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Matisyahu Festival Ban Reversed After Outcry

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 11:30
A Spanish reggae festival, bowing to an international outcry, on Wednesday reversed its decision to cancel an invitation to an American Jewish musician because he had failed to spell out his views on Palestinian statehood.

The Call to Californians: Act to End Racial Injustice

Wed, 08/19/2015 - 11:00

By Rabbi Paul Kipnes

When the call came to drop everything and fly cross-country to highlight the racial injustice that still exists in America, nearly 200 Reform rabbis answered.  We put personal and work lives on hold to retrace the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery and beyond.

Now we rabbis ask all Californians to drop everything for 5 minutes between August 24th and 28th to contact your state senators to eradicate racial injustice. Suggested talking points and email/phone contact information are at http://action.rac.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=21143.

Will you answer the call and make your call?

Dropping Everything

I and other Reform Rabbis each carried the Torah scroll on part of the NAACP’s 40-day Journey for Justice. We responded to Jewish tradition: “A person should use his/her face, hands, and feet only to honor the Creator” (Tosefta Brachot 4:1).

Walking with my daughter Rachel, I opened myself to the experiences of fellow marchers; with my eyes and ears, I looked and listened. I learned from them about the dangerous reality of being a person of color in America. It horrified me.

While in God’s eyes we are all btzelem Elohim (equally in God’s image) on the inside, so many Americans are mistreated on the basis of their skin color on the outside. Yet without hard proof, I realize, many Americans will still doubt this truth.

Seeking a Clearer Picture

I urge my fellow Californians to support two state fair policing bills.  AB 953 (racial and identity profiling) require police officers to report basic information about all stops they make.  AB 71 (police use of force) requires police officers to report on any use of force resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

The police departments of Oakland and San Jose and the CA Highway Patrol already collect and report this data voluntarily. The San Diego police department discovered that Blacks were searched three times as much twice as much as white were searched. However, the Blacks and Hispanics searched were found less likely to have engaged in criminal activity.

Reform CA’s B’yachad (“In It Together”) Campaign supports AB 953 and AB 71 because as Jews we cannot live with dignity when other Californians, particularly people of color, are not afforded the same dignity.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes is spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA.

The post The Call to Californians: Act to End Racial Injustice appeared first on Fresh Updates from RAC.

It’s Time to Embrace a Post-Modern Approach to Orthodoxy

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 14:07
Rabbi Mordechai Willig derisively writes that an evolving viewpoint on the place for women and gays in Jewish life are manifestations of post-modernism. David Weitzner explains why in actuality these views are the authentic Judaism.

Why We’re Marching: America’s Journey for Justice

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 12:30

When the NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice began in Selma, AL, on August 1, the Reform Movement was there as a partner and ally.

This historic 860-mile march in which nearly 200 Reform rabbis and activists are participating, will culminate in Washington, D.C. on September 16. Throughout, the marchers are demonstrating to our nation’s leaders that Americans from a diverse array of faiths and backgrounds share a commitment to racial justice, and that it is past time for passage of legislation that will help bring the United States closer to its founding ideals of equality for all.

Over the course of the Journey, rabbis are carrying a Torah scroll, transferring responsibility for its care each day. The experience harkens back to our earliest days as a people, wandering in the desert with the mishkan in our midst. Although our Exodus from Egypt was long ago, we are still marching toward the Promised Land – one in which justice and opportunity are a reality for all Americans. After all, this year as our nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, we know that for far too many people, that promise remains unfulfilled.

This Journey for Justice is a moment for our entire Movement to rededicate itself to the struggle for racial justice.

Our traditions as Jews and as Americans tell us not to stand idly by when our neighbors’ blood is shed, nor when equal opportunities in education and employment are denied, nor when our brothers and sisters struggle to overcome generations of discrimination. So, as the Journey for Justice mobilizes activists around a vision that seeks uncorrupted access to the ballot box for every eligible American, a justice system rooted in principles that apply to all equally, a reality in which individuals can earn a living wage that supports their families, and equitable public education opportunities for all children, we are inspired to be present.

The Journey for Justice also reflects the Reform Movement’s historic and ongoing partnership with the NAACP. I write this message from my office on Kivie Kaplan Way, named for the former Jewish president of the NAACP – and former URJ board member – who endowed this building to stand as a hub of Jewish social justice – not just in his time, but also in ours and for generations to come. We honor our Movement’s legacy of involvement in the civil rights movement not merely by remembering it and by teaching it to our children, but by making the struggle our own.

We encourage you bring the spirit of the Journey for Justice to your community; take this opportunity to connect with others in your neighborhood, to strengthen your relationship with a local black church or to reach out and spark a new connection. While we hope you can join in the march itself, you can also participate from your congregation and community through coordinated opportunities:

When we join with our neighbors of different faiths, races, experiences, and identities, we strengthen the bonds of humanity and reiterate the call for justice not just for some, but for all.

The post Why We’re Marching: America’s Journey for Justice appeared first on Fresh Updates from RAC.

Jewish Spiritual Leader's Institute ordains 9th Class of Rabbis

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 02:48

Jewish Spiritual Leader's Institute (JSLI) , the Online Rabbinical School of Sim Shalom, held its ordination ceremony in Delray Beach, Florida. Ten new rabbis will now begin their respective...

(PRWeb July 15, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/07/prweb12841194.htm

Another San Antonio Synagogue Defaced With Swastikas

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 21:58
A San Antonio synagogue was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti less than a week after another city synagogue and its neighborhood were similarly attacked.

340 Rabbis Back Iran Deal in Letter to Congress

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 14:10
In a letter to Congress, 340 U.S. rabbis from the major streams of Judaism expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal.

An Open Letter to Rabbi Mordechai Willig

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 13:45
An Open Letter to Rabbi Mordechai Willig on women’s study of Talmud.

Matisyahu Cancellation Sparks Protests From Jews

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 13:00
Jewish groups protested on Monday after a Spanish reggae festival canceled a concert by an American Jewish musician when he failed to reply to a demand to clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.

'Sauna Rabbi' Jonathan Rosenblatt To Keep Riverdale Pulpit

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 11:12
The Riverdale Jewish Center has decided to keep in place Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, whose sauna chats with naked boys garnered headlines after an expose in The New York Times in late May.

Italy’s First Woman Rabbi Searches Out Calabria’s Hidden Jews

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 10:50
Barbara Aiello never planned on being the poster-woman for Italian liberal Judaism but as the country’s first female and first non-Orthodox rabbi she is making waves.

Matisyahu Gig Cancelled: BDS Shows its True, Ugly Face

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 05:20
JewTube reports: Matisyahu was set to perform at the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival in Spain when something odd happened. Apparently, the event director, Filippo Giunta, asked the Jewish singer on Thursday to issue a “signing statement or video” that expressed in a “very clear” way that Palestinians are entitled to their own state. This was […]

Could Something Other Than Mohels Be Giving Herpes in Circumcisions?

Mon, 08/17/2015 - 05:00
A new study claims that rabbis performing a controversial circumcision rite are not solely to blame for herpes infections in infants. But if mohels are not the source, then what is?

How Poetry, Prison and a Holocaust Book Are Changing Ex-Offenders’ Lives

Sun, 08/16/2015 - 12:00
Former Broadway producer David Rothenberg founded The Fortune Society to give ex-offenders a voice. Through music, acting and writing, the formerly incarcerated can let their creative juices flow.

Matisyahu Ousted from Spanish Festival for Not Endorsing Palestinian State

Sun, 08/16/2015 - 08:46
Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu was disinvited from a Spanish music festival because he would not publicly endorse Palestinian statehood.

When a Rabbi Was the Last Thing I Needed

Sun, 08/16/2015 - 05:00
When she was 19, Alexandra Levine experienced the tragedy of seeing her friend killed by a drunk driver. Six years later, she still relives the horror and still wonders why anyone thought a rabbi could help her.

Orthodox Conversion Rebels Challenge Rabbinate on Marriage

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 06:40
In the latest challenge to Israel’s supreme religious authority, several Orthodox rabbis have begun to perform weddings for converts who are not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.

Lithuania Chief Rabbi Fired in Cemetery Construction Flap

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:02
The Jewish community of Lithuania fired the country’s chief rabbis amid his objections to the the government’s plan to build on an area the used to be a cemetery.

Ex-N.Y. City Chancellor To Lead East Ramapo Schools Panel

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:07
The New York State Education Department appointed a panel to study the operations of the haredi Orthodox-controlled school board in the East Ramapo school district.

Chief Rabbi Declares War on Orthodox Conversion Rebels

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 07:15
Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi accused the founders of a private conversion court of “fighting against the Torah.”