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.
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…
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).
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.”
When I was in second grade, a classmate’s mother handmade Christmas stockings for every student and hung them on shelves near our desks. There were two stockings too many to fit the shelf space, so they were put up against the wall on the other side of the room, disconnected from the rest of their brethren stockings. And in that little corner of the classroom, next those two lonely stockings, were three sad little Hanukkah bags. To add a level of irony, the school I went to was the American School in Japan. In a country where American Christians are in the minority, it was considered acceptable to sideline my religion.
Early last week, a small bicameral and bipartisan working group announced a deal on a new National Defense Authorization Act. The latest bill replaces both the version of the NDAA passed by House passed earlier this year and the NDAA that the Senate was considering before Thanksgiving.
When I was little, my sister and I would ask our rabbi why Hanukkah was so late (or so early, depending on when the holiday fell!) and he would answer us by saying, “It’s not late—Hanukkah is always on the 25th of Kislev!” We would laugh at his answer, but after many years of hearing the same response, we had gained an understanding of how the Jewish calendar works. This year, Hanukkah comes especially early on the Gregorian calendar and coincides with Thanksgiving. Read more…
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was shot and killed while driving through Dallas, Texas in a convertible. President Kennedy was the youngest man elected president, and also the youngest president to die. He is remembered by the American public for many things: being a young, charismatic leader who sought to engage young people, as the first Catholic president, for his marriage to Jackie Kennedy, and his involvement and leadership in the Cold War. As we look back on this loss, we should also remember him for his relationship with the Jewish community in America. Read more…