Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), recently attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles, California, the world's first LGBTQ+ congregation. This is a excerpt taken from his remarks at the event.
Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa, and other recent incidents of gun violence highlight the fact that the U.S. has been locked in a cycle of apathetic “thoughts and prayers,” while little federal action has been taken on this public safety and public health issue. We must end the helpless, apathetic cycle of “thoughts and prayers.” Enough is enough. To stand idly by and do nothing in the face of such senseless slaughter is unconscionable and antithetical to our Jewish values and beliefs. To paraphrase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will pray with our marching feet and voices.
As Shavuot approaches and we celebrate the Giving of the Torah, I have been spending some time reflecting on some of my favorite teachings from Jewish sacred literature, both those that resonate with me, and those that feel most important or most timely.
I first inquired about becoming a soferet in my first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem. I had come into rabbinical school with the technical expertise of a printmaker and a bookmaker, and I was eager to immerse myself in all things Torah, including its physical creation. Unfortunately, even in 2008, I could not find a sofer in Jerusalem who would train a woman.
As a young woman, I am frightened by the recent draft Supreme Court opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade. This opinion would abolish 50 years of court precedent that protects our fundamental right to privacy. I am shaken that my ability to make private medical decisions could soon be policed by people who will never experience the circumstances surrounding those decisions.
I read a quote today by Sy Smith that said, "Black people in the U.S. are expected to keep on keeping on, no matter what..."
In this season, time is immutable. It can be questioned, but not changed. Family can be understood, but not altered. The self, in this case, the result of intergenerational trauma, must be accepted. In Russian Doll, the only way to see the good in the world is to stop looking back, to stop journeying inward, and to the wake up in the present.
Amy Albertson (she/her), 30, is a Chinese Jewish advocate and online educator living in Northern California. She works as a social media consultant for Jewish organizations.
On June 3, 1972, Rabbi Sally Priesand was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as the first woman rabbi in North America. To celebrate this milestone in Jewish and American history, HUC's Dr. Bernard Heller Museum in New York partnered with The Braid's Story Archive of Women Rabbis in Los Angeles to create the exhibition "Holy Sparks," presenting 24 ground-breaking women rabbis who were "firsts" in their time.
Yom HaShoah is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day and occurs on the 27 th of the month of Nisan. It is a day to commemorate those who perished during the Holocaust and listen to survivors tell their stories. However, as the survivor population ages, many are needing more assistance.