Tag Archives: Voting Rights

Voting Matters, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall

The first election that I can remember, I was four years old and I was accompanying my dad to go vote for our state representative and for our member of Congress. He brought me into the voting booth and I helped him pull down the levers as together we voted for who would represent our district. It all came full circle when I went to the city hall in Newton, Massachusetts to register to vote as soon as I turned 18, when I led voter registration efforts in college or when my dad and I went to my former elementary school to vote this past November. Through voting, I could be actively engaged in the political process and participate in the most basic right (and rite!) of democracy.

Read more…

What if D.C. had Taxation with Representation?

This weekend, Americans across the country will celebrate Independence Day. We celebrate the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring their freedom from Great Britain. One of the primary complaints of the American colonists was that they were subject to “taxation without representation;” the colonists had to pay taxes imposed on them by the British government, but had no representation in government to advocate for the colonies. If this phrase is familiar to you outside of American history class, it is because it is the featured slogan on all licenses plates in the District of Columbia.

The nearly 659,000 people who live in the capital, Washington, D.C., do not have representation in Congress, but pay taxes (and are subject to all other federal laws). There is no one representing the District in the Senate, and the House of Representatives has one D.C. member non-voting delegate (Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton).

Read more…

A Rabbi’s Reflections from Roanoke

On Thursday, June 25, I traveled to Roanoke, Virginia with Legislative Assistant Claire Shimberg and other voting rights advocates from the DC metropolitan area. There, we joined with hundreds of concerned Americans to mark the 2 year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and left voters vulnerable to discrimination. Together, we rallied for voting rights and urged Congress, especially House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, to hold a hearing and restore voting rights for all. Read more…

Carrying On the Social Justice Torch for Voting Rights

51 years ago, on June 21, 1964, civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner were abducted in Neshoba County, Mississippi and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner had been in Mississippi preparing and registering African Americans to vote as part of Freedom Summer. The three men were executed on the side of a dark road in Mississippi, and it took 44 days for their bodies to be found. Their deaths fueled support of the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an Act that we are trying to strengthen and support again today.

Read more…

Still Fighting for Voting Rights 50 Years After the Voting Rights Act

The right to vote is the cornerstone of American democracy and our most basic civil right. As Reform Jews and American citizens who care about a variety of social justice issues, we must recognize that all of these issues are inextricably linked to the right to vote. This year is an especially important year to talk about voting rights: this past March marked 50 years since the voting rights marches in Selma, AL and this coming August will mark 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Read more…

Passover in Hebrew, matzah, kiddush cup

The Other March Madness

Whether you observe Passover according to the strict rules of Jewish law, or you attend one family Seder, or whether your Passover observance is watching The Prince of Egypt, or whatever traditions, practices or customs you find meaningful, the weeks leading up to Passover (April 3-11, 2015) feel like a Jewish March Madness. Between planning Seders, cleaning your house of chametz or mentally preparing yourself for a week of matzah, there’s a lot to get done and it always feels like not enough time. Read more…

Reforming All Aspects of Our Voting System

The right to vote is fundamental to American democracy and has been a key part of the Religious Action Center’s work since our founding in 1961. As you may know, the RAC and Reform Jews have a proud legacy of support for the Civil Rights Movement and portions of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were even drafted right in our conference room! It is for this reason that we were so disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder in June 2013, which invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act and eliminated crucial protections for voters. In the wake of Shelby, we have pushed for a Congressional fix through the Voting Rights Amendment Act, but we know that there are many aspects of our voting system that needs reform. Read more…

Bobby Harris and Sophie in Selma

Reflections from a Father-Daughter Trip to Selma

By Bobby and Sophie Harris

My daughter Sophie and I drove from our home in Marietta, GA to participate in the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. We attended a pre-march program at Temple Mishkan Israel—Selma’s only synagogue. Though the synagogue has less than 10 remaining members, the sanctuary was full that morning. Sophie was one of just a handful of youth who attended the service. Below are our reflections from the day: Read more…

<