On April 26-28, hundreds of Reform Jews will gather in Washington, D.C. for the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience, the Reform Movement’s flagship social justice event. This year’s Consultation will feature Former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, among many other luminaries. Tune in to the live stream of Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner’s installation as Director of the RAC at 10:15 a.m on Monday morning to hear Gov. Patrick’s remarks.
As Governor of Massachusetts (2006-2014), Gov. Patrick supported funding for public education at a record high for the Commonwealth and oversaw affordable health care’s expansion to over 98% of Massachusetts residents. Last year, Gov. Patrick signed legislation to raise the Commonwealth’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017, which was at a time the highest in the country. Gov. Patrick led Massachusetts’ economy to a 25 year high in employment, despite the recession (2007-2009). He was also the first African-American to serve as Massachusetts’ Governor.
Gov. Patrick’s work complements our commitment to combatting economic inequality at the RAC. We advocate for much-need change and for reforms to fight inequality, such as a higher minimum wage, paid sick days for all Americans, and for important tax credits that help our most vulnerable. We also fight for all to have access to ample, nutritious foods and ensure that all Americans have a safe place to call home.
Our Jewish tradition is explicit in commanding that we advocate for programs that lift up our most vulnerable. Jewish history also provides us with an example for helping the needy. During Talmudic times, much of tzedakah (justice) was done though tax-financed, community-run programs that helped those in needed, paralleling the social safety net that we continue to fight for today. Our Jewish tradition calls on us to “speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor, and the needy” (Proverbs 31:9), and we must fulfill our obligation to engage in issues of economic justice. We have a responsibility to address these issues, and at the Consultation we will have the opportunity to delve deeper into these topics.
Be sure to tune in for the livestream at youtube.com/racrj, and learn more about the Consultation on Conscience here.
Union For Reform Judaism Announces Partnerships To Publish Torah Commentaries, Study Materials, Religious School Curricula And More
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The past few months have been eventful for Israelis and those who care about Israel, in more ways than one. At Consultation on Conscience (April 26-28), there will be an opportunity to discuss current issues in Israel on Monday evening at 7:15 PM. The event will feature Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and Rabbi Noa Sattath, Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). Tune in for the livestream at youtube.com/racrj.
Within Israel, a focus for millions of Israelis was the new elections for Knesset (Israel’s parliament), which occurred in March. The country held elections after the previous governing coalition, which had been in office for less than two years, dissolved and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for new elections. After a close election campaign that pitted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, against the center-left Zionist Camp, Prime Minister Netanyahu won a convincing victory and is in talks with other parties to form a coalition.
Outside of Israel, there’s an important election that’s still going on: the World Zionist Congress elections. ARZA, the Zionist wing of the Reform Movement, has put together a slate of Reform Movement leaders that are gearing up to fight for civil rights, religious pluralism and peace. Having ARZA do well in the World Zionist Congress elections gives ARZA influence and funding power over the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund and other vitally important agencies and organizations in Israel and around the world. Voting is open until April 30th, so go vote!
Israel and the United States have also been working to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. After a year and a half of negotiations, the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) and Iran agreed to a framework deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Reform Movement leaders have expressed reservations about conditions in the agreement, while still supporting diplomacy as the best alternative to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Amidst these global-scale events, we’ve also been monitoring a continued string of tensions in Jerusalem and attacks targeting women and non-Jews. Of note, there has been a continuing legal battle over flights by Israeli airline El Al, which have sometimes been delayed due to ultra-Orthodox men demanding that the women who are sitting next to them move seats.
Join us at the Consultation or by livestream to learn more about Israeli affairs.
Celebrity Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto pleaded guilty in a Tel Aviv court to charges of bribery as part of a plea deal.Click here for the rest of the article...
No one was injured when shots were fired outside a Nashville synagogue.Click here for the rest of the article...
This week, we mark Yom HaShoah (April 15-16) — Holocaust Remembrance Day — a day when Jewish communities gather together to commemorate the day through worship, music and stories from survivors and lighting yellow candles as symbol of the living memories of the victims. Yom HaShoah is a time to remember and reflect. It is also a time to also recommitment ourselves to fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism. And, for me, Yom HaShoah is a time to think about the notion of Jewish peoplehood.
Roughly six years ago, when I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to travel to Poland with my synagogue. We had a sort of exchange program going: each year, Jewish students from Eastern Europe would come to Tampa and spend the week touring the city and interacting with our Jewish community and then, months later, a group of students from our temple youth group would travel to Poland and the once-exchange students would share their city and their community with us.
The trip was everything you might expect it to be — heartbreaking, moving, thoughtful, meaningful, inspiring, and even, at times, fun. I remember how surprised I was when we first arrived at Auschwitz. Every picture or video I had ever seen from the Holocaust was in black and white, and as I stood at the camps and saw the green grass and red brick buildings, I was taken aback. While intellectually I knew that life does not happen in black and white, I think I assumed the Holocaust had happened in black and white as a way to distance myself from this heinous, terrifying time in history. Seeing the camps in full color forced me to see the humanity (or lack thereof) and reality of this tragedy. It reminded me that the six million Jews and five million non-Jews killed during the Holocaust are not just one number, but 11 million individual human beings who each had a life and a family and each of their individual lives taken from them.
I remember walking through the camps with our Jewish, Eastern European friends thinking, “They [the Nazis] didn’t win.” Even though so many millions of people were killed, the fact that young Jewish teenagers from across the world were walking through concentration camps together as free people meant that the Nazis had lost. They did not extinguish the Jewish people, as the flames of the yahrzeit candles we light remind us.
This year, my reflections on Yom HaShoah have new meaning – I am working for and in the Jewish community to make the world more just. In this work, and in thinking about and mourning the Holocaust, the profound realization I had when walking through Auschwitz stays with me: Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel live.
Iran and Israel have been cooperating under the auspices of an international body set up to monitor a ban on nuclear bomb tests, its director said on Monday.Click here for the rest of the article...
Join us Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 6:30-8:30 pm at The Koubek Center at Miami Dade College for a panel discussion on immigration reform with Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, Deputy-Managing Director of...
(PRWeb March 13, 2015)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/03/prweb12578376.htm
The Jewish Spiritual Leaders’ Institute (JSLI) Online Rabbinical School has matriculated its 10th class of rabbinical students. These students will receive their semicha, or certificate of ordination,...
(PRWeb March 11, 2015)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/03/prweb12564895.htm
By Shira and friend of the RAC, Ronit Zemel, incoming Assistant Director of Harlam Day Camp
In the front hallway of our home growing up was a picture of our great grandfather, Rabbi Solomon Goldman, standing next to Chaim Weizmann at one of the gatherings of the World Zionist Congress in the late 1930s. This picture is a hallmark of our upbringing as liberal Zionist Jews. We heard lore of our grandmother’s grade school education at the Riali school in Haifa. Our dad told us stories of his first time in Israel as a thirteen year old, peering out into the still forbidden Old City from a lookout tower in Jerusalem. Then we had the opportunity to see Israel for ourselves; to see the vibrant Jewish life in cafes and the shuk, on buses and in kibbutz fields. Israel is a part of the fabric of our family.
Our father tells stories about singing songs of the yeshuv in his Jewish day school when he was growing up. As children, each summer at Camp Harlam we would sing the same songs and look forward to befriending our Israeli counselors. Through family trips to Israel, NFTY EIE, a gap year for Ronit spent in Tel Aviv, and conversations around our family dinner table, we have learned to push, scrutinize and consider our complex relationship with Israel.
Is it enough to feel that Israel is a homeland, or must we actively support Israel as a modern Jewish State? And as Americans, where does our fundamental belief in democracy factor in to our attitudes? As Reform Zionists, we consider these questions and more, so that we can love Israel as sincerely as possible: when we were young we sang songs and ate chocolate and learned to love the land, and as we grew older we were taught to look honestly at the land we had grown to love.
During this WZO election season, we are reminded of Herzl’s famous words: Im Tirzu Ein Zo Aggadah– if you will it, it is no dream. It was the will of our founding Zionist forefathers to build a state of our own upon Jewish and democratic values. We have fallen in love with their dream– the modern, thriving Jewish state of Israel. But the dream is far from complete. We play a part as Israel’s story continues to unfold. This is why we are on the ARZA slate and encourage everyone to vote for ARZA in the World Zionist Congress elections: A vote for ARZA is a vote for our shared dream of a pluralistic, egalitarian and democratic Israel– it’s a vote for a progressive Zionism of which we can be proud.
Vote now! www.reformjews4israel.org/