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Updated: 58 min 38 sec ago

Berlin Philharmonic Names First Jewish Music Director

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 09:40
By naming Kirill Petrenko its next music director, the Berlin Philharmonic has made both a wise musical and political choice. Benjamin Irvy delves into the history of the young Jewish conductor.

David Ellenson Tapped To Run Brandeis Israel Center

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 07:03
Rabbi David Ellenson, the former president of the Reform movement’s seminary, has been tapped to lead Brandeis University’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.

Help Us Find The Best New Voices in Jewish Music

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 05:00
Who’s the next Shlomo Carlebach? Or Ofra Haza? Or Debbie Friedman? We’re looking for the best new voices in Jewish music. Do you or someone you know fit that description? Apply here!

Take Comprehensive Sex Ed and Family Planning off the Chopping Block

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 17:00

Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies voted to eliminate programs proven to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy, reduce abortion, and save tax dollars in fiscal year 2016. By gutting funding to family planning services for low-income individuals and undermining comprehensive sexuality education, the appropriations bill would leave millions of Americans without information and services to keep themselves safe and healthy.

The bill eliminates funding for Title X family planning centers, which have long enabled low-income individuals to access quality health care. This cut would leave 4.6 million Americans without affordable access to critical preventive health care, including family planning services, well-woman exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

Furthermore, the bill also slashes funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), which promotes medically accurate and age-appropriate programs that reduce teen pregnancy. In addition, the bill doubles funding for abstinence-only until marriage programs, incomplete “sex ed” curricula that leave teens without the necessary tools to keep themselves safe and healthy. Studies show that abstinence-only until marriage programs do not prevent teenagers from having sex—instead, they prevent them from having safe sex. Our nation’s young people must have access to scientifically-based, medically-accurate information in order to make informed choices about their health.

Comprehensive sexuality education equips people with the information they need to avoid unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other health problems, and it also provides models for healthy adult relationships. It relies on accurate scientific knowledge and research to provide students with the truth about the potential risks of sexual activity, all while teaching tools to reduce these risks and to promote safe, healthy behavior.

The guiding principle of sexuality in the Jewish tradition is K’doshim tih’yu, “You shall be holy” (Leviticus 19:2). Providing young adults with accurate and comprehensive information allows them to make informed decisions about their health and helps them maintain respect for themselves and their bodies.

The appropriations bill is scheduled move forward to the full House Appropriations Committee next week. Contact your Representative today to urge him or her to protect robust funding for comprehensive sex education and family planning services!


The post Take Comprehensive Sex Ed and Family Planning off the Chopping Block appeared first on Fresh Updates from RAC.

Abe Foxman, 'Anti Discrimination First Responder,' Honored at ADL Gala

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 14:55
If you were among the 1,200 guests in reach of Abe Foxman at the June 17th tribute gala for the departing director of the Anti-Defamation League at the Waldorf-Astoria, you got a Foxman hug your ribs will remember.

Newport Jews Wrestle With Legal Battle — and Their Own Decline

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 05:00
Touro Synagogue, America’s oldest shul, is fighting two wars. One is against Congregation Shearith Israel of New York. The other is against its community’s demise.

Remembering Bonna Devora Haberman's Joy

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:00
Rabbi Bonna Devora Haberman, who died last week, honestly and creatively grappled with Judaism and Israel beocoming a role model for us all, writes Beth Kissileff.

My Daughter, the Catholic Rabbi

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 05:00
Cindy Skrzycki grew up Catholic. Her daughter decided to become a rabbi. What do they have in common? More than you might think.

Rob Zombie to Direct Groucho Marx Biopic

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 16:11
Marx Brothers and horror fans unite? It looks like musician turned film director Rob Zombie will helm the latest Groucho Marx biopic.

Reform Movement Mourns Victims of Charleston AME Tragedy

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:42

In response to the tragic killings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last night, Rachel Laser, deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are heartbroken by last night’s attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were taken, those who were injured, and with the entire community that has been traumatized by this violence. For all congregants – from the youngest children in religious school, to young professionals engaged in religious life, to long-time stalwarts of the community – houses of worship are places of safety, comfort and inspiration. For the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church to have become last night a place of such horror tears at the heart of every person of faith and goodwill.

We are relieved that the police have identified and captured the suspect. Prior to the arrest, Charleston police Chief Greg Mullen asserted that this attack is a hate crime. If so, we reaffirm that religious intolerance, racial discrimination and hate-motivated violence have no place in our society, which aspires to be a haven for people of all faiths, races and ethnicities.

This attack also serve as yet another tragic reminder of the violence wrought by guns, which fall too easily into the hands of those who seek to cause grievous harm. Our Jewish tradition teaches: “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). Today we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the African Methodist Episcopal community as we pray for those who were murdered and send our thoughts and strength to the families of the victims and those who were wounded.

Find prayers of mourning to say at your services this Shabbat on ReformJudaism.org.

The New Critical Mass of Orthodox Women Rabbis

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 09:12
The past two weeks have seen eight Orthodox women in both Israel and America ordained as clergy. The titles may vary – from Maharat to Rabba to Rabbi – but effectively all are now to be considered rabbis.

Yidstock Lands at Central Park – Yiddish Soul Kulturfest

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 20:43
It was the night of June 16, 2015, James Joyce/Leopold Bloom’s Bloomsday to some, the night before Ramadan to others, and to about 3,000 in Manhattan, it was the first NYC Summerstage cantorial fest. Offer Nissim this wasn’t. Heavy rains abated just in time for a free concert that joined together several famous NYC area […]

Worshipper Stabbed With Screwdriver Inside Kiryas Joel Synagogue

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 17:43
A non-Jewish custodian was arrested in the stabbing of a 35-year-old Jewish man inside a synagogue in Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic village in New York State.

Hasidic Stars Bring Yiddish Soul to Central Park

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 14:00
Yiddish Soul, a SummerStage concert featuring cantorial and Chassidic music, brought Kulturfest to Central Park.

Tokyo Meets the Lower East Side at Kulturfest

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 12:10
Klezmer music and Japanese punk street music sound as if they would make for strange bedfellows. But Jinta-La-Mvta have provided one of the highlights of this year’s Kulturfest.

Chabad Chides Vladimir Putin Over Russia Foreign Funding Bill

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 07:18
In a rare rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policy, a senior Chabad rabbi from Moscow expressed concerns over a bill aiming to limit foreign involvement.

Abby Mueller to Play Carol King in 'Beautiful' National Tour

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 16:21
Broadway’s Carol King musical is about to go national. So, without further ado, we present your new ‘Natural Woman’: Abby Mueller, sister of 2014-Tony winner Jessie Mueller.

New York Rabbis Push for Yeshiva Security Guard Funding

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 15:44
A group of New York City rabbis is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to have the city pay for security at parochial schools.

Bonna Haberman, Women of Wall Founder, Dies

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 12:35
Bonna Devora Haberman, the founder of Women of the Wall, a group pressing for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, has died.

The Original Rachel Dolezal Was a Jewish Man Named Milt

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 11:21
Decades before Rachel Dolezal joined the NAACP or Norman Mailer wrote of “the white Negro,” a Jewish jazz musician named Mezz Mezirow declared that he had undergone a “racial metamorphosis.” Seth Rogovoy recounts Mezirow’s story.