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Transgender Awareness Week is a chance to educate the public. It is important for people who are not part of the trans community to understand the oppression transgender and gender-expansive people face every day. While it is always important to affirm trans identities, Transgender Awareness Week provides an opportunity to center the voices of trans and gender-expansive people.
Last Saturday, amid what should have been a peaceful Shabbat, our global Jewish family watched in horror as news emerged that members of Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Texas, were being held hostage by an armed gunman. After an 11-hour standoff, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and profound gratitude upon learning that all four hostages, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, were finally free.
This is a prayer of healing for the hostages freed from Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, Texas, as well as the congregation and the community.
On Tu Bishvat we celebrated trees and a season of new growth. I've been doing lots of thinking about trees, as I frequently do, and the role they play in providing oxygen for the planet. At the Union of Reform Judaism, we provide oxygen to our communities by creating compassionate spaces for our participants to grow and thrive. We can respond to current and future challenges by fostering resilience that reflect our Jewish values.
Last Saturday, January 22nd, marked the 49th anniversary of the US Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The Roe decision was revolutionary, as it protected a pregnant person's right to have an abortion, without excessive government restrictions. Now, we face a grim reality that Roe may not reach its 50 th anniversary. This spring, the Court will deliver its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case that could functionally overturn Roe. If this happens, almost half the states in the US are poised to ban abortion entirely.
The Union for Reform Judaism makes it easy for all member congregations to have a website. RJ Web Builder 3.0, a WordPress-based platform, lets you and your congregation develop and maintain a free professional website. Here's what some of our webmasters had to say about their experiences.
Yesterday was a difficult day for all of us across the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). We were forced to confront hard truths about the pain that too many in our communities have experienced. Yet confronting these truths is part of the practice of cheshbon hanefesh, the practice of being spiritually and morally accountable.
Supporting newcomers to Judaism and helping them find belonging is one of Rabbi Marina Yergin's greatest joys in her work at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas where she has served since 2015. Known affectionately to her students as the "Resource Queen," Rabbi Yergin designed a dynamic Introduction to Judaism program where each spring, students learned "Stepping Stones to Basic Jewish Knowledge" followed in the fall by "Choosing Judaism," a discussion-based class geared specifically for those working to become Jewish.
Today, the anniversary of Rosa Parks’s birthday, is the ideal time to revisit her life and legacy for the inspiration and wisdom they provide. Many Americans remember Rosa Parks as the tired seamstress who refused to move to the back of a bus, but Rosa Parks is much more than that story: though she did not identify as Jewish, her life reflected a commitment that we might identify as tikkun olam – repairing what is broken in our world. Here are three key insights from Rosa Parks’ life we can bear in mind as Black History Month begins.
A few years ago, when my son was still pretty young, we were heading out to participate in Friday night services for families with young children. When he asked where we were heading, I said, "We're going to Temple Micah." We weren't going to the building on Wisconsin Avenue that is Temple Micah, we were heading to a local coffee shop and bookstore where services were being held. But to me, that was Temple Micah. The people we would see, the feeling we would get by being together - all of that was Temple Micah - not the temple building itself.