for Rabbis Miri Gold of the Gezer Regional Council, Stacey Blank of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gadi Raviv of the Misgav Regional Council, and Benji Gruber of Hevel Eliot Regional Council.  While the state continues to fund religious services, including rabbis’ salaries, this funding must be provided on an equal basis for all denominations. Read more…

Exterior Supreme Court

Reproductive Rights in 2013, What to Look Out for in 2014

2013 was a busy year for reproductive rights advocates: between a 20-week ban passing the House of Representatives, the same law being introduced into the Senate, some successful attempts to pass restrictive state and local laws and numerous developments around the contraception mandate and the Affordable Care Act, there has hardly been a moment to rest.

There is no question that 2014 will be another milestone year because of two cases before the United States Supreme Court: McCullen v. Coakley and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga v. Sebelius (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga will be combined into one case when oral argument is heard in March).

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Orthotricyclen pill pack

New Year Brings Expiration of Contraception Mandate Safe Harbor

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is probably best known for two things at this juncture: the website and the so-called “contraception cases.” In between the enrollment push and the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases at the Supreme Court, it can be easy to forget about the other moving parts. At the beginning of the new year, a significant component of the contraception mandate will take effect, ending what is called the “safe harbor.”

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