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New from CCAR Press, The Social Justice Torah Commentary demonstrates that the Torah is a guide to addressing the most urgent challenges of our time. This excerpt is from Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center and Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism.
On the eve of my retirement from the Union for Reform Judaism, I'd like to share a few reminiscences and reflections.
Amy Spitalnick is the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA), the civil rights nonprofit behind Sines v. Kessler - the successful federal lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. I sat down with Amy, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, to get her views on the significance of this lawsuit.
"Becoming Dr. Ruth" carefully and quite literally unpacks the turbulent early years of Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- Holocaust survivor, single mother, and eventual superstar sex therapist. At the same time, this one-woman show starring Tovah Feldshuh celebrates the possibilities of America, while never quite letting go of the past.
We are in a time of great crisis, facing pandemics of systemic racism, poverty, climate change, voter suppression and COVID-19. Millions of Americans experience unemployment, hunger, and housing insecurity, facing the threat of climate change daily. People of Color and other marginalized communities experience the most adverse consequences. And the country continues to face endless attacks on our voting rights and reproductive rights. Before Congress breaks for their winter recess, there is much left to be done.
New Year's Day and the traditional resolutions that accompany it invite us to take stock of our lives. Are we living our lives to the fullest? Can we imagine a future in which the commitments we make for ourselves (e.g., healthier habits around eating and exercise) actually come true? What will it take this year to really change?
There are a lot of creative ways to make Hanukkah meaningful when we pause to ask ourselves a few good questions before automatically going into shopping mode.
As we head into the holiday season, I am acutely aware of how much different this year is going to be than previous ones. I will be celebrating without my mom for the first time. My mother died in January 2021, and I'm still dealing with the unexpected waves of grief that wash over me, sometimes out of nowhere. As I head into this first winter holiday season without her, I'm not quite sure I know what to expect, other than everything is going to be very different.
After services one Friday night, I was approached by a woman and child I had not seen before. The woman knew I was a rabbinical student, and said she had an important question to ask me. Then, slowly, trying to find the right words, she said, “Let’s say there was someone who was born female but realized they were male—a female to male transgender person. Would that person be able to have a bar mitzvah? Is that something Judaism would allow?”