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  • Demand Equality at Israel's Holiest Site

    Have you ever been promised something only to find out that your promise was not going to be fulfilled? Something so near and dear to your heart that you had been hoping for years would happen, and when it finally came true it was subsequently blocked by others?

    How would you feel?

    What would you do?

    Well, this has been happening to us, and we're asking you to do something about it.

    On January 31, 2016 the Israeli Government passed an agreement to create an egalitarian section at the Kotel. Since then, certain ultra-Orthodox parties have been working to prevent the agreement from implementation.

    Israel's Supreme Court recently declared the following: “Enough is enough. Stop the foot dragging on implementing what was already agreed upon.”

    We agree, and we’re asking you to speak up about it.

    Why is this important?

    1. The Kotel is a symbol of the Jewish State and for the Jewish People and we must ensure that there is a place for all Jews to come and pray.

    2. This will be the first time in history the Government of Israel will recognize the Reform and Conservative movements in an official capacity. Under the agreement, the egalitarian section will be administered by our movements effectively resulting in government recognition of the liberal movements.

    3. We believe that Israel must be a Jewish and Democratic state that champions the values of freedom of religion and pluralism.  A victory here will be an essential step in achieving that.

    What can I do?

    Fill out the form below to send a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin, Speaker Edelstein, and Minister Bennett (your message will be emailed to all four simultaneously). You can customize the message or use the default message we have included. After sending your letters, please share this with your community and networks.

  • Pledge to Vote on Prop 57


    Tikkun Tikvah graphic
    On November 8, people across California will head to polling stations to vote in crucial state and federal races. There will also be a chance to weigh in on several state propositions. One of these is Proposition 57, also known as the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.

    If passed, this ballot measure would allow nonviolent offenders to earn time off for good behavior, pursue more rehabilitation options, and be eligible for earlier parole. Prop. 57 would also make a path for more teenage offenders go through the juvenile system with access to more rehabilitation programs rather than through the adult prison system.

    By pledging to vote Proposition 57, you will be a part of Reform CA’s Tikkun Tikvah campaign to restore hope, reform sentencing and engage voters in California.


    PLEDGE HERE TO VOTE YES ON PROP 57

  • Urge your Representative to Pass Sentencing Reform

    Over the past 40 years, the American prison population has grown by 500%. Over two million Americans are currently incarcerated, and a disproportionate number are people of color. The explosion in the prison population has resulted in overcrowding, poor treatment of prisoners, and staggering costs for the public.

    Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have come together in support of comprehensive reforms to our nation’s sentencing laws. The Sentencing Reform Act (H.R. 3713) is one of the most comprehensive efforts at criminal justice reform in decades. H.R. 3713 would tackle the problems of mass incarceration and over-criminalization by reducing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and granting judges greater discretion in sentencing decisions.

    Time is running out for Congress to act on this issue before the end of the year. Urge your Representative to support H.R. 3713 today.

  • AN Launch Registration

    On August 18 in Raleigh, NC, Movement leaders will gather to launch a non-partisan voter registration, get-out-the-vote, and voter protection effort that will continue across the country through November 8, Election Day. We are partnering with the NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the PICO National Network to do that work together. Here’s what you can do:

    • August 18-21, 2016: Join us in North Carolina or tune in online. At the invitation of NAACP President Cornell Brooks and Rev. William Barber, Reform Movement leaders will gather in Raleigh, NC to launch Atem Nitzaviim: Standing Up for Voter Protection and Participation. Hear from moving speakers, participate in valuable trainings and register North Carolinians to vote.
    • August – November 2016: Get out the Vote! With your congregation or as an individual, you can help get out the vote in your community.
    • Election Day, November 8, 2016: Protect the Right to Vote! Recent elections have shown that too often, eligible voters are turned away at the polls. Reform Movement congregants with legal expertise are encouraged to join the effort to protect the right to vote.

    For any and all information on Atem Nitzaviim, sign up below. We'll keep you updated about our launch in North Carolina, action opportunities around the country and ways you and your congregation can get involved.

  • Sit Together with NFTY to End Gun Violence

    Despite the historic sit-in staged by Members of Congress demanding a vote on gun violence prevention, the House of Representatives adjourned through July 5 without action.

    Send this petition to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and demand that the House vote on gun violence prevention immediately upon reconvening:

  • Sit Together to End Gun Violence

    Despite the historic sit-in staged by Members of Congress demanding a vote on gun violence prevention, the House of Representatives adjourned through July 5 without action.

    Send this petition to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and demand that the House vote on gun violence prevention immediately upon reconvening:

  • Urge Your Senators to Vote for Mandatory Background Checks

    On June 12, the largest and deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With 50 lives tragically lost, and 53 injured, there has never been a more important time to strengthen our gun laws. Though the Orlando gunman bought his gun legally, there remains much to be done to make guns less accessible to those who seek to do harm. A key step is to close loopholes in the background check system for people purchasing guns.

    While there is no evidence that the shooter was prohibited from having firearms, mass shootings generally happen more frequently in states that do not require background checks for all gun sales, which means felons and other prohibited people there can evade background checks and obtain guns in unlicensed sales. One Everytown for Gun Safety analysis shows that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, including guns offered in unlicensed sales online and at gun shows, there are 52 percent fewer mass shootings.

    Soon, the Senate will vote to expand mandatory background checks to all firearm sales. It is imperative that you urge your Senator to support the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 (S. 2934) when it comes up for a vote. 

    Background: Currently, when someone purchases a gun at a store in the United States, a background check is conducted. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been able to conduct background checks almost instantaneously since it was started in 1998, and has prevented hundreds of thousands of people who are prohibited from owning guns, from purchasing one. Unfortunately, a background check is not required for every gun sale in the United States, so many people are still able to legally purchase guns in places like gun shows or online even if they wouldn’t be able to in a store.

    The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 (S. 2934), introduced in May 2016 by Senator Schumer (D-NY), would expand Brady Background Checks to all gun sales (including those made at gun shows and online). It would also improve reporting of prohibited purchasers to NICS and require federal agencies to certify that they have provided appropriate records to NICS. Lastly, it would require gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearm(s) within 48 hours.

  • Submit a Comment to the CFPB on the Payday Lending Rule

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a proposed rule on June 2 that would regulate unethical and predatory payday lending practices. This rule requires all lenders to consider their customer’s “ability to repay” before issuing high-interest, short term loans, sometimes with interest rates exceeding 300%.

    The CFPB is asking for comments on their proposed rule. Submitting comments is very important to the process, not only to provide key feedback on the content of the rule, but also to encourage swift its implementation.

    Make your voice heard and submit a comment here!

  • Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban

    Background:

    On June 12, the largest and deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with 50 lives tragically lost and 53 injured. As we continue to mourn the lives of those murdered, it is our collective responsibility to advance sensible gun-laws aimed at curbing future violence.

    Many guns that have been used in recent mass shootings, including one of the guns used in the Orlando attack, are military-style assault weapons that are designed to enable the shooting of mass numbers of bullets quickly and efficiently without reloading. When an assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine is used in a shooting, the number of victims who are killed, increases by 63%. Sadly, this is demonstrated by not only the most recent attack in Orlando, but by the violence in San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Aurora and too many more places. It is time to make sure that these weapons are taken off our streets.

    The Assault Weapons Ban of 2015 (H.R. 4269), introduced by Representative David Cicilline (D-RI-1) would prohibit the sale, transfer, production and importation of 157 of the most commonly-owned military-style assault weapons. The ban extends to weapons that accept a detachable ammunition magazine, and that have one or more military characteristics. The ban would also prohibit large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds. New magazines containing more than 10 rounds were banned under the Federal Assault Weapons Act of 1994, but became available again when Congress failed to renew the law in 2004. 

  • Urge Your Governor to Act on Climate

     The Clean Power Plan provides the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and aims to reduce emissions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan has the potential to develop a clean energy economy, create new jobs and reduce health risks from carbon pollution.

    Under the Clean Power Plan, each state received different emissions reduction targets and are now tasked with creating an implementation plan to reach those targets. Currently, the Clean Power Plan is being challenged by 28 states in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. We must work to ensure that despite legal challenges, states continue to create plans to reduce emissions from power plants.

    Urge your Governor to create an implementation plan that cuts carbon pollution from power plants in a just and sustainable way. 

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  • Protect People from Gun Violence at the Hands of Domestic Abusers

    Join the Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence for our national faith call-in day on domestic violence and guns, and tell your Members of Congress that it is time to act on legislation to protect people from gun violence at the hands of domestic abusers.

    Over half of all women killed by intimate partners were murdered with a gun. Nearly half of all intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner, and more than three-quarters of women killed by intimate partners were also stalked by their abuser.  Yet perpetrators convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence against a dating partner or misdemeanor stalking can still freely access firearms, despite posing a significant risk to the safety of the victim.

    H.R. 3130, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, and S. 1520, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, would close these life-threatening loopholes by extending domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

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  • Support Oversight in East Ramapo

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    Over the past couple of years, reports from two separate state monitors assigned to the East Ramapo School District have found that children attending East Ramapo public schools are not receiving equitable and just access to educational opportunities. Jewish values call on us to cherish education and pursue justice, and both are at risk for the children attending public school in East Ramapo.

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     Remarks by Aung Ko, the new Burmese Minister of Religion, suggested that the minority Muslim community does not have the same citizenship rights as the Buddhist majority. This concept of “associate” and “full” citizens, does not represent the values of religious freedom and democracy that the new government has committed to promote. Urge Burma’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. U Kyaw Myo Htut, to ask Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi to repudiate this statement and reaffirm the National League for Democracy’s commitment to religious freedom and democracy, and demand that Minister of Religion, Aung Ko, either resign due to his inflammatory remarks or clarify his statement. 

  • Tell Congress: Uphold the Well-Being of Holocaust Survivors

    There are 500,000 Holocaust survivors around the world today, many of whom are living in poverty. In the former Soviet Union, 85-90% of the entire survivor population is impoverished, and in New York City poverty affects 50% of Holocaust survivors. As these individuals age, they have unique and changing needs. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany – better known as the Claims Conference – works with the German government to secure funding to help Holocaust survivors live in safety, health and dignity.

    With a new round of negotiations between the Claims Conference and Germany focusing on home care and other healthcare necessities underway, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) and Ted Deutch (FL), along with Senators Bill Nelson (FL) and Susan Collins (ME), have introduced a resolution expressing Congress’ commitment to the dignity, comfort and security of Holocaust survivors and urging Germany to assist in addressing their needs. Ask your Members of Congress to co-sponsor as H.Con.Res 129/S.Con.Res 36 today.

  • SRCA Letter Sign-On for Florida Rabbis

    Thank you for your interest in signing on to the letter from Reform rabbis in Florida urging Senator Rubio to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123)!

    Please fill out the fields below exactly as you would like them to appear on the letter. Note that your information will be included on the letter using the following format: [Title] [First Name] [Last Name], [Congregation], [Congregation City]. If you are not a congregational rabbi or do not want to have your congregation listed on the letter, please leave that field blank and fill out Congregation City and Congregation State with your personal location.

    Please be sure to double check that all information is typed correctly before submitting. 

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  • NFTY-SAR: Urge Governor McCrory to Repeal HB 2

    Recently, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 2 into law, which puts LGBT North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.  This wide-sweeping legislation puts into place broad anti-LGBT provisions by nullifying LGBT non-discrimination laws that were already in place in cities across North Carolina and preventing similar ones from being passed in the future. The bill also requires all people to use restrooms inconsistent with their gender identity, specifically targeting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.


    Jewish Values:

    Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). The belief that the stamp of the Divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism, and teaches us that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person because of who they are.

    Take Action:

    If you would like to take further action, urge your Members of Congress to protect LGBT people from discrimination by supporting the Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858).

    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tracy Wolf at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's LGBT Rights issue page.

  • NFTY-MAR: Urge Governor McCrory to Repeal HB 2

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    Recently, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 2 into law, which puts LGBT North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.  This wide-sweeping legislation puts into place broad anti-LGBT provisions by nullifying LGBT non-discrimination laws that were already in place in cities across North Carolina and preventing similar ones from being passed in the future. The bill also requires all people to use restrooms inconsistent with their gender identity, specifically targeting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

    Jewish Values:

    Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). The belief that the stamp of the Divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism, and teaches us that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person because of who they are.

    Take Action:

    If you would like to take further action, urge your Members of Congress to protect LGBT people from discrimination by supporting the Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858).

    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tracy Wolf at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's LGBT Rights issue page.

  • Urge Governor Bryant to Repeal HB 1523

    Governor Bryant recently signed into law HB 1523, the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” This bill would, under the guise of protecting religious freedom, allow for discrimination against the LGBT community and other vulnerable populations, without any possibility for recourse. Urge Governor Bryant to repeal this discriminatory law.

    Special Language Inserts

    Please add in and personalize the following language to the opening of your letter to the governor:

    NFTY SO: As a Reform Jew and a ____ of the North American Federation of Temple Youth’s Southern Region (NFTY-SO), I urge you to repeal HB 1523, the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam (repairing the world), personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. NFTY’s Southern Region includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, western Tennessee, Alabama (excluding Montgomery), and the Florida panhandle. HB 1523 goes against the values of inclusion, equality and justice taught at NFTY and in Reform Judaism. Under the guise of protecting religious freedom, this bill would allow for discrimination against the LGBT community and other vulnerable populations, without any possibility for recourse.

    Jacobs Camp: As a Reform Jew and a ____ of URJ Jacobs Camp, I urge you to repeal HB 1523, the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.” Jacobs is the Union for Reform Judaism's summer camp serving the Deep South: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Central & Western Tennessee and the Florida Panhandle. Since 1970, Jacobs Camp has been providing a caring Jewish community that builds young people.  HB 1523 goes against the values of inclusion, equality and justice taught at camp and in Reform Judaism. Under the guise of protecting religious freedom, this bill would allow for discrimination against the LGBT community and other vulnerable populations, without any possibility for recourse.

  • Urge Governor McCrory to repeal North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law HB 2

    Recently, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 2 into law, which puts LGBT North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.  This wide-sweeping legislation puts into place broad anti-LGBT provisions by nullifying LGBT non-discrimination laws that were already in place in cities across North Carolina and preventing similar ones from being passed in the future. The bill also requires all people to use restrooms inconsistent with their gender identity, specifically targeting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

    Special Language Inserts:

    Please add in and personalize the following language to the opening of your letter to the governor:

    NFTY MAR: As a Reform Jew and a ____ of the North American Federation of Temple Youth’s Mid-Atlantic Region (NFTY MAR), I urge you to repeal HB 2. NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam (repairing the world), personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. NFTY’s Mid-Atlantic Region includes Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and North Carolina (excluding Charlotte). HB 2 goes against the values of inclusion, equality and justice taught at NFTY and in Reform Judaism. This legislation puts lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.

    NFTY SAR: As a Reform Jew and a ____ of the North American Federation of Temple Youth’s Southern-Area Region (NFTY SAR), I urge you to repeal HB 2. NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam (repairing the world), personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. NFTY’s Southern Area Region includes South Carolina; Georgia; Charlotte, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Jacksonville, FL; and Tallahassee, FL. HB 2 goes against the values of inclusion, equality and justice taught at NFTY and in Reform Judaism. This legislation puts lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.

    6 Points Sports Academy: As a Reform Jew and a ____ of URJ 6 Points Sports Academy, I urge you to repeal HB 2. At 6 Points North Carolina, Jewish education promotes Jewish identity building throughout the course of each day. Campers not only improve their athletic abilities, they build self-confidence, strong connections to their peers and grow into proud Jewish athletes. HB 2 goes against the values of inclusion, equality and justice taught at camp and in Reform Judaism. This legislation puts lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) North Carolinians at risk for discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives.

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  • Urge Congress to Pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123)

    Over the past 40 years, the American prison population has grown by 500%. Over two million Americans are currently incarcerated, and a disproportionate number of those are people of color. The explosion in the prison population has resulted in overcrowding, poor treatment of prisoners, and staggering costs for the public.
    In the Senate, legislators from both sides of the aisle have come together in support of comprehensive reforms to our nation’s sentencing laws. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) represents the most comprehensive effort to reform our criminal justice system in decades. This bill would tackle the problems of mass incarceration and over-criminalization by reducing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and granting judges greater discretion in sentencing decisions. But, time is running short to pass significant criminal justice reform in this year's shortened legislative calendar.
    Urge your Senators to support S. 2123, and to call on Senate leadership to schedule floor time and a vote on the legislation in the coming weeks.

  • Urge Congress to Ensure Due Process for Unaccompanied Children

    According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 23,553 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the Southwest Border between October 2015 and February 2016. Most of these children came from Mexico and Central America, fleeing poverty, systemic violence and governmental failure.

    Unaccompanied children face a long and arduous journey from their home countries to the comparative security of the United States. Once they arrive, many hope to be granted asylum, but they face considerable barriers, not the least of which is a lack of proper legal representation in asylum proceedings.

    The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, introduced as S. 2540 by Senator Reid (D-NV) and H.R. 4646 by Representative Lofgren (CA-19) would ensure access to counsel, legal orientation programs and post-release services for children and other vulnerable individuals while they are in immigration court proceedings.

    Urge your Senators and Representative to support the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act.

  • Urge Congress to Help Flint Build a Safe Water System

    Congress has the chance to help Flint, Michigan and other cities that have crumbling infastructures and dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water.

    The Drinking Water Safety and Infrastructure Act (S. 2579) would  provide $170 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue loans to states to fund pipe replacement and other clean drinking water projects, and $50 million to create a lead exposure registry and to fund three children’s health programs related to lead exposure.

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  • Protect LGBT People from Discrimination

    BACKGROUND:

    Currently, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face discrimination in a wide variety of areas. Most states do not have laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination and there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit, and jury selection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    The Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858) will address this issue by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. By building upon decades of civil rights legislation that have tangibly reduced discrimination, the Equality Act will significantly reduce the amount of discrimination LGBT people face and will provide an avenue for recourse for victims of discrimination. This bill will provide the same protections to LGBT people that are provided to other protected groups under federal law and will strengthen existing civil rights laws by expanding the definition of public accommodations and ensuring that people are protected from sex discrimination in public accommodations and federal funding.

    JEWISH VALUES:

    Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). The belief that the stamp of the divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism and teaches us that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person because of their identity.

  • Urge Congress to Stop Predatory Lending Practices

    Congress is currently considering The Consumer Protection and Choice Act (H.R. 4018). This legislation would make it more difficult for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate predatory lenders. Urge congress to vote No on H.R. 4018 to protect Americans from being forced into a cycle of harmful debt.

  • Support Paid Family and Medical Leave

    Urge Congress to pass the FAMILY Act (H.R. 1439/S. 786) to provide paid family and medical leave for all workers in America.

  • Protect the Arctic

    Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to Protect the Arctic.

    Oil companies are threatening to destroy the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by expanding drilling in the region. The Refuge is home to the Gwich’in community, who consider the Coastal Plain to be a sacred place. Additionally, nearly 200 diverse species including polar bears, wolves and Porcupine caribou live in the region and many rely on the Coastal Plain as their breeding ground. Take action to ensure one of America’s few remaining pristine wilderness areas is protected. 

  • Justice Cannot Wait: Urge Your Senators to Fulfill their Constitutional Responsibility

    Our nation’s wellbeing is strengthened by the smooth functioning of the judicial system. For that reason, the Senate must fulfill its constitutional responsibilities to hold hearings and vote on a Presidential nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. While we take no position on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland specifically, we look forward to learning more about his record and fitness for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the nation.

    Background:

    The process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy is constitutionally-designed to be interactive: the President puts forth a nominee and the Senate provides advice and consent by conducting a fair hearing and timely vote. This process is as old as our nation and has been a hallmark of the system of checks and balances that provides for the stability and efficacy of our government. A seat on our highest court intentionally left vacant for an extended period of time threatens the ability of the government to operate at full capacity.

    The process of filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court ought to be swift. Since the 1980s, every person appointed to the Supreme Court has been given a hearing and vote within approximately 100 days of their nomination. With 10 months before a new president takes office, there is ample time for the nomination and confirmation process to occur. And although 2016 is an election year, six Supreme Court justices have been confirmed during presidential election years.

    The American people deserve a fully functioning judiciary, starting with a full Supreme Court bench. It is time for Senators to fulfill their constitutionally-mandated role of providing advice and consent.

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  • Support Public Financing for Congressional Elections

    Recent Supreme Court decisions and legislative actions have significantly weakened federal campaign finance regulations, opening our electoral system to unprecedented quantities of money and the outsized political influence of the wealthiest donors.

    Urge your elected officials to restore our democracy to the American people through the passage of The Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) and the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 1538), which would establish public financing systems for congressional elections.

  • Support the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act

    Respite care programs provide short term support for children and adults with disabilities. These programs allow family members, who serve as caretakers, the time to focus on their own health and wellbeing.  These short breaks allow them the mental and physical rest to continue providing loving care to their family members.

    Urge Congress to pass the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3913), to provide $75 million over five years to respite care programs around the country.

  • End Indefinite Detention at Guantanamo

    After 14 years, the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is still open and home to 89 prisoners, despite President Obama’s 2009 executive order calling for swift closure of the prison. While Congress continues to pass provisions that creates roadblocks to closing the prison, the White House could do more to review and transfer appropriate detainees.

    Our tradition teaches “if someone attacks another, the second is innocent of any responsibility for injury caused to the first, since he has a right to defend himself, but if he was able to use less force but caused greater injury then he is guilty” (Shulchan Aruch). The mistreatment of prisoners, such as indefinite detention, goes beyond what experts assert is necessary to defend our safety and denies those prisoners basic dignity and respect. It is time for the Obama Administration to speed up the review of Guantanamo detainees, transfer those who have been cleared for transfer and submit those remaining for trial in federal courts.

  • Urge Your Members of Congress to Support President Obama’s Executive Order to Address Gun Violence

    Recently, President Obama issued an executive order to address gun violence, an issue that affects communities nationwide, as we have seen in the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and most recently in San Bernardino, California. Though on their own, the President’s actions are significant and meaningful, congressional support is needed to comprehensively tackle this crisis, to fund and fully implement the executive order, and to make sure these common sense steps are not overturned by future presidents. Take action and urge your Members of Congress to support President Obama’s executive order to prevent gun violence.  

     
    Background:

    President Obama’s executive order addresses four key issues surrounding gun violence: background checks, community-based fixes, mental health and gun safety technology. The order requires background checks on more gun sales as more individuals will now need to obtain a license to sell firearms. Further, the order seeks to hire hundreds of new staff to help improve the national background check system and enforce existing laws. The President also seeks more money for mental health treatment. Although the actions taken by President Obama are significant and meaningful, there is still much work that needs to be done. Congress must act to ensure its success in keeping Americans safe. 

  • Support the Transition to Independence Act

    People living with disabilities often have a very difficult time finding work. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the unemployment rate for this population in 2014 was 12.5%, more than double the rate for the entire population. Further, section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows businesses to pay people with disabilities below the minimum wage. Today, 450,000 Americans with disabilities hold jobs in places like segregated workshops, where they are not paid fairly for their time.

    Urge Congress to pass the Transition to Independence Act (S.1604), legislation that will encourage states to increase integrated employment and decrease segregated subminimum wage work.

  • Thank President Obama for Taking Action Against Gun Violence

    We applaud President Obama’s executive order to address the scourge of gun violence in the United States. Under the order announced today, which seeks to clarify existing understanding of what it means to be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms, more individuals will have to obtain a federal firearms license, narrowing the scope of dangerous loopholes in our gun purchasing system and strengthening the process of background checks on gun sales. The order also acknowledges the federal government’s power as a purchaser of firearms and calls for a strategy for research and development into broader use of smart gun technology, which will ultimately help keep our communities safer. These are important steps toward preventing further devastating tragedies of gun violence that have become all too familiar.

  • Improve the Background Check System for Gun Sales

    On June 12, the largest and deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With 50 lives tragically lost, and 53 injured, there has never been a more important time to strengthen our gun laws. Though the Orlando gunman bought his gun legally and there remains much to be done to make guns less accessible to those who seek to do harm, a key step is to close loopholes in the background check system for people purchasing guns.

    While there is no evidence that the shooter was prohibited from having firearms, mass shootings generally happen more frequently in states that do not require background checks for all gun sales, which means felons and other prohibited people there can evade background checks and obtain guns in unlicensed sales. One Everytown for Gun Safety analysis shows that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, including guns offered in unlicensed sales online and at gun shows, there are 52 percent fewer mass shootings.

    Background: Currently, when someone purchases a gun at a store in the United States, a background check is conducted. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been able to conduct background checks almost instantaneously since it was started in 1998, and has prevented hundreds of thousands of people who are prohibited from owning guns, from purchasing one. Unfortunately, a background check is not required for every gun sale in the United States, so many people are still able to legally purchase guns in places like gun shows or online even if they wouldn’t be able to in a store.

    Further, currently, if a background check is not completed within 72 hours, a licensed firearms dealer can sell a gun without one. While 95% of NICS background checks are completed within two hours, it is critical that the FBI has additional time to complete background checks when needed. According to the FBI, “a purchaser whose NICS check takes more than 24 hours to complete is almost 20 times more likely to be a prohibited person than the average gun buyer.” When firearm dealers are allowed to bypass background checks, they are too often selling to people who otherwise would be a prohibited purchaser.

    The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2015 (H.R. 3411), introduced in July 2015 by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), would expand Brady Background Checks to all gun sales (including those made at gun shows and online). It would also improve reporting of prohibited purchasers to NICS and require federal agencies to certify that they have provided appropriate records to NICS. Lastly, it would require gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearm(s) within 48 hours.

    The Background Check Completion Act of 2015 (S. 2213), introduced in October 2015 by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would prohibit a licensed gun dealer from selling a firearm to an unlicensed person before their background check is completed. In other words, if a background check is not complete, then a licensed firearms dealer cannot make a sale. 

  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment

    In January 1973, the U.S. Supreme court recognized that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion in the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Ever since, many measures have been taken to limit access to abortion procedures, diminishing the right to choose. One of the most notable and longstanding of these is the Hyde Amendment, which was first passed in 1976 and has been renewed every year since.

    The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal money for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger for all federally administered health care plans such as Medicaid, TRICARE, and Indian Health Service. Many people that are have insurance through these plans, particularly Medicaid, are of low income. Thus, the Hyde Amendment largely and disproportionately impacts a low-income women’s right to choose. It is reprehensible that women are denied their right to choose and serve as their own moral agent for their reproductive health simply because they are insured by a federal health care plan. 

    The Equal Access to Abortion in Health Insurance or EACH Woman Act (H.R. 2972), which was introduced in the House of Representatives in July 2015 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13). This bill seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment. It would guarantee that every person who receives care or insurance through a federal plan or program will have coverage for abortion.

  • Stand With Reform Movement Leaders in Ending Gun Violence

    Stand with the Reform Movement and call on President Obama to take executive action to end the scourge of gun violence.

  • Time for U.S. Leadership on Refugees

    The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 60 million people worldwide are displaced. The U.S. currently caps the number of refugees for Fiscal Year 2015 at 70,000, and is raising the cap to 85,000 for 2016, and 100,000 for 2017. Sadly, those numbers are not enough to respond to the challenge. Now is the time to safely and securely open our doors to those seeking refuge, not slam them shut.

    The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill similar to that recently passed by the House (H.R. 4038), which would halt resettlement for refugees from Syria and Iraq. This policy does not reflect our values as Americans or as members of the Reform Jewish Movement. Repelled often in times of greatest need, and with our own recent memories of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees during the Holocaust, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted.

    The U.S. can play a vital leadership role by accepting additional refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees, and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.  

    Though no system is perfect, the refugee resettlement program is a lengthy and rigorous one designed to affirm a person’s status as a true refugee and to ensure they pose no threat. The U.S. refugee program allows us to uphold our values as a country that is a safe haven and beacon of freedom while also prioritizing national security.

    Urge your members of Congress to help address this humanitarian crisis by opposing any effort to limit refugees of certain religious backgrounds or those from Syria. Instead, now is the time to increase the number of Syrian refugees welcomed by the U.S. and call on other countries to do the same.

     

     

     
  • Continue to Welcome Refugees into Canada

    The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 60 million people worldwide are displaced. In response to the crisis, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to accept 25,000 refugees by January 1, 2016. Canada can play a vital leadership role by continuing to welcome refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.  

    As Jews with deep connections to Israel, we have long known of Syrian President Assad’s barbarism, reflected in atrocities inflicted on his own people. Repelled often in times of greatest need, and with our own recent memories of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees during the Holocaust, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted. We are instructed in the Holiness Code (Lev. 19:33) to take to heart the lessons of our own history by treating aliens in our midst with justice and compassion. “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

    Following recent attacks in Paris, some have misguidedly called for an end to the Syrian refugee resettlement program, in the name of national security. Though no system is perfect, the refugee resettlement program is designed to affirm a person’s status as a true refugee and to ensure they pose no threat. The Canadian refugee program allows us to uphold our values as a country that is a safe haven and beacon of freedom while also prioritizing national security.

    Urge Prime Minister Trudeau to help address this humanitarian crisis by remaining firm in his plan to accept 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016. Now is the time welcome Syrian refugees and call on other countries to do the same.

  • Continue to Welcome Refugees into Canada

     The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 60 million people worldwide are displaced. In response to the crisis, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to accept 25,000 refugees by January 1, 2016. Canada can play a vital leadership role by continuing to welcome refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.  

    As Jews with deep connections to Israel, we have long known of Syrian President Assad’s barbarism, reflected in atrocities inflicted on his own people. Repelled often in times of greatest need, and with our own recent memories of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees during the Holocaust, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted. We are instructed in the Holiness Code (Lev. 19:33) to take to heart the lessons of our own history by treating aliens in our midst with justice and compassion. “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

    Following recent attacks in Paris, some have misguidedly called for an end to the Syrian refugee resettlement program, in the name of nation security. Though no system is perfect, the refugee resettlement program is a lengthy and rigorous one designed to affirm a person’s status as a true refugee and to ensure they pose no threat. The Canadian refugee program allows us to uphold our values as a country that is a safe haven and beacon of freedom while also prioritizing national security.

    Urge Prime Minister Trudeau to help address this humanitarian crisis by remaining firm in his plan to accept 25,000 refugees by the end of the year. Now is the time welcome Syrian refugees and call on other countries to do the same.

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  • Remind Me of RJV on Giving Tuesday!

    Sign up to receive an email notification reminding you to support RJV on Giving Tuesday.
    As RJV gears up to bring Reform Jews from around New York State together to advocate for social justice during the 2016 legislative session, we need your help. If you would like to donate now, you can do so online. If you have any questions, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Jacob Kraus.

  • Urge Congress to Protect Core Economic Justice Programs in the Budget

    Congress is in the final phases of negotiating a budget for 2016. After a bipartisan budget agreement was reached, Congress has more funding available this year to allocate to programs that support the most vulnerable. Billions of dollars have been cut from these essential programs over the past five years, but unfortunately the need for the programs has not decreased. If funding levels are not increased, and ultimately restored, too many Americans will lose the much-needed programs and services that our government provides to the many vulnerable people in our society.

    Urge Congress to restore lost funding to the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program for more than 8 million people, and to restore funding for housing choice vouchers to house 60,000 families.

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  • Faithful Call to Address Climate Change

    BACKGROUND

    From November 30 to December 11, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Paris, France. World leaders from government, finance, business, faith and civil society will convene to discuss adaptation, mitigation, climate finance and technology.

    World leaders will meet with the goal of creating a legally binding universal agreement on climate change – the first in over 20 years of UN negotiations – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support climate resilience in poor and vulnerable communities. An international deal is essential to safeguard our planet and the millions of people worldwide who are already suffering the detrimental effects of climate change. The United States must lead the way, and we as a Reform Jewish community must call on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to ensure that an international agreement is effective in protecting the most vulnerable populations around the world.

    Climate change threatens all people, especially those in regions who have done the least to cause the problem but suffer the most severe impacts. If we act now, we can not only mitigate the effects of climate change, but we can build a more just and sustainable future for ourselves and our children.

  • Support Anti-Malaria Programs for Global Health


    It is critical that we urge Congress to protect funding for the President's Malaria Iinitative (started by President George W. Bush) and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during the next round of budget debates.  We also urge members of Congress to join the Malaria and Other Neglected Tropical Disease Caucus as a way to learn more about this disease, its economic and social burden, and how the U.S. government has led and can continue to lead this fight. 

    Contact your members of Congress and ask them to robustly support the President's Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund.

  • Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights

    On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder  invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act. In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decision, many states have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box, by introducing--and in many cases passing restrictive voting laws. 

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 1659 / H.R. 2867), which would help restore protections against these restrictive voting laws.

  • Urge Congress to Support the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit

    Urge Congress to Support the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit

    Congress now has the chance to strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). These credits promote human dignity and help millions of Americans lift themselves out of poverty. The EITC and CTC are set to expire in 2017; these credits need to be reauthorized, and Congress should also make the EITC and CTC permanent. If they are not renewed 19 million low wage workers would lose their credit and 16 million people would fall deeper into poverty. Congress must ensure that these highly effective tax credits are available in 2017 and beyond.

  • Urge Congress to Pass Sentencing Reform

    Over the past 40 years, the American prison population has grown by 500%. Over two million Americans are currently incarcerated, and a disproportionate number of those are people of color. The explosion in the prison population has resulted in overcrowding, poor treatment of prisoners, and staggering costs for the public.

    In the Senate and the House, legislators from both sides of the aisle have come together in support of comprehensive reforms to our nation’s sentencing laws. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) and the Sentencing Reform Act (H.R. 3713) represent the most significant efforts at criminal justice reform in decades. These bills would tackle the problems of mass incarceration and over-criminalization by reducing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and granting judges greater discretion in sentencing decisions.

    Urge your elected officials to support S. 2123 and H.R. 3713 today.

  • Pass a Budget that Protects the Most Vulnerable

    Congress has until December 11 to pass a budget for 2016 that eases the painful cuts imposed in the Budget Control Act of 2011. These cuts, known as budget sequestration, trigger across the board spending caps on many government programs. Those who are most vulnerable – poor Americans, children, the elderly and others - will feel the effects most keenly. Urge Congress to pass a fair budget that eases sequester cuts that hurt the most vulnerable, and restores funding to essential government programs relied upon by Americans most in need.

  • Support Paid Sick Days

     The ability for workers to earn paid sick days is a critical issue of economic justice, labor rights, women’s equality, working families, and public health.

    The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 932/S. 497), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray, would require employers with 15 or more workers scheduled to work each day to permit employees to earn up to 7 job-protected paid sick days every year.

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act,legislation that would pass paid sick days nationwide and support working families.

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  • Time for U.S. Leadership on Refugees

    The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 65 million people worldwide are displaced. The U.S. currently caps the number of refugees for Fiscal Year 2015 at 70,000, and is raising the cap to 85,000 for 2016, and 110,000 for 2017. Sadly, those numbers are not enough to respond to the challenge. Now is the time to safely and securely open our doors to those seeking refuge, not slam them shut.

    Repelled often in times of greatest need, and with our own recent memories of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees during the Holocaust, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted.

    The U.S. can play a vital leadership role by accepting additional refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees, and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.  

    Though no system is perfect, the refugee resettlement program is a lengthy and rigorous one designed to affirm a person’s status as a true refugee and to ensure they pose no threat. The U.S. refugee program allows us to uphold our values as a country that is a safe haven and beacon of freedom while also prioritizing national security.

    Urge your members of Congress to help address this humanitarian crisis by opposing any effort to limit refugees of certain religious backgrounds or those from Syria. Instead, now is the time to increase the number of Syrian refugees welcomed by the U.S. and call on other countries to do the same.

  • Oppose Efforts to Curtail Reproductive Rights

    Over the past few weeks, Members of Congress have introduced several bills that threaten a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Most notably, on September 18 the House of Representatives passed the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H.R. 3134). This legislation would make serious financial cuts to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, forcing Planned Parenthood clinics to close, and in turn preventing millions of women of all ages and walks of life from receiving much-needed reproductive health care information and services including cancer screening, STI/STD testing and contraception.

    This and other bills aiming to restrict women's ability to make their own reproductive decisions or access reproductive health care, should be opposed.

  • Take Action on the Green Climate Fund

    Green Climate Fund Logo

    The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is intended to help developing and vulnerable countries address the challenges and negative impacts of climate change like flooding, sea level rise, drought and decreased crop production.

    More than 30 countries have pledged $10.2 billion to get the fund up and running. In his current budget proposal, President Obama has requested $500 million for the GCF. To maintain U.S. leadership in addressing the global climate challenge, Congress must approve this request.

    This request is timely as Pope Francis, who is leading the interfaith call for action on climate change, addresses Congress on September 24. As Reform Jews, we join the call from the international faith community for our global leaders to address climate change. Urge your Members of Congress to support $500 million for the Green Climate Fund to combat global climate change. 

  • Call on President Obama and Congress to Address the Refugee Crisis

    The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere is the most pressing refugee crisis since World War II. It has added to a global situation in which more than 60 million people worldwide are displaced. The U.S. currently caps the number of refugees for Fiscal Year 2015 at 70,000, and is raising the cap to 85,000 for 2016, and 100,000 for 2017. Sadly, those numbers are not enough to respond to the global challenge before us. The U.S. can play a vital leadership role by accepting additional refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees, and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.  

    As Jews with deep connections to Israel we have long known of Syrian President Assad’s barbarism, reflected in atrocities inflicted on his own people. The crisis of Syrian refugees is now adding to the growing numbers of persons displaced by violence in the broader region and in Africa as well. Of course, as Jews our own deep memories of the plight of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees in an unwelcoming Europe after the Shoah we are moved to act as we see others struggling to find sanctuary.

    Repelled often in times of greatest need, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted. We are instructed in the Holiness Code (Lev. 19:33) to take to heart the lessons of our own history by treating aliens in our midst with justice and compassion. “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

    The growing and urgent crisis of the millions of Middle Eastern refugees who have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing violence challenges and pains us; and we call on Congress and the Administration to act now.

    Urge President Obama and Congress to help address a humanitarian crisis by increasing the number of Syrian refugees welcomed in the U.S. by another 85,000 refugees in 2016 (above the recently announced refugee ceiling of 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017) and by calling on European leaders and others to increase the number of refugees welcomed into their countries.

     
  • Urge Gov. Brown to Sign AB 953 and help Stop Racial Profiling

    Join Reform CA in ending racial profiling!

    AB 953 is sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.  You, along with other Reform Jews in California, can help get the Governor to sign AB 953 into law and help stop racial profiling in California. Contact Gov. Brown today. 

    Jewish sages teach that we were all created from one human being so that no person can say, “My ancestor is greater than yours.” 

    Tell Gov. Brown to sign AB 953:

    • So police across California treat African Americans and Latinos with the same dignity they treat white residents.  As Pirkei Avot says “your friend’s dignity should be as dear to you as your own” 

    • because 129 residents were killed by law enforcement officers so far this year, the most of any state in the nation.

    • because biased policing breeds distrust in police, which in turn undermines the safety of all Californians. 

    Join Reform Jews from across California urging Gov. Brown to sign AB 953!


    Please read on for more information about AB 953

    Learn more about Reform CA and social justice issues in California and elsewhere

  • Join Reform CA in Ending Racial Profiling!

    AB 953 (Racial Profiling) is stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee, but Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon has the power to get the bill out of committee and bring it to a full Senate vote. You, along with 500 other Reform Jews in California, can help get Senator de Leon to make sure AB 953 doesn’t get killed in committee.  Call Senate President de Leon today -- (916) 651-4024. Be part of a strong force of united Reform Jews in California. For more information on the bill, visit AB 953 (Racial Profiling).

    Add your voice to this petition which we will deliver to the California Senate and Senate President de Leon to bring AB 953 to a full Senate vote as soon as possible.

    Raise your voice and tell them that we are B'yachad: In This Together!

    Read Rabbi Paul Kipnes’ blog about why he is calling de Leon (spoiler: it is related to Rabbi Kipnes carrying the Torah for part of America's Journey for Justice: a 40-day march for racial justice from Selma to Washington DC).    

    For more information on Reform California or to get more involved, visit the Reform CA webpage or contact the Reform CA team

    Talking Points for your call with Senate President Kevin de Leon:

    My name is ______________ and I am calling from Temple ___________ and from Reform California, the statewide social justice campaign of the Reform Jewish Movement

    I am calling about AB 953 which aims to prevent the harmful and unjust practice of racial and identity profiling, and increase transparency and accountability among law enforcement agencies. 

    I urge you to make sure that AB 953 gets out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and goes to a full Senate vote.  The bill’s sponsors have made many changes in the bill to reduce the costs to the state of California.  AB 953 must go to a Senate vote so we can ensure that police in California treat everyone with the same dignity and honor, regardless of race and identity.  We must make sure that our policing aspires to the biblical ideal that we are all equal in God’s eyes. 

    Passing AB 953 will strengthen equal protection guarantees for all Californians, improve public safety, and advance police-community relations. Please make sure AB 953 comes to a vote in the full Senate. 

    Thanks for your time. Goodbye. 
  • Support The Summer Meals Act of 2015

    According to 2013 data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 49 million Americans lived in a household that faced difficulty affording enough food. One in five, or 15.8 million of these household members, were children. Food insecurity is nationwide and has major impacts on children - previous USDA studies have shown that children who live in food-insecure households have increased risks of developmental and health problems. Studies also link growing up in poverty to obesity later on in life, further demonstrating how important it is for us to ensure that children will not go hungry.

    The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613 / H.R. 1728), introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), would expand, strengthen, and protect access to the Summer Nutrition Programs, which provide federal funding to serve nutritious foods during the summer break. These programs are especially crucial during the summer break, when low-income children lose access to free and reduced-price school meals that they have during the school year.

  • Support a Minimum Wage Increase for All New Yorkers
    On Wednesday, July 22, a wage board convened by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced their recommendation to progressively increase the minimum wage to $15/hour for fast food workers in 2021.

    This comes as New York State is in the midst of implementing a state-wide increase to the minimum wage, with the final phase coming into effect at the end of 2015 with a $9/hour standard for all workers.

    While the wage board’s decision is an important step towards economic justice in New York State, it only affects one industry. We call now on legislators to introduce, cosponsor and vote in favor of a bill in the next legislative session that would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for all workers in the state.
  • Ensure that Domestic Abusers Do Not Have Access to Guns

    Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence. 


    There is now legislation in both houses of Congress to close those loopholes. In the House of Representatives, Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and Robert Dold (R-IL-10) introduced the 
    Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3130). The bills, which are identical except for their titles, extend domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

    Protecting all women from gun violence

  • Protect LGBT People from Discrimination

    BACKGROUND:

    Currently, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face discrimination in a wide variety of areas. Most states do not have laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination and there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit, and jury selection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    The Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858) will address this issue by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. By building upon decades of civil rights legislation that have tangibly reduced discrimination, the Equality Act will significantly reduce the amount of discrimination LGBT people face and will provide an avenue for recourse for victims of discrimination. This bill will provide the same protections to LGBT people that are provided to other protected groups under federal law and will strengthen existing civil rights laws by expanding the definition of public accommodations and ensuring that people are protected from sex discrimination in public accommodations and federal funding.

    JEWISH VALUES:

    Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). The belief that the stamp of the divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism and teaches us that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person because of their identity.

    MORE INFORMATION:

    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tracy Wolf at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's LGBT Rights issue page. In addition to sending an email through our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

  • Letter Supporting the Reproductive FACT Act in California.

    Brief Description

  • This July, Tell Congress To Raise the Wage

     The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for six years now. That’s barely $15,000 a year for a full-time worker—literally a poverty wage.

    Rita, a worker who juggles two low-wage jobs, toldThe New York Times, “I need to make a decision to buy clothes, or pay the rent or pay my cellphone bill.”

    Tens of millions of working men and women, like Rita, are putting in long hours and often working multiple jobs, yet they still can’t afford life’s basics. That is unacceptable!

    July 24 marks the six-year anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage. It is long past time that Congress acted to raise wages for tens of millions of America’s workers.

    Thankfully, this year, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott (VA) introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which wouldbenefit 35 million workers by gradually raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020.

    Two critical components of the Raise the Wage Act are that it establishes automatic increases in the minimum wage starting in 2021 to keep pace with rising wages overall, and it eliminates the paltry $2.13 subminimum wage for tipped workers.

    Stand with 35 million workers by calling on Congress to pass the Raise the Wage Act now!


  • Protect Civil Rights in Education

    The reauthorization of the main education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is currently being debated in the Senate. Among the amendments to the bill being debated are one prohibiting discrimination against LGBT students in public schools and one allowing taxpayer dollars to fund private, religious education through a voucher program. Tell your senators to support LGBT students and oppose a voucher program.

    Background information:

    The Senate is currently debating reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main law overseeing our public education system. Among the amendments Senators are considering is one that would expand a school voucher program adding even more stress and challenge to struggling schools. While a small number of students might be able to attend a different school under this voucher amendment, significantly more students would still be in an under-resourced school that would be even more disadvantaged. At the same time, students who receive a voucher could use that money to pay for private, parochial education – threatening the First Amendment’s separation of church and state.  Vouchers are poor public policy.

    The Senate is also considering an amendment to the ESEA that would protect students from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, federal law only explicitly protects students from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.  Anti-LGBT discrimination in education takes many forms, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (S.Amdt.2093) would address this issue by explicitly prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or their association with LGBT people.

    More information:

    For more information on the Student Non-Discrimination Act, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Jordan Dashow at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's LGBT Rights issue page. In addition to sending an email through our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

    For more information on school vouchers, please contact Senior Legislative Assistant Sarah Greenberg at 202-387-2800. For more information about the Reform Movement and vouchers, click here.

  • Expand Health Services for the Critically Ill

    Americans are living longer today than they have before in the history of the United States, yet people with advanced illnesses face a complicated and fragmented system of care delivery. Urge Congress to pass the Care Planning Act (S. 1549) to extend coverage of advance planning services to critically ill Medicare patients.

    Background

    Americans are living longer today than they have before in the history of the United States, yet people with advanced illnesses face a complicated and fragmented system of care delivery that can put them at risk for additional adverse results. Consequently, many people with advanced illnesses do not fully understand their condition or treatment options and are therefore unable to document their desires, especially in case they lose the ability to make health care decision.

    The Care Planning Act (S. 1549) would amend the Social Security Act to extend coverage of advance planning services to critically ill Medicare recipients, ensuring their healthcare preferences are honored. These services would be delivered by an interdisciplinary team who would work together to meet the physical, medical, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual needs of both the patients and the caregivers. For example, this team would help assist patients in defining and articulating goals of care, values and preferences as well as discussing and evaluating how a range of treatment options align with these goals. Services such as these ensure dignity for all people, particularly for many of those most vulnerable in our communities, at a time when they and their families need it most.

    Jewish values

    Pikuach nefesh, the preservation of life, is of paramount importance in Jewish tradition. This commandment most often points us toward intervention to alleviate suffering, including a physician’s  moral obligation to treat a sick person. Providing the coverage necessary to ensure all patients have the professional guidance and services in order to plan their treatments in accordance with their preferences and values speaks to this Jewish value, and must be safeguarded by our healthcare system.

    More information:
    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Jordan Dashow at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's health cares issue page. In addition to sending an email through our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

  • Protect LGBT Students from Discrimination

    Every student should be entitled to a public education, free of bullying. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students continue to face discrimination in education. Urge congress to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) in order to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in public schools.

    Background information:

    Currently, federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and disability However, no federal law explicitly protects students from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or their association with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Anti-LGBT discrimination in education takes many forms, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence, and often times, LGBT students are denied equal educational opportunities. A recent study found that 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846/S. 439) would address this issue by explicitly prohibiting public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or their association with LGBT people.

    Jewish values & LGBT discrimination:

    Judaism teaches that all human beings are created b'tselem Elohim – in the Divine image. Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created humans in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them.” This belief that the stamp of the divine is present in all humans is fundamental to Reform Judaism; we cannot tolerate discrimination against or bullying of any person for any reason. Moreover, the Torah instructs, “do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds” (Leviticus 19:16). We must work to make life better for LGBT youth and end the harassment and discrimination that they face in our schools.

    More information:

    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Jordan Dashow at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's LGBT Rights issue page. In addition to sending an email through our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

  • Save the Whales

     

  • Protect Access to Sexuality Education and Family Planning!

    BACKGROUND

    As Congress works to set the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2016, House and Senate subcommittees 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 comprehensive sexuality education, this bill would leave millions of Americans without information and services to keep themselves safe and healthy.

    Proposed bills from each chamber eliminate funding for Title X family planning centers, which have long enabled low-income individuals to access quality health care. These cuts 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.

    The appropriations proposals also slash funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), an evidence-based program shown to reduce teen pregnancy rates. In addition, the proposals multiply 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.

    Contact your Senators and Representative today to urge them to protect robust funding for comprehensive sex education and family planning services!

  • Urge Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act

    Show your support for voting rights for all by signing a letter to Congressman Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to take action to protect voters and restore the Voting Rights Act. On Thursday, June 25th, Rabbis Michael Namath (RAC Program Director) and Kathy Cohen (Temple Emanuel, Roanoke, VA) will share this letter when they speak to hundreds in Roanoke, VA at a rally to commemorate the 2 year anniversary of Shelby County v. Holder and urge Congress to act. 

  • Improve Access to Justice for Servicewomen

    Background

    Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Shaheen (D-NH) have offered amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 to improve justice for servicewomen by reforming the sexual assault adjudication process and by allowing service members to use their own funds to pay for an abortion at a military treatment facility.

    Take action today; urge your Senators to support these amendments to give our service members better access to the justice and care they deserve.

    Women in the United States armed forces

  • End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers!

    Background

    The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would require employers to provide reasonable, temporary accommodations to pregnant workers so that they can remain in the workforce throughout their pregnancy. These accommodations could range from reassigning a worker to a desk job if her usual job requires heavy lifting, to allowing someone to carry a water bottle on the sales floor, to accommodating a person’s need for regular pre-natal medical visits.
    Pregnant workers who do not have the protection of pregnancy accommodations face unpaid leave, lost benefits, or even termination, placing them in the agonizing position to choose between protecting the health of their pregnancy and continuing to work to support themselves and their families. Especially in the time before welcoming a new child to the family, it’s reprehensible that women are faced with this impossible choice.

    Take action today; urge your Senators and Representative to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

  • Support Church-State Separation and Public Education

    An Empire State of Tzedek RJV logoThe New York State legislature is considering an education tax credit – the Parental Choice in Education Act – that would allow taxpayer dollars to support private, parochial education.

    As Reform Jews, we believe firmly that public funds should support public education, and we believe as well in the separation of church and state, both principles compromised by this proposal.

  • Expand Gun Violence Protections for Victims of Domestic Abuse

    Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence.

    There is now legislation in both houses of Congress to close those loopholes. In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has introduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1520), while in the House of Representatives, Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and Robert Dold (R-IL-10) introduced the 
    Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3130). The bills, which are identical except for their titles, extend domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

    Protecting all women from gun violence

  • Support Public Education in East Ramapo

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    Recently, Henry Greenberg, New York State monitor to the East Ramapo Central School District, reported that children attending East Ramapo public schools are not receiving fair, equitable and just access to educational opportunities. Jewish values call on us to cherish education and pursue justice, and both are at risk for the children attending public school in East Ramapo.

  • Support Paid Sick Days for Working Families

    There are few social justice issues today that cut across a broad range of issue areas including economic justice, labor rights, women’s equality, working families, and public health, like the need for workers to earn paid sick days: . The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 932/S. 497), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray, would require employers with 15 or more workers scheduled to work each day to permit employees to earn up to 7 job-protected paid sick days every year.

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would pass paid sick days nationwide and support working families.

  • Tell Congress You Support the Green Climate Fund for Vulnerable Populations!

    Ask your Senators and Representative to introduce and support legislation to provide $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund and help the poorest populations globally adapt to climate change and mitigate further climate disruption.

     

  • Support Paid Sick Days for Working Families

    There are few social justice issues today that cut across a broad range of issue areas like paid sick days: economic justice, labor rights, women’s equality, working families, and public health. The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 932/S. 497), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray, would require employers with 15 or more workers scheduled to work each day to permit employees to earn up to 7 job-protected paid sick days every year.

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would pass paid sick days nationwide and support working families.

  • Stand with NFTY Against Gun Violence


    More than 30,000 people die from gun violence in the United States each year. NFTY and the Reform Movement across North America are outraged by the ongoing lack of action addressing this epidemic.

    As a student, it is appalling that there have been 93 additional school shootings since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—one every eight days—and yet so little action has been done to make our schools and communities safer. The Torah commands us to not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). In the face of such tragedy, the failure to act is unacceptable. 

  • Expand Gun Violence Protections for Victims of Domestic Abuse


    Background

    Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. People under temporary restraining orders can still possess guns under federal law, even though perpetrators of domestic violence are at their most dangerous during the time period before a restraining order is made permanent. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence.

    Last Congress, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act (S. 2483), which aimed to close those loopholes. The bill would have extended domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns. Senator Blumenthal is expected to re-introduce a similar bill in this Congress.

  • Reform CA - Support AB 953


    B'yachad - in this together

    AB 953: Law Enforcement and Racial Profiling is coming up for a vote in the Assembly floor during the first week of June. The vote will be close, so we need all hands on deck! Fill out the form below to send a message in support of AB 953 to your own Assembly Member, and help ensure this important measure will pass on to the Senate. 

    Raise your voice and tell them that we are B'yachad: In This Together! 

     

    For more information on this campaign and AB 953, visit the Reform CA webpage or contact the Reform CA team

  • Support Continued Funding for Childrens Health Insurance

    A bipartisan bill to extend funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance coverage to children, and to fix the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. passed the House on March 26, 2015. However, the language codifies an existing ban on the use of federal funds by community health centers for abortions.

    Urge your Member of Congress to support legislation to extend funding for CHIP, while opposing future restrictions on abortion access.

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  • End Pay Discrimination!

    American women today make, on average, 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of color: African American women make 60 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, and for Hispanic women, it's 55 cents. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 862 / H.R. 1619) would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. 

    Urge your Member of Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act by entering your zip code below!

  • Support SNAP Provisions in Federal Budget

     Take action now to tell Congress to keep SNAP strong. Add your name to the petition below to let Congress know that you support SNAP and call on them to oppose budget proposals that would result in increased hunger in America.

  • Support Paid Sick Days in New Jersey!

     New Jersey legislators are considering paid sick leave legislation that has the potential to help workers, employers and all those in New Jersey. Paid sick leave helps ensure that no one must choose between their health or the health of a family member and their financial security. 

    Urge your state legislators to support A. 2354 in the Assembly – the New Jersey Earned Sick and Safe Days Act.

  • Oppose Cuts to Disability Insurance


    In 2016, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is set to become insolvent, resulting in 20% across-the-board cut in benefits to all SSDI beneficiaries. Urge Congress to preserve SSDI benefits by opposing cuts and speedily reallocating funds from the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program Trust Fund to the SSDI Trust Fund as Congress has done in the past.

  • Stand with NFTY for Universal Gun Background Checks


    Tell Congress that you support the reintroduction and passage of the bipartisan proposal to expand background checks to cover all commercial sales, including at gun shows, on the internet, and in classified ads.


  • Oppose Amendments to Defund the President's Executive Actions on Immigration

     

    This week, the Senate will continue to consider legislation that would defund or undo President Obama’s recent immigration executive action and the 2012 measure to defer deportation of undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. This legislation would force millions of families back into the shadows.

    Urge your Senators to vote against any bills or amendments to bills that defund President Obama’s recent immigration executive action and the 2012 measure to defer deportation of undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children.

  • Tell The President To Stop Offshore Drilling!


    President Obama recently put forward a proposal for oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast, areas previously protected from offshore drilling, and expanded drilling off the Gulf of Mexico. Let President Obama know that you oppose offshore drilling because of its potentially negative effect on the environment.




  • Support Paid Sick Days in Maryland!

    Maryland legislators are considering paid sick leave legislation that has the potential to help workers, employers and all Marylanders. Paid sick leave helps ensure that no one must choose between their health or the health of a family member and their financial security. 

    Urge your state legislators to support Senate Bill 40 and H.B 385 – The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

  • Thank President Obama for Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Ask Him to Stop Offshore Drilling, And Urge Congress to Protect The Refuge

    Thank President Obama for releasing the Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with its formal Wilderness recommendation for the Coastal Plain, and let him know that you oppose offshore drilling.

    Urge your Member of Congress to support the Comprehensive Conservation Plan and designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with formal Wilderness protections.

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  • Oppose New Federal Vouchers Legislation

    As the House of Representatives considers the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), it is very likely that a harmful amendment could be introduced that would use taxpayer dollars to fund private education through a voucher program. School vouchers are bad public policy, diverting public money away from public schools and threatening the separation of church and state.

  • Oppose Financial Burdens on Abortion Access!

    Background

    On January 22, 2015, the House of Representatives voted to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 7), a dangerous bill that severely threatens a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health. This bill would prevent women seeking needed health care from using their own, private money to pay for abortion services. Bans on taxpayer funding for abortion also deny women the right to deduct abortion services in their health care tax credit, infringing not only on federally-administered health care plans, but also on privately-run and paid-for plans. This legislation would incentivize lead many private health insurance plans to eliminate abortion coverage altogether, thus dramatically reducing women’s access to safe and affordable abortion services.

  • Clergy: Stand With Women and Girls

    One out of three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates as high as 70% in some countries. Violence against women is a human rights violation that devastates lives, fractures communities, and prevents women from fully contributing to the economic development of their countries. Legislation like the International Violence Against Women Act from the 113th Congress would provide concrete tools to change the circumstances that lead to violence against women and girls.

    Jewish clergy are raising their voices to ask Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill to support U.S. programs around the globe that help prevent violence, support health and survivor services, encourage legal accountability and a change in public attitudes, promote access to economic opportunity and education for women and girls, and support existing similar initiatives worldwide.

    We hope that you will add your name to our growing list of Jewish leaders who want to stop violence against women and girls around the world.

    We made important progress in our advocacy to pass this bill last year, garnering bipartisan support in Congress. Since a new Congress is in session, we have a prime opportunity to pass IVAWA into law—but we need to act now. 

    We will deliver your signature, along with those of other Jewish clergy, to the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to urge our legislators to support IVAWA. 

    Please join us to put your Jewish values into action by honoring the inherent dignity of all people—women who have been beaten, raped and burned in India; hundreds of schoolgirls who have been kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram; and women and girls everywhere who simply want to live their lives without fear, harassment or violence. 

    As our sage Hillel said: If not now, when?

  • Oppose Arbitrary Gestational Limits on Abortion!


    The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 1553 / H.R. 36) would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape or incest or to protect the woman's life. The bill severely limits a woman’s autonomy over her own body and denies her the ability to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience. 1.5% of abortions happen after the 20-week mark; the women and families who need access to these kinds of abortions are often facing desperate circumstances. For example, some birth defects or fetal diseases are undetectable until later in pregnancy, around the 20-week mark.

    The House of Representatives passed this dangerous bill in May 2015, and the Senate is now considering the bill.

    Restrictions on abortion after an arbitrary point in gestation are a threat to reproductive rights and should not become law.

  • Clergy: Take Action and Support East Ramapo Public Education!


    In June 2014, Henry Greenberg was appointed New York State Monitor by Governor Cuomo, Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner King to conduct a comprehensive review of the East Ramapo Central School District.

    In November, Mr. Greenberg reported that the district …had recklessly depleted the district’s reserves, was suffering from fiscal mismanagement, poor governance and a lack of transparency bringing the District to the brink of collapse. He concluded “there is today an immediate crisis; tensions are rising; the heart break and despair are real; there is no time to waste. The time to act is now.”

    Rabbis and cantors in New York state, add your name below to join the petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo:

  • Support Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia!

     For hundreds of thousands of working families in Philadelphia, staying home to take care of their own health or a loved one often means losing much need wages, or even their jobs.

    We can’t leave Philadelphians choosing between their families’ financial stability and their health.

  • Protect LGBT Students from Harassment and Bullying

    Every student should feel safe in American schools. Sadly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth continue to face rampant harassment and bullying. Tell Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help protect our students.

  • Oppose Limits to a Woman's Right to Choose


    Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ-8) has reintroduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), a bill that will prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, with very few exceptions for life of the mother and rape or incest when reported to legal authorities. Urge your Members of Congress to oppose this dangerous bill, which would drastically limit a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health.

  • Oppose Amendments to Defund the President's Executive Actions


    This week, the House of Representatives will consider amendments to the Dept. of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 240) that would defund President Obama’s recent immigration executive action and the 2012 measure to defer deportation of undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children. These amendments seek to undo President Obama’s deferred action programs and force millions of families back into the shadows.

    Urge your Representative to vote against any amendments to the Dept. of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 240) that defund President Obama’s recent immigration executive action and the 2012 measure to defer deportation of undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children.

  • Raise the Minimum Wage!

    Today’s minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation, and too many working families still struggle to keep themselves out of poverty. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour translates to an annual salary of $15,080—below the poverty line for a single parent with one child. It is nearly impossible for many families to make ends meet on the current minimum wage.

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Raise The Wage Act so that working Americans can break free from the cycle of poverty and the nation’s economy can grow stronger.

  • Tell Congress You Support the Green Climate Fund for Vulnerable Populations!


    Green Climate FundThe Green Climate Fund (GCF) is intended to help developing and vulnerable countries address the challenges and negative impacts of climate change like flooding, sea level rise, drought, and decreased crop production.


    More than 30 countries have pledged $10.2 billion to get the fund up and running. In his current budget proposal, President Obama has requested $750 million for the GCF, an increase from his 2016 budget request of $500. To maintain U.S. leadership in addressing the global climate challenge, Congress must approve this request.

    Tell your Senators: $750 million for the Green Climate Fund is essential to combating global climate change.

  • Tell Congress You Support the Green Climate Fund for Vulnerable Populations!

     Background

    This past November, President Obama pledged to give $3 billion to the international Green Climate Fund. The Fund is a centerpiece of new global climate finance initiative designed to help poor countries both mitigate the causes of and adapt to the reality of climate disruption. The fund includes money from both the public and private sectors. The pledge demonstrates a strong commitment to international climate justice and to ensuring that the United States is a leader in the global movement towards adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

    The onus is now on the new Congress to appropriate money to meet President Obama’s pledge for the Green Climate Fund. In the omnibus appropriations bill that passed at the end of December 2015, Congress included language to block climate change-related funding for this year. But that decision can be overturned by the new congress in a show of United States leadership on international climate change adaptation and mitigation.

    Ask your Senators and Representative to introduce and support legislation to provide $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund and help the poorest populations globally adapt to climate change and mitigate further climate disruption.

     

    Jewish values

    As Reform Jews, we are called to be good stewards of our planet and its natural resources, and to protect and lift up the poorest among us at home and around the world. In Biblical commentary, God implores, “Do not destroy my world, for if you do, there will be nobody after you to make it right again;” and in Deuteronomy 15 we are taught that “if there is a needy person among you…you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient.” 

  • Stand with NFTY Against Gun Violence


    More than 30,000 people die from gun violence in the United States each year. NFTY and the Reform Movement across North America are outraged by the ongoing lack of action addressing this epidemic.

    As a student, it is appalling that there have been 93 additional school shootings since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut—one every eight days—and yet so little action has been done to make our schools and communities safer. The Torah commands us to not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). In the face of such tragedy, the failure to act is unacceptable. 

  • Expand Gun Violence Protections for Domestic Abuse Victims


    Background

    Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence.

    Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has proposed the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S.1290), which aims to close those loopholes. The bill would extend domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

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  • Tell Your Mayor: Do Not Stand Idly By on Gun Violence


    Metro IAFThe Reform Movement has partnered with Metro Industrial Areas Foundation to reach out directly to local mayors to ask gun manufacturers to lead reform in their industry. To do this mayors will ask the gun manufacturers to create first-rate networks of dealers that meet high standards of security, record keeping and cooperation with law enforcement and bring child-proof, theft-proof guns to market – along with a variety of other gun safety technologies.

    Ask your mayor to sign onto a Request For Information from gun manufacturers. Send an email now

  • Support The Summer Meals Act of 2015

    According to 2013 data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 49 million Americans lived in a household that faced difficulty affording enough food. One in five, or 15.8 million of these household members, were children. Food insecurity is nationwide and has major impacts on children - previous USDA studies have shown that children who live in food-insecure households have increased risks of developmental and health problems. Studies also link growing up in poverty to obesity later on in life, further demonstrating how important it is for us to ensure that children will not go hungry.

    The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 613 / H.R. 1728), introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), would expand, strengthen, and protect access to the Summer Nutrition Programs, which provide federal funding to serve nutritious foods during the summer break. These programs are especially crucial during the summer break, when low-income children lose access to free and reduced-price school meals that they have during the school year.

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  • Urge Congress to Increase Access to Child Nutrition Programs

    It is time for Congress to authorize child nutrition programs. Millions of children who live in food insecure households rely on these programs for crucial nutrition needs. It is essential that these programs are funded so that children can get the support that they deserve.

    Congress is currently considering– The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (HR 5003). This legislation makes no new significant investments in child nutrition programs while also implementing changes that will decrease access to essential programs.

    Urge your  Representative to oppose The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (HR 5003)  by entering your zip code and information below:

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  • Faithful Call to Address Climate Change

    BACKGROUND

    Lima Climate Change ConferenceThis December 1st to 12th, a major environmental conference will be held in Lima, Peru. The conference will focus on adaptation, mitigation, climate finance, and technology and will convene world leaders from government, finance, business, and civil society to a UN Climate Summit in New York City. This gathering is intended to catalyze climate action as well as mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement at the Paris 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). An international deal is essential to safeguard our planet and the millions of people worldwide who are already suffering the detrimental effects of climate change. The Lima Conference is an important step in the pathway towards meeting that goal. The United States must lead the way, and we as people of faith must call on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to ensure that an international agreement is effective in protecting the most vulnerable populations around the world.

    Climate change threatens all people, especially those around the world who have done the least to cause the problem but suffer the most severe impacts. If we act now, we can not only mitigate the effects of climate change, but build a more just, more sustainable future for ourselves and our children.

  • Protect the Rights of Migrant Children



    Cristian Omar Reyes, age 11In the Torah, we are instructed 36 times to welcome the stranger. As Jews, we have been strangers in unfamiliar lands, seeking refuge and safety in places that were not our homes. Our collective story teaches us to extend our open hands; to provide for the stranger and the poor. We also come from a tradition that prioritizes the protection of children and the promotion of human rights. Therefore, we must take action when we hear stories like those of Cristian, an 11-year old from Honduras (pictured at right), who represents one of the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have fled to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks.

    Cristian’s father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to help her flee to Florida but still has not sent for Cristian. Meanwhile, four additional people were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks. Four other people he knows were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks.

    In 2008, Congress unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Signed into law by President Bush, this legislation ensures that children entering the United States alone who are not from Mexico or Canada are prevented from being sent back quickly to their country of origin. Instead, they must be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, placed in the “least restrictive setting” that is in their “best interest” and given an opportunity to have a hearing in the immigration court system and to consult a lawyer. In essence, the TVPRA grants children the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States with the help of people appropriately trained in dealing with victims of trauma. 

    In reaction to the current humanitarian crisis at our border, some Members of Congress are proposing changes to the TVPRA. These changes would treat migrant children coming from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala the same as those from contiguous countries, thus depriving them of the opportunity to access legal and social assistance that might determine that they qualify for legal relief. As a result, changes to the TVPRA would jeopardize the protection of these children.

    This proposed change requires urgent action. Please use this action alert to urge Members of Congress to oppose rollbacks to the TVPRA. When you enter your information, the letter below will be automatically emailed to your Representative and Senators. 

     


     

  • Support Gun Violence Prevention in Massachusetts

    Background

    The nation and the Bay State have been shocked by incidents of gun violence in the last few years. Since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, there have been 74 school shootings nationwide in addition to recent shootings in Dorchester and Springfield. Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has recently introduced a multipronged gun violence prevention bill as the result of a year-long special commission to study how the Commonwealth can prevent senseless gun deaths.

    The bill that has come out of the special commission—H. 4121, an act relative to the reduction of gun violence—would enact new rules that require all gun purchasers undergo a criminal background check, allow police chiefs to refuse gun licenses for rifles and shotguns to individuals who are known as potentially dangerous and mandate that criminal and mental health records be put into the national criminal background check system (NICS), among other important provisions. Additionally, the bill is respectful of individuals with mental illnesses, reflecting the fact that those with a mental illness are more likely to be hurt by violence than to inflict it. 

  • End Solitary Confinement

     Background:

    The use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails is a form of psychological and physical torture. 80,000 people nationwide are held in solitary confinement, though studies have shown that solitary confinement is associated with a variety of physical and mental illnesses, increases recidivism, and fails to reduce prison violence. The ongoing use of this practice challenges the United States’ commitment to both domestic human rights and international norms.

    Jewish Values:

    Jewish tradition holds that all human beings, including prisoners, are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and therefore must be treated with respect and dignity. As Jews, we must demand an end to the practice of solitary confinement, which degrades human dignity.

    Legislative Update:

    On May 8th, 2014, Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced the Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act of 2014. The bill would confront the use of solitary confinement in the United States by establishing a bipartisan commission to study the impacts of solitary confinement and develop recommendations for national standards for reducing the use of solitary confinement in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities, ensuring proper and humane treatment of prisoners, and imposing penalties on states failing to comply with federal standards. 

    The 113th Congress ended without this bill being passed, but we look forward to similar legislation in the 114th Congress!

    Take Action:

    Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act when it is reintroduced. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.387.2800 or send an e-mail by entering your zip code below. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Claire Shimberg at 202.387.2800.

  • Support Paid Sick Days for Working Families

    There are few social justice issues today that cut across a broad range of issue areas like paid sick days: economic justice, labor rights, women’s equality, working families, and public health. The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 932/S. 497), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray, would require employers with 15 or more workers scheduled to work each day to permit employees to earn up to 7 job-protected paid sick days every year.

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Healthy Families Act, legislation that would pass paid sick days nationwide and support working families.

  • Clergy Letter to Secretary Jeh Johnson: Urging Deferred Action on Deportations


    As clergy and faith leaders, we are called by God to bear witness to God’s command for justice and equal human dignity for all of God’s children. We are appalled by the daily deportation of 1,100 aspiring Americans and the unnecessary separation of families. We are calling on the Administration to provide immediate relief for our families today by expanding deferred action. 

    In Scripture, Queen Esther responds to the suffering of her people by risking her status in the palace — her very life — to ease that suffering and bring about genuine justice. Her uncle, Mordecai, implored her to not remain silent in the face of such suffering, but to speak out, to act, because she had come into such an important position for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14).

    In partnership with the PICO National Network Campaign for Citizenship, we are asking Reform clergy to sign this letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. On Wednesday, June 11, interfaith clergy, including Reform rabbis, will hold a press conference outside the White House urging Secretary Johnson and President Obama to take swift action to end deportations that rip families apart. Please add your name below by Monday, June 9

  • Support the EPA's Clean Power Plan Proposal


    BACKGROUND

    Carbon pollutionOn June 2, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency release a proposal to set the nation’s first ever carbon pollution standards to limit emissions from existing power plants. This new proposal for existing power plants is built to be flexible and work with the efforts states, cities and businesses across the country are already taking to curb climate pollutions.

    Taking steps to meaningfully reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere and mitigate the devastation of climate change is long past due. Power plants are our nation’s largest stationary source of carbon pollution. These newly proposed standards are estimated to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 30% by the year 2030. Now is the time to support the EPA’s new limits on carbon pollution and speak out for climate justice. The EPA will be taking comments on the clean power plan proposal until December 1, 2014.

    TAKE ACTION

    Tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that you support the EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change by creating carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Submit your comment to the EPA today by entering your zip code below. Click inside the text to add your own personal comment.

  • Urge Congress to End the Detention Bed Mandate!
    Background:

    Since 2010, Congress has required the Department of Homeland Security to fill a pre-determined quota of beds each night with immigrant detainees, a directive known as the ‘detention bed mandate.’ As a result of this artificial mandate specified in Congress’ annual appropriations bills, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been required to detain approximately 34,000 immigrants each night in detention facilities. Meeting this arbitrary quota has prompted immigration authorities to detain thousands of undocumented immigrants and even foreign-born, legal U.S. residents eligible for deportation. As immigration authorities reach even deeper into immigrant communities, the effects have been extremely detrimental.

    Jewish Values:

    As Jews, we are concerned about the fate of both the immigrant and the detainee; the detention bed mandate unduly and arbitrarily increases the number of detainees and puts great pressure on immigrant communities. Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Leviticus commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [19:33-34]. This principle permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today, and we affirm our commitment to create the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were so valuable to our own community not so many years ago. We are also taught that all people are treated b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and should be treated with dignity, not arbitrarily and forcibly placed into detention.

    Legislative Update:

    Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) has introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act (H.R.4620), which, among other provisions, requires that the number of detention beds maintained be based solely on detention needs, not an artificial mandate. Crucially, it would also ensure that immigrant detainees are treated in compliance with specified requirements regarding humane treatment, detention facility standards, legal access, and other safeguards.

    Take Action:

    Urge your Representative to support the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act (H.R. 4620). The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email.  For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.

  • Urge Congress to Improve Background Checks


    The recent shooting in Santa Barbara reminds us that we must continue to work to prevent gun violence in America. This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the Thompson-King amendment to improve the Criminal Background Check System and help prevent criminals and the seriously mentally ill from buying guns.

    Use our action alert to urge your Representative to vote in favor of the amendment and help keep our communities safe.

  • Wander No More: Reform CA's Campaign for Affordable Housing


    Wander No MoreIn our Jewish tradition, a mitzvah (commandment) is often preceded by a blessing. Before you share this letter with your legislators, we invite you to join with all of Reform CA in sharing this blessing (see below).

    This action alert tells the California legislature of the dire need to allocate significant funds to affordable housing in California. The letter also makes the case for why building affordable homes near public transit is an important and effective way to allocate cap-and-trade funding. Urge your Senator and Assembly Member to support ongoing, steady state investment in affordable housing

    Learn more about this initiative - including detailed background information on California's housing crisis and how this initiative could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our state - at rac.org/ReformCA.

  • Rabbis Organizing Rabbis - Pledge to Stand with Ruth

    Shavuot Immigration Advocacy 


    Will you stand with Ruth?
     

    On this Shavuot, we recommit ourselves to working with the modern-day strangers among us. On this Shavuot, ROR stands with Ruth – and so can you!

    After you have pledged yes, join ROR in spreading the campaign message on social media by changing your profile picture to our "We Stand With Ruth" icon

  • Support Public Schools in Rockland County, NY


    The East Ramapo School District in Rockland County, NY includes a large Orthodox Haredi community and a large black and Hispanic immigrant community. The East Ramapo School Board is composed of 70% Haredi members, even though most Haredi children in this school district attend private yeshivas and most black and Hispanic children attend the public schools.

    While this arrangement is legal and the members of the School Board appear to have won their elections fairly, recent actions have called the Board’s motives and actions into question. In the last few years, many classes, extracurricular activities and staff have been cut at the local public schools. There are also accusations of the School Board selling public school buildings to yeshivas at below market rate and sending Haredi children to yeshivas using public money by illegally exploiting special education laws.

    While many of these accusations are currently being debated in federal court, hundreds of children can no longer graduate public high school in four years and are receiving inadequate educations based on severely limited resources. In light of this situation, interfaith leaders have formed Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, an organization pushing for state intervention in the school district. Additionally, Uri L’Tzedek—an Orthodox social justice organization—has created the following petition asking Governor Cuomo to intervene.

    We ask you to add your name to the petition below, as this situation has created growing anti-Semitic sentiment and deprived children of an adequate education.

  • Support Housing for Low-Income Families!

    Due to overwhelming housing costs, many Americans are just one accident, illness or layoff away from becoming homeless. Congress created the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) in 2008 to create millions of affordable housing units and help stem this growing problem. However, due to a loophole in the law, the NHTF has never received funding and it’s time to look for alternatives that will make this effort successful.

    Urge your Members of Congress to reestablish robust funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.



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  • Support Housing for Low-Income Families

    Due to overwhelming housing costs, many Americans are just one accident, illness or layoff away from becoming homeless. Congress created the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) in 2008 to create millions of affordable housing units and help stem this growing problem. However, due to a loophole in the law, the NHTF has never received funding and it’s time to look for alternatives that will make this effort successful.

    In Isaiah 58:7, we are taught to “Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.” Please urge your Members of Congress and the director of the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) to reestablish robust funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.

  • Support Sentencing Reform

     Background

    On February 12, 2015, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 (S.502/H.R.920), a bill aimed at reforming federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The bill would create fairer sentencing laws, make the federal criminal justice system more cost-effective and improve public safety.

    The Smarter Sentencing Act would help restore judicial discretion, lessen racial disparities and serve to bring about a less retributive criminal justice system. The bill would modernize federal drug sentencing policies by giving federal judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of non-violent drug offenses, recognizing that our mandatory five-, 10- and 20-year sentences for many drug offenders are too often applied to nonviolent, low-level or drug-addicted offenders. The bill also expands the “safety valve” that can give judges discretion to impose sentences below mandatory minimum levels when appropriate. Additionally, the bill would correct a lingering injustice by allowing certain inmates sentenced under the pre-Fair Sentencing Act sentencing regime to petition for sentence reductions consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act and current law. The bill would reduce overcrowding in our prisons nationwide and improve public safety by allowing law enforcement to focus resources on the most dangerous criminals.

  • Reform Rabbis: Support for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

    The Reform Movement has long been outspoken in support of the State of Israel and the peace process and numerous resolutions have been passed expressing that support (available below).

    This long-standing policy leads us to affirm the goal of current U.S. efforts to assist Israel and Palestinians to achieve a peace agreement based on a two-state solution recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and addressing Palestinian national aspirations. We believe it is important and timely to speak out in support of the peace process, and we invite you to do so by joining us in a letter to Secretary Kerry, expressing support for his steadfast efforts.  

  • Support Housing for Low-Income Families
    BACKGROUND

    The National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) was created in 2008 with the purpose of providing funds to build, rehabilitate, and repair affordable housing units for low-income people. At least 75% of the fund’s resources must produce or preserve housing affordable to extremely low income people. This was the first new housing production program since 1990 and the only one focused on housing for those with the lowest incomes.

    Unfortunately, the Fund was set to receive money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which can no longer supply sufficient funds. As a result, funding has been scarce. Multiple efforts to provide funding last year failed to pass in both chambers of Congress. Legislators must work to include additional funds for the program in legislation introduced during the 113th Congress.

    JEWISH VALUES

    In Isaiah 58:7 we are taught to “Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.” Jewish tradition teaches that it is greater to help a person become self-sufficient than it is to give the person a hand-out.   Housing is a foundation upon which self-sufficiency can be built. Without a place to live, a person cannot begin to take charge of his or her life.

    TAKE ACTION

    Urge your Representative and Senators to introduce and pass legislation that would provide funding for the National Housing Trust Fund. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an e-mail by entering your zip code below. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Howie Levine at 202.387.2800.

  • Oppose New Efforts to Enact Nationwide Private School Vouchers



    Background

    School vouchers privatize taxpayer funding for public education. At risk to be reintroduced in the 114th Congress are two bills that exemplify the ways that school vouchers harm public education:

    • The Scholarships for Kids Act (S. 1968/H.R. 4000) would turn 63% of federal education funding into private school vouchers by obliterating Title I funding, which supports struggling and low-income school districts. Federal support for education would have been sent to private schools instead of public school districts that serve all children.

    • The Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education Act (S. 1909/H.R. 4773) or the “CHOICE Act” would redirect Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds to private school vouchers, create vouchers for students from military families, and expand the D.C. voucher program. These two bills together would have turned a significant amount of federal education funds into vouchers.

    Urge your senators and representative to oppose these harmful voucher legislation and ensure that all students have access to quality public education.

  • Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights


    On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder  invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act. In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decision, many states have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box, by introducing--and in many cases passing restrictive voting laws. 

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 1659 / H.R. 2867), which would help restore protections against these restrictive voting laws.

  • Renew Unemployment Insurance!

    Due to inaction by Congress, federal unemployment benefits abruptly expired the week of January 1, 2014. Over 3 million jobless Americans are now without unemployment insurance (UI) and nearly another million Americans will lose unemployment insurance in the next three months. Failure to extend UI has plunged millions into poverty and comes as the unemployment rate is at an elevated 7%—and would likely rise as high as 14% if it included Americans who have stopped looking for work altogether or can only find part-time work.

    We are told in Proverbs 31:9, to "speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy." Urge your Members of Congress to protect America’s unemployed and extend emergency unemployment benefits.

  • Expand Background Checks

    Faiths Calling December 13Tell Congress that you support the bipartisan proposals to expand background checks to cover all commercial sales, including gun shows and classifieds (S.AMDT. 715/H.R. 1565).

    Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago, 11,000 more Americans have been killed by gun violence. Yet we still do not have a federal law that requires any background check before private, online, and gun show purchases of firearms. This week, in remembrance of the victims of Newtown, CT,
    join interfaith voices from coast to coast on December 13 to urge your Senators to support background checks and common-sense gun violence prevention.

    Contact your Senators through our action alert below to remind them that the majority of Americans support universal background checks, and add your voice this Friday in our call-in campaign!

    Text Fill out the reminder form to join the call-in 
    Email your Senator through our action alertVisit faithscalling.org

  • Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    BACKGROUND:

    Today, we face the enormous challenges posed by our nation's broken immigration system. Over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of our communities across the country. Families face up to decades long backlogs in acquiring visas, workers are left without protections, and children are left behind as parents are deported. We can no longer delay comprehensive reform of our immigration system based on streamlined processing, a commitment to obey the rule of law, payment of taxes owed, family reunification, and a path to citizenship.

  • Support Provisions on Guantanamo in the National Defense Authorization Act


    Background

    The National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197) is an annual bill that oversees spending by the Department of Defense. Many different military-related items are included that provide for the safety and security of the nation and the soldiers who defend it, making it a “must-pass” bill.

    Similar to past years, related non-spending provisions are often added to the NDAA and this year, sections 1031, 1032 and 1033, pertain to the transfer of detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay:

    • Section 1031 streamlines the process of transferring detainees if they have been deemed no longer a threat to the United States, or if transfer is in the national security interest of the US;
    • Section 1032 allows for temporary transfer of a detainee for medical treatment when that treatment is required to prevent substantial injury or damage or death, and it would be extremely costly to treat the individual at Guantanamo;
    • Section 1033 reinvigorates the right to trial and permits the transfer of a detainee to US soil for trial in a federal court if it is in the national security interest of the United States.
  • Protect Abortion Rights for Minors


    Background

    Legislation like the Parental Notification and Intervention Act from the 113th Congress severely threatens women’s reproductive rights affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. This bill would require that all minors get written consent from a parent or legal guardian before requesting an abortion, followed by a 96-hour waiting period. Not only does this law have very stringent rules for parental notification, it also has extremely narrow exceptions for medical emergency that threatens the life of the mother, or if there is strong evidence of physical abuse of the young woman by the parent. The bill also fails to provide exceptions for rape or incest, or sexual or emotional abuse by the parent. When parents cannot or will not assist a young woman in a time of need, she should not be left without the support and assistance of other trusted adults.

  • End Violence Against Women Around the World


    One out of three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates as high as 70% in some countries. Violence against women is a human rights violation that devastates lives, fractures communities, and prevents women from fully contributing to the economic development of their countries.
    The International Violence Against Women Act would provide concrete tools to change the circumstances that lead to violence against women and girls.

  • Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    BACKGROUND:

    Today, we face the enormous challenges posed by our nation's broken immigration system. Over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the shadows of our communities across the country. Families face up to decades long backlogs in acquiring visas, workers are left without protections, and children are left behind as parents are deported. We can no longer delay comprehensive reform of our immigration system based on streamlined processing, a commitment to obey the rule of law, payment of taxes owed, family reunification, and a path to citizenship.

  • Don't Undermine Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    The House may soon consider the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, H.R. 2278, which would be harmful to our immigration system. The SAFE Act would unwisely delegate the enforcement of our national immigration laws to state and local law enforcement agencies despite demonstrated instances of profiling and a likely weakening of community safety, and it would expand our immigrant detention system, which currently holds those seeking protection in the U.S., including many torture survivors, asylum seekers, and others. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today, and we affirm our commitment to create the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were so valuable to our own community not so many years ago.  

    Urge your Representatives to oppose the SAFE Act and instead support immigration reform that is truly comprehensive, and reflects our values as Americans and as Reform Jews.

  • Jewish Clergy Letter for Immigration Reform


    During this High Holy Days season of reflection and contemplation, please join Jewish clergy from across the denominational spectrum to call on Congress to swiftly enact commonsense immigration reform legislation. Together, we can honor our country’s history as a nation of immigrants and our Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger. 

    Central Conference of American Rabbis  The Rabbinical Assembly  Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

  • California Clergy Sign-on Letter to Governor Brown
  • Excellence in Mental Health Act

     

    Individuals suffering from mental health challenges deal not just with their illness, but also with the social stigma attached to people with mental illnesses. While society often goes to great lengths to accommodate and include people with physical illness – treating them with solicitude and concern, persons with mental illness are too frequently the objects of ridicule, contempt, or fear.  Last Congress, the Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 264 / H.R. 1263) eas introduced to address these challenges. The Excellence in Mental Health Act would create criteria for establishing community behavioral health centers, make such centers eligible for payments for services under Medicaid, and award matching grants to states or Indian tribes to expend funds for the construction or modernization of facilities used to provide community-based mental health and substance abuse services to individuals.

  • Support the Women's Equality Agenda

    BACKGROUND:
    During his 2013 and 2014 State of the State addresses, Governor Cuomo outlined and promoted a groundbreaking ten-point plan called the Women's Equality Agenda meant to ensure women's full participation in society and protect their health and well-being. On June 4, 2013 the Governor's proposal was unveiled to the public. The plan addresses:

    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Protection from sexual harassment in the workplace
    • Equitable restitution for discrimination
    • Protection from human trafficking
    • Safeguards from discrimination against families
    • Protection from tenant discrimination
    • Fair treatment when buying, renting or leasing housing
    • Protection from pregnancy discrimination in employment
    • Safety when seeking an order of protection against domestic violence
    • Protection of reproductive healthcare decisions

    All of these issues are key components to giving women control over their lives and future, as well as economic security.  More than 850 organizations have joined together to support this plan, including Reform Jewish Voice of New York State. In June, the Assembly passed all ten points of the Governor's plan as an omnibus bill but the Senate took up each point as different bills and passed all but the reproductive health piece. 

    JEWISH VALUES:

    All life is sacred in Judaism. Although an unborn fetus is precious and to be protected, Judaism views the life and well-being of the mother as paramount, placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life. The URJ has continuously reaffirmed its commitment to reproductive health with resolutions in 1967,
     1975, 1981, and 1990, stating in 1975 that "in any decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, the individual family or woman must weigh the tradition as she struggles to formulate her own religious and moral criteria to reach her own personal decision....We oppose all constitutional amendments that would abridge or circumscribe this right."

    The URJ affirmed its commitment to pay equality with a resolution in
     1985 stating that "Reform Judaism has a profound commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity for all persons… Women in predominantly female jobs that, even according to any employers' own specific guidelines, are similar in skill, effort, and responsibility to those of men in traditional male jobs should be compensated with fairness and equity in those jobs" and the URJ "supports legislation calling for job evaluation studies and appropriate remedial actions on the federal, state, and municipal levels."


    TAKE ACTION:
     
    Urge your legislators to support the Women's Equality Agenda through the form below. For more information, please contact Legislative Associate Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800. 

     

  • Support Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness


    Conservation is one of the best things we can do to protect the environment and mitigate the root causes of climate change. This Earth Day is an opportunity to focus on environmental issues that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.

    Programs like EnergyStar have successfully helped small businesses, families, and even congregations reduce their energy consumption and use energy more efficiently by purchasing energy efficient products.  However, there have been notably fewer efforts to make energy production and industrial facilities more energy efficient. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 720) would increase the efficiency of the energy used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, while also creating jobs.

    Tell your member of Congress to support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by filling out our form below

  • Expand Community-Based Care and Improve Outcomes for Seniors and People with Disabilities

    The Community First Choice option expands access to home- and community-based care in your state, leading to better health outcomes for older adults and individuals with disabilities. We are taught in Pirkei Avot to not separate ourselves from the community, but too often people with disabilities are forced to do just that. Urge your governor and state legislators to implement this option, allowing increased matching funds for more services to more people. 

  • Support the TRUST Act


    Reform CA: Take Action on the TRUST Act Now

    The TRUST Act passed the state Assembly 42-20 and is on to the Senate! Your elected officials heard your voices - but we can't stop now. Send a letter to your State Senator and the Governor with the message that we stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters in California.

    Background

    Pass the TRUST Act Now!California currently participates in the "Secure Communities" program, which holds for deportation any undocumented immigrant who has been arrested. The program has become an indiscriminate mass deportation program - 7 out of 10 Californians deported had no prior convictions or prior convictions for only minor offenses (such as selling street food without a permit). 

    The TRUST Act, AB4 would permit immigration detainments only if the individual has a serious or violent felony conviction. This solution would protect battered spouses, vulnerable employees, individuals who report crimes, and others; strengthen local law enforcement's ability to protect our neighborhoods; and save California taxpayers million of dollars.
    Learn more here, and follow the steps below to contact your elected officials! 

  • Jewish Clergy Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

    For years the Boy Scouts of America has maintained a policy that excludes gay scouts and scout leaders from its ranks. Later this month the Boy Scouts National Council will consider a proposal to lift the ban on gay youth but uphold its policy of prohibiting LGBT adults from serving in the organization. Every individual, youth and adults, is created in the image of God. Join Jewish clergy nationwide in signing this letter to the Boy Scouts of America that calls for inclusion and equality.

  • Support the TRUST Act


    Reform CA: Take Action on the TRUST Act Now

    Reform California is a joint project of the CCAR's Peace & Justice Committee, the URJ's Just Congregations, and the Religious Action Center mobilizing clergy and the California Reform Movement to pass the TRUST Act. Take action here to send an email to your California State Senator, or join our Call-In Day to Governor Jerry Brown:

    Pass the TRUST Act Now!

    Will you call Governor Jerry Brown August 22? Tell him that you support the strongest TRUST Act possible to protect immigrants in California.

    Register to receive call-in instructions or email updates:

    Text  Click to join our email list
      

    Your phone call could double the number of families protected by the bill. We have heard powerful immigration stories, and we have told those of our own families and friends. We have written letters. We have testified, lobbied, and moved our legislators. Now it is time to raise our voices to speak truth to the Governor. 

    Background on the TRUST Act

    California currently participates in the "Secure Communities" program, which holds for deportation any undocumented immigrant who has been arrested. Although Secure Communities was intended to target undocumented immigrants with criminal records, the program has become an indiscriminate mass deportation program - 7 out of 10 Californians deported had no prior convictions or prior convictions for only minor offenses (such as selling street food without a permit). Across our entire nation, 11 million undocumented immigrants are forced into the shadows of society, families are torn apart for up to decades at a time, and domestic security is undermined as a result of mistrust between immigrants and local law enforcement.

    The TRUST Act, AB4 (introduced by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano) addresses these problems in a simple, straightforward manner by setting a clear statewide standard to permit immigration detainers only if the individual has a serious or violent felony conviction. This solution would protect battered spouses, vulnerable employees, individuals who report crimes, and others; strengthen local law enforcement's ability to protect our neighborhoods; and save California taxpayers million of dollars.

    Learn more about the
    TRUST Act here and follow the steps below to contact your elected officials! 

  • Support Fair Elections for New York

    Background

    Supporters of campaign finance reform argue that big donations afford the influence that comes with big money, away from “average” voters who cannot afford to make large donations, while opponents affirm that money is a form of expression that is protected by the United States Constitution.

    Clean money campaign financing systems, including voluntary public financing of elections, do exist in a number of states. Most proposals for such a system require candidates to collect, during a defined qualifying period, a prescribed number of signatures and $5-100 qualifying contributions from registered voters in their state or district. Candidates would agree not to raise or spend private money during the primary and general election campaign periods and receive a set amount of money or matching funds from the clean money fund and will typically also receive a media voucher.

    New York State campaign contribution limits are high and disclosure requirements and enforcement of the laws are lax. Gov. Cuomo pledged in his 2013 State of the State address to introduce legislation to create a public funding option for New York state elections based on the New York City model, which is a multiple match program that boosts the impact of small donations by matching up to $175 of each contribution at a six-to-one ratio.  The New York City program provides money to candidates who accept expenditure limits and enhanced disclosure. He also discussed lower contribution limits, enacting “pay-to-play” rules, and improving the enforcement of the state’s campaign finance and election laws. 

    Jewish Values

    Both the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) have resolutions strongly supporting campaign finance reform.  These resolutions are based largely on the warnings in our ancient texts about the dangers of mixing money and politics.  Deuteronomy 16:19 states, "You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take gifts, for gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just."

    jkraus@rac.org

  • Support the Women's Equality Agenda

    BACKGROUND:
    During his State of the State addresses in 2013 and 2014, Governor Cuomo discussed a groundbreaking ten-point plan called the Women’s Equality Act meant to ensure women’s full participation in society and protect their health and well-being. The plan addresses:

    •  Equal pay for equal work
    • Protection from sexual harassment in the workplace
    • Equitable restitution for discrimination
    • Protection from human trafficking
    • Safeguards from discrimination against families
    • Protection from tenant discrimination
    • Fair treatment when buying, renting or leasing housing
    • Protection from pregnancy discrimination in employment
    • Safety when seeking an order of protection against domestic violence
    • Protection of reproductive healthcare decisions

    All of these issues are key components to giving women control over their lives and future, as well as economic security.  No bill has been introduced in the Assembly or the Senate addressing all ten points of this agenda, but there are more than 800 organizations that have joined together to support this plan, including Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

    JEWISH VALUES:
    All life is sacred in Judaism. Although an unborn fetus is precious and to be protected, Judaism views the life and well-being of the mother as paramount, placing a higher value on existing life than on potential life. The URJ has continuously reaffirmed its commitment to reproductive health with resolutions in 1967, 1975, 1981, and 1990, stating in 1975 that "in any decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, the individual family or woman must weigh the tradition as she struggles to formulate her own religious and moral criteria to reach her own personal decision....We oppose all constitutional amendments that would abridge or circumscribe this right."

    The URJ affirmed its commitment to pay equality with a resolution in 1985 stating that "Reform Judaism has a profound commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity for all persons… Women in predominantly female jobs that, even according to any employers' own specific guidelines, are similar in skill, effort, and responsibility to those of men in traditional male jobs should be compensated with fairness and equity in those jobs” and the URJ “supports legislation calling for job evaluation studies and appropriate remedial actions on the federal, state, and municipal levels.”

    TAKE ACTION: 
    Urge your Assembly Member and Senator to support the Women’s Equality Agenda. For more information, please contact Program Associate 
    Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800. 

  • Comprehensive Climate Change Legislation Now!

    BACKGROUND AND JEWISH VALUES:

    It is time for comprehensive climate and energy legislation that meets scientific standards to reduce global warming pollution and jumpstarts the transition to a sustainable energy future; creates pathways out of poverty through good, green jobs; and ensures that the most vulnerable communities around the world – those who contribute the least to the problem – are protected from the effects of climate change.

    Despite mounting scientific evidence of climate change, growing popular consensus that the government needs to lead, and increasingly costly disruptions to the economy, Congress has not taken action on climate change. Instead, we inch closer to the climate cliff beyond which our ecosystems may be completely unable to recover. It is time for Congress to enact comprehensive climate legislation!

    As Jews, we are called to be good stewards of God’s earth and its natural resources, and to ensure that the most vulnerable among us can not only survive but better their lives. Comprehensive climate and energy policy, which ensures the continued health of our environment for future generations, and protects the poor from the effects of both climate change and new climate and energy policies, upholds both of these values.

    TAKE ACTION:
    Urge your members of Congress to support passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email by entering your zip code below. For more information, contact Legislative
    Assistant Zachary Rosenberg at 202.387.2800.

  • Senate: Comprehensive Climate Change Legislation Now!

    BACKGROUND AND JEWISH VALUES:

    It is time for comprehensive climate and energy legislation that meets scientific standards to reduce global warming pollution and jumpstarts the transition to a sustainable energy future; creates pathways out of poverty through good, green jobs; and ensures that the most vulnerable communities around the world – those who contribute the least to the problem – are protected from the effects of climate change.

    Despite mounting scientific evidence of climate change, growing popular consensus that the government needs to lead, and increasingly costly disruptions to the economy, Congress has not taken action on climate change. Instead, we inch closer to the climate cliff beyond which our ecosystems may be completely unable to recover. It is time for Congress to enact comprehensive climate legislation!

    As Jews, we are called to be good stewards of God’s earth and its natural resources, and to ensure that the most vulnerable among us can not only survive but better their lives. Comprehensive climate and energy policy, which ensures the continued health of our environment for future generations, and protects the poor from the effects of both climate change and new climate and energy policies, upholds both of these values.

    TAKE ACTION:
    Urge your members of Congress to support passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email by entering your zip code below. For more information, contact Legislative
    Assistant Zachary Rosenberg at 202.387.2800.

  • Support Sensible Gun Violence Prevention


    Background

    Over 30,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence. The number and severity of violent shootings in recent years can only be described as an epidemic. It is imperative that President Obama and Congress require background checks for all gun sales and advance other common sense gun violence prevention measures.

    As if the United States needed one more reminder about the epidemic nature of gun violence, we have seen more than 70 mass shootings since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. Most recently, we witnessed the tragic shooting of 20 young children and eight adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Each year, more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence. Each day, more than 80 fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, family and friends are killed as a result of our inability to advance common-sense regulations.

    As we continue to mourn the lives of those murdered, it is our collective responsibility to advance sensible gun-laws aimed at curbing future violence and Congress must act swiftly.

    Jewish Values

    Jewish tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of human life. The Bible commands us, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Talmud teaches us that “he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe, and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

    Scripture encourages peaceful pursuit of our mutual welfare. Isaiah exhorts the people of the earth to “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4). We also are commanded to turn weapons of destruction into tools for the greater good of society.

    Take Action


    Ask your Members of Congress to advance sensible gun laws. To reach your Members of Congress, call the Capital Switchboard at 202.224.3121. 

    For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Mikey Pasek at mpasek@rac.org or 202.387.2800

     

  • Support Foreign Aid for Israel


    As the tumult in the Middle East continues, a strong U.S. ally in the region is more important than ever.  The Senate may soon consider the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. The bill includes more than $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel, reflecting the 10-year aid agreement signed by the two nations in 2007.  Aid to Israel is an investment in U.S. security and Israel’s security; Israel spends a higher percentage of its gross domestic product on its own defense than any other industrialized country in the world. U.S. foreign aid reaffirms our commitment to a democratic ally in the Middle East and gives Israel the military edge to maintain its security and the economic stability to pursue peace. Furthermore, U.S. foreign aid to Israel represents a strong investment in the American economy; Israel spends over 75% of its aid in the United States supporting American jobs.


    Jewish Values

    Throughout the Reform Movement's history, in times of peace and in times of strife, we have spoken out in unequivocal and unconditional support of the State of Israel and her people. This support stems from a love of the land and an understanding that the destinies of the Jewish people and of Israel are intertwined in an unbreakable connection. U.S. aid to Israel, over 75% of which is actually spent on goods from the U.S., strengthens both nations.  Jewish values also teach us that our country should be an advocate for peace among the nations, emphasizing the importance of North American leadership in the peace process. We believe that foreign aid to Israel, as part of a strong foreign aid package overall, is a strong tool to work toward peace.

     

    Take Action: 

    At this critical juncture for the Middle East, we must continue the strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Please contact your Senators and urge them to support aid to Israel in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can send an email below.

     

    For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Deborah Goldberg at 202.387.2800.


  • Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    BACKGROUND:
    Today, we face the enormous challenges posed by our nation's broken immigration system. Over 11 million undocumented immigrants live in our communities across the country. We can no longer delay comprehensive reform of our immigration system based on streamlined processing, a commitment to obey the rule of law, payment of taxes owed, family reunification, and a path to citizenship.


    Comprehensive immigration reform must include:

      •    Reforms in our family-based immigration system to significantly reduce waiting times for separated families, who currently must wait many years to be reunited with loved ones;
      •    Border protection policies that are consistent with American humanitarian values and effective against illegal migration, allowing the authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry into the United States of terrorists and dangerous criminals;
      •    Opportunities for hard-working immigrants who are already contributing to this country to come out of the shadows, regularize their status upon satisfaction of reasonable criteria and, over time, pursue an option to become lawful permanent residents and eventually United States citizens; and
      •    Legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to migrate to the U.S. to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner that meets the needs of employers.


    JEWISH VALUES:

    Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Leviticus commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” [19:33-34]. This principle permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah.

    TAKE ACTION:
    Urge your Senators and representatives to help support comprehensive immigration reform. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email.  For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.

  • Expand Background Checks

    Tell Congress that you support the bipartisan proposals to expand background checks to cover all commercial sales, including gun shows and classifieds (S.AMDT. 715/H.R. 1565).

    The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT is a tragic reminder that over 30,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence. The number and severity of violent shootings in recent years can only be described as an epidemic. We are inspired by a Jewish tradition that emphasizes the sanctity of human life, and commands us to turn weapons of destruction into tools for the greater good of society.

    Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Toomey (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan plan to greatly expand background checks. This same plan was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen King (R-NY) and Thompson (D-CA).  Although the proposal does not cover all gun sales, it promises to close dangerous loopholes that exempt gun shows and online sales from background checks.

    Use the form below to let Congress know that you stand with the 92% of Americans who support expanding background checks!

  • Pass the TRUST Act Now

    A Jewish poet once wrote:

    "Give me your tired, your poor,your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me."

    Reform CA is delighted to launch our first campaign on statewide immigration reform through the California TRUST Act. With Pesach quickly approaching, we are reminded of our own Exodus narrative of journey and wandering, finding ourselves in so many generations the stranger in a strange land. At our seder, we hear our own cry for redemption echo in our charge to care for the stranger in our midst. As Reform Jews and Californians, we seek compassionate and fair laws for our immigrant brothers and sisters who call California home.

    We are working to get thousands of signatures as we demonstrate to our elected officials the strength of the California Reform Movement. Sign our petition now - tell the California Legislature that it's time to pass the TRUST Act and restore stability and security to our immigrant communities.

  • (No Title)


    ROR Immigration Advocacy

    Immigration and the High Holy Days

    Is there a place to preach and teach about compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform in your High Holy Day experience? Join colleagues around the country in using the resources below, with the goal of living as a Reform Jewish community united by our deepest values.

    Modern Jewish History & Immigration Jewish Texts on Immigration

    Sample Immigration Sermons Sample Immigration Op-Eds


    Visit rac.org/immigration for more resources on immigration reform and advocacy


    Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR) is a project of the Reform Movement’s social justice initiatives: the Justice and Peace Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center, and Just Congregations. Through the Rabbis Organizing Rabbis Campaign, we come together as a unified Reform Movement with justice at our core. We seek to build a powerful network of Reform Jews praying with our feet through effective grassroots and legislative action on vital justice issues of our time.

  • Support Anti-Malaria Programs for Global Health


    It is critical that we urge Congress to protect funding for the President's Malaria Initiative (started by President George W. Bush) and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during the next round of budget debates.  We also urge members of Congress to join the Malaria and Other Neglected Tropical Disease Caucus as a way to learn more about this disease, its economic and social burden, and how the U.S. government has led and can continue to lead this fight. 

    Contact your members of Congress and ask them to robustly support the President's Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund.

  • Save the Whales 2013

    Save the whales. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed rhoncus aliquam pellentesque. Nunc vitae urna quis velit tristique condimentum eu vel risus. Vivamus mauris ante, interdum cursus viverra sit amet, malesuada nec velit. Nullam ultricies nisl sit amet urna pharetra ut facilisis magna commodo. Pellentesque interdum, felis sit amet feugiat fringilla, lacus est elementum nunc, sed dignissim quam enim id purus. Etiam fringilla massa id nibh placerat sit amet feugiat ligula condimentum. Sed et velit dui. Integer justo est, pellentesque sed malesuada eget, bibendum vitae arcu. Praesent sed leo vel urna volutpat auctor vitae a magna. 

  • Send Your Sermon to Prevent Gun Violence

    The time to prevent senseless gun violence is now, and as religious leaders, the responsibility to provide moral leadership to achieve that cause is ours.

    How can you help?

    Deliver a sermon and send it to your representatives in Congress and to your state legislators! Rabbis around the country have given inspiring sermons on gun violence. If you have already delivered a sermon on gun violence, you can still send it in! Add your voice and then influence policy by sending your sermon to your representatives in Congress and to your state legislators.

    To get started, enter your zip code below. Once the system targets your representatives, just paste your sermon into the form letter, and send it directly to your representatives!

  • Expand Background Checks

    Tell Congress that you support the bipartisan proposals to expand background checks to cover all commercial sales, including gun shows and classifieds (S.AMDT. 715/H.R. 1565).

  • Close Guantanamo Now

    Despite President Obama’s 2009 executive order calling for swift closure of the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and despite the calls of a broad range of religious, civil liberties and national security groups to put that policy into action, the prison remains open, in large part due to stonewalling by members of Congress. The current draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 now being considered in Congress again includes provisions that would preclude the prison’s closing. The mistreatment of prisoners, such as indefinite detention, is an affront to human dignity and the Jewish principle that we are all created in the divine image, b’tzelem elohim and therefore worthy of dignity. It is time for Congress to remove these restrictions from the NDAA and to allow the prison at Guantanamo to finally close.

  • Urge States to Expand Medicaid

    Basic Background

    The Affordable Care Act includes a provision to expand Medicaid healthcare coverage to anyone under 138% of the poverty line. However, it is at the discretion of each state to decide to implement the expansion. Judaism teaches that healthcare is one of the key services a community is supposed to provide. Send a letter to your governor and state legislators urging them to implement the expansion.

  • Join the Treaty: The U.S. Should Act To Prevent Torture Everywhere

    The Optional Protocols to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) is an international treaty that would commit the US to creating an independent oversight mechanism ensuring that people in the US are not subject to torture, cruelty or inhumane treatment. Jewish values teach us to pursue justice relentlessly; OPCAT will make certain that justice in the United States is carried out fairly and in accordance with our highest values as a nation. Sign this petition and urge the President to sign OPCAT and send it to the Senate for ratification.  

  • Every Voice at the Western Wall

    On October 16th, police intervened as women, including Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and chairwoman of Women of the Wall, prayed at the Kotel (Western Wall). Hoffman was arrested and charged with the “offense” of wearing a prayer shawl and disturbing public order. The Reform Movement issued a statement following Hoffman’s arrest calling on “the government of Israel to remove the ultra-Orthodox authority that oversees the Kotel and ensure the rights of all Jewish people to pray at this holy site, men and women alike.” Add your name to a petition urging the Israeli government to ensure that oversight of the Kotel includes a range of Jewish views and voices and protects gender equality.

  • Stop the Promotion of Dirty Coal

    Background

    The House of Representatives will vote Friday, September 21, on the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act (H.R. 3409).  This harmful bill, a collection of five anti-environmental bills, would among other provisions prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the regulations in the Clean Air and Water Acts to coal-fired power plants. In fact, it effectively prohibits the EPA from putting any new regulations on coal and could be used to roll back existing regulations crucial to curbing the emission of green house gasses. The bill would also prevent the EPA from regulating coal ash and the disposal of other waste from coal-fired power plants.

    Portions of this bill have already passed the House; however, this is the first time they are being packaged together and billed as a job creation effort. Make no mistake, this is an effort to roll back environmental regulations on the dirtiest form of energy currently in use.

    Jewish Values

    As Jews we are called from the earliest verses of Torah to be good stewards of our resources, including water and air, and to protect our natural world. In Midrash we are told “Take care, lest you spoil and destroy my world, because if you do, there is no one after you to make it right again” (Kohelet Rabbah 7:13).

    Take Action

    Call your Representative and tell him/her to vote AGAINST the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act (H.R. 3409) when it comes up for a vote! The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can send an e-mail by entering your zip code below.

    For more information, please contact Legislative Assistant Zachary Rosenberg at 202.387.2800.

  • The Reform Movement Knows: We Are Better Than This

    Each year,100,000 Americans are injured or killed because of gun-related crimes. In recent weeks, too many horrific incidents of gun violence have captured national attention, reflecting the worsening ideological divisiveness, anger and intolerance in our nation, all of which must end. The fact remains that this trend of violence threatens us all and violates the values of respect for others that must be paramount in American civic and political life.

    WeAreBetterThanThis.org was launched after the tragic shooting in Aurora, CO as a platform for a national conversation about the need for sensible gun control laws. The goal of the petition is to spark a conversation about gun control among elected officials, victims’ families, affected communities, law enforcement, and more.  

    Jewish Values

    Jewish tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of human life. The Bible commands us "Thou shalt not murder." The Talmud teaches us that "he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe." In an increasingly impersonal and alienating society, the dehumanizing of the human being and the carelessness with which human life is taken stand in direct violation of these affirmations of our tradition.  

    The URJ has long recognized the need for legislation "that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms" and has called on the United States government to "eliminate the manufacture, importation, advertising, sale, transfer and possession of handguns except for limited instances." (URJ 1975). Over the years, the URJ has spoken out on gun control with particular passion, insisting that gun regulation is "a vital necessity."

    Take Action

    Join the tens of thousands of Americans who have signed petitions urging elected officials to develop a real solution to the gun violence plaguing our country.

  • Raise the Minimum Wage!

    Five years after the official end of the recession, working families still struggle to keep themselves out of poverty. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour translates to an annual salary of $15,080—below the poverty line for a single parent with one child. It is nearly impossible for many families to make ends meet on the current minimum wage. Judaism teaches us that poverty is destructive to human dignity. Urge your Members of Congress to intrdocue legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, index it for inflation, and strengthen the economy for us all.

  • Tell Congress: Support People with Disabilities Worldwide

    Ratify CRPD!

    In July 2009, the United States signed but did not ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). The Convention is based on the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, intended to empower persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens. 

    The need for this treaty is great. Over a billion people across the globe—around 15 percent of the world's population—live with a disability. Urge your Senators to ratify the Convention and support people with disabilities worldwide.

    Watch a video from URJ's Kutz Camp on the importance of supporting people with disabilities worldwide: 



  • Thank President Obama for Common Sense Immigration Reform