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  • 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. 

  • Help Alleviate Poverty and Support Clean Energy

     
    As Congress considers a package of tax breaks, make your voice heard in support of a package that includes provisions that will help lift Americans out of poverty and that will protect our earth. Urge your Senators and Representative to support a tax deal that includes extensions of the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and tax breaks for clean and wind energy.

    Just fill out the information below to send an email to your members of Congress:

  • 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.

  • Join the Clergy Letter in Support of Voting Rights


    The RAC is partnering with Bend the Arc to collect signatures for this petition in support of the Voting Rights Amendment Act. Please fill out the form to sign your name, and circulate it to your clergy colleagues and networks.

    Earlier this year, 88 faith groups (including the Union for Reform Judaism) signed a similar letter to Congress in support of the VRAA. You can view the letter and its signatories here.

    The deadline to sign the letter is 12 p.m. ET on Friday, November 14, 2014

  • SalsaStaff 97124: 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 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 cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R 1010/the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and strengthen the economy for us all.

  • 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 2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

    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.

    That is why it is crucial that the Senate passes the bipartisan Summer Meals Act of 2014 (S. 2527). The bill 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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  • Criminal Justice Transparency Now!

    H.R. 1447
    The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 1447) is crucial legislation that will provide much-needed transparency in the criminal justice system. The law would require and facilitate the collection of information regarding the deaths of prisoners in custody, alleviating the environment of suspicion, concern and mistrust that exists today in many racial and ethnic minority communities from coast to coast.
     

    In December, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Death in Custody Reporting ActThe Senate must now pass a companion to H.R. 1447 before adjourning for the year so that the President can sign it into law.

    The current lack of uniform reporting requirements has made it impossible to know how many people are dying in custody and from what causes; the result, in addition to the loss of life, has sadly been to weaken trust in law enforcement. It is time for the Senate to pass the Death in Custody Reporting Act

    For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Claire Shimberg at (202) 387-2800.

  • Act Now to Support Equal Pay

     

    Over the course of just six days, the Senate dealt both an exciting victory and a disappointing blow to women’s pay equity. Recently, 73 Senators from both parties voted to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199), which would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. Unfortunately, this first of two procedural votes was followed by a disappointing 52-40 vote to advance the bill further toward passage.

    TAKE ACTION:

    If your Senators voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199), please contact them through emails, faxes and phone calls to thank them for their support. If they didn’t, urge them to reconsider and to support the bill next time it comes up. 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
    Rachel Chung at 202.387.2800.

     

  • Support Child Nutrition Reauthorization!



    Background:

    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.

    That is why it is crucial that Congress reauthorizes the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act.  This law includes the National Lunch and School Breakfast Programs ensuring that children receive healthy meals during the school days, the Summer Food Service Program giving students access to foods during the summer, the Afterschool Snack and Meal Program supplying young people with snacks in nonprofit and public organizations, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program providing snacks during the school day, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) providing nutrition assistance and health care to low income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children.

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  • Criminal Justice Transparency Now!

    H.R. 1447
    The Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 1447) is crucial legislation that will provide much-needed transparency in the criminal justice system. The law would require and facilitate the collection of information regarding the deaths of prisoners in custody, alleviating the environment of suspicion, concern and mistrust that exists today in many racial and ethnic minority communities from coast to coast.
     

    In December, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Death in Custody Reporting ActThe Senate must now pass a companion to H.R. 1447 before adjourning for the year so that the President can sign it into law.

    The current lack of uniform reporting requirements has made it impossible to know how many people are dying in custody and from what causes; the result, in addition to the loss of life, has sadly been to weaken trust in law enforcement. It is time for the Senate to pass the Death in Custody Reporting Act

    Fill out the form below to send a letter to your Senators: 

  • 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. 

  • Oppose Gender Expression Discrimination

    ‘Civil rights’ refers to those rights that allow a citizen to fully participate in civic society. The struggle for civil rights is the struggle to achieve equality of opportunity for all, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

    Fifty years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark act that outlawed segregation in schools and public places, the United States has done much to erase legal discrimination, but the legacy of racial inequality has yet to be erased. From protecting the rights of Native Americans to fighting for the right of gays and lesbians, the struggle for civil rights in the 21st century has grown to include a more diverse America and a greater variety of issues.

    Background

    Although current law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, and disability, no federal law protects employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It remains legal in 29 states to refuse to hire or promote, or to demote or fire someone based on sexual orientation, and in 33 states, the same goes for gender identity. A May 2011 Center for American Progress poll reported that 73% of Americans feel gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people deserve protection against workplace discrimination. As of September 2012, 440 (88%) of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 285 (57%) had policies that include gender identity.

    The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) (A4226/S195A) was introduced by Senator Dan Squadron and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. GENDA would amend New York law to add gender identity and expression as a protected class in the state’s human rights and hate crimes laws, prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas, and providing enhanced penalties for bias-motivated crimes.

    Reform Jewish Values

    Judaism teaches that respect for the fundamental rights of others is each person’s duty to God. “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a). As Reform Jews, we are also guided by the basic belief that all human beings are created b’tselem Elohim (in the Divine image). It says in Genesis 1:27, “And God created humans in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.” Each of us, created in God’s image, has a unique talent, with which we can contribute to the high moral purpose of tikkun olam, the repair of our world. Excluding anyone from our community lessens our chance of achieving this goal of a more perfect world.

    The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has long supported equal rights for all people. In 1977, the URJ explicitly resolved to support equal rights for LBGT people, saying, “Homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under the law. We oppose discriminating against homosexuals in areas of opportunity, including employment and housing.” Since then, the URJ, Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), and National Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) have passed many additional resolutions on equal rights for LBGT people.

    Legislative Update
    On June 10th, 2014, the amended Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) (A4226B/S195B) was passed in the New York State Assembly and delivered to the Senate. 

    Take Action
    Urge New York State Senators to support and pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to ensure the further protection of LGBT people in New York. For more information, please contact RJVNYS staff Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800.

  • 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 (H.R. 4618). 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.

    Take Action:

    Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4618). 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 Charlie Arnowitz 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. 1286/S. 631), would require employers with 15 or more workers scheduled to work each day, to permit each worker to earn at least 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

    Employees may use this time to care for their own medical needs, care for the medical needs of certain family members (such as a domestic partner or the partner’s parent or child); or seek medical attention, assist a related person, take legal action, or engage in other activities related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    Paid sick days are beneficial to both the employer and the employee, allowing workers to recover from illness instead of spreading it in the workplace;  saving money for employers by reducing turnover; and helping caregivers better balance their caregiving and their jobs.

    Crafting policies that provide a basic standard of leave for workers while remaining sensitive to the potential impacts on employers is critical to achieving a just solution for all. The Healthy Families Act would provide millions of Americans with much-needed paid sick days. 

  • 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.

    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.


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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

    Congress is considering the Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410/H.R.3382), a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The bill, which has already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, 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 Smarter Sentencing Act recognizes 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, and lowers those sentences for some offenders. The bill also slightly broadens the “safety valve” that can give judges necessary discretion to impose sentences below mandatory minimum levels when appropriate. Additionally, the bill would correct a lingering injustice by applying the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively to more than 8,000 federal prisoners still serving crack cocaine sentences that Congress unanimously denounced as unfair and racially discriminatory in 2010. 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.
     
    Jewish Values

    The Reform Movement supports mandatory minimum sentencing reform because we believe that all individuals deserve fair, humane, and just punishments. In Deuteronomy 16:20, the Torah commands us, (Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, "Justice, justice you shall pursue"), and the sages explained that the word (tzedek) is repeated not only for emphasis but to teach us that we must be just in our pursuit of justice, that our means must be as just as our ends. The Reform Movement has long been concerned about the disparate impact of mandatory minimum sentencing policies. Our 1999 resolution on Race and the U.S. Criminal Justice System calls for us to “support legislation to end crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentencing disparities,” and we have long advocated for policies that end racial disparities in our criminal justice system. While individuals must be held accountable for their crimes, our justice system should also be restorative, rehabilitative, and ensure that the punishment fits the crime. Judges play an essential role in exercising discretion and determining appropriate sentences for offenders. In particular, our pursuit of a more just society makes us sensitive to the racial disparities inherent in mandatory minimum sentencing. Restoring judicial discretion in all cases would contribute to a more just society.

     
    Take Action

    Ask your members of Congress to support the Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410/H.R.3382). You can send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. To call your Senators, the Capital Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. 

    For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.
  • 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

    Two voucher bills have been introduced that would privatize the majority of funds for public schools. 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 be 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 turn a significant amount of federal education funds into vouchers.

    Vouchers, which divert public, taxpayer money to private schools, including parochial schools, are bad public policy. Instead, we should be supporting public school with public funds. Further, vouchers threaten our nation’s commitment to the separation of church and state and religious liberty by allowing taxpayer dollars to fund students’ education at private, religious schools.

  • Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights

     Background

    On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder to invalidate parts of the Voting Rights Act. The Court struck down Section 4(b), which contained a formula requiring certain areas with a history of disenfranchisement problems to seek pre-clearance from the Department of Justice when making changes to election procedures. In the aftermath of the Court’s misguided decision, many states previously covered by the invalidated “preclearance” formula have tested the extent to which they can legally limit citizens’ access to the ballot box, by introducing, and in some cases passing, restrictive voting laws. These laws often have discriminatory effects on racial minorities, the poor, the elderly, and students.

     
    Jewish Values

    Jewish tradition teaches us that the selection of leaders is not a privilege but a collective responsibility. Rabbi Yitzchak taught that “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). In keeping with the insight of this teaching, it is the duty of all who cherish democracy to ensure that all eligible citizens are afforded the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted. The Reform Jewish Movement, long believing that the right to vote is fundamental to American democracy, strongly supports legislation that protects the rights of all citizens to exercise the right to vote.

     
    Legislative Update

    On January 16, Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would, among other provisions:

     
    • Create a new preclearance formula that would replace the one that was struck down
    • Make it easier for courts to subject jurisdictions to preclearance
    • Require communities to notify the public when making changes to voting procedures
    • Allow courts to stop voting rights changes before an election, if they seem likely to be discriminatory
    • Allow the Justice Department to put election observers in place if there is likely to be racial discrimination at the polls
     
    Take Action

    Ask your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (S. 1945/ H.R. 3899). You can send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. To call your Members of Congress, the Capital Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. 

     For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.
  • Oppose Restrictions to Reproductive Rights


    Background

    The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) is a dangerous and highly restrictive bill that severely threatens the right to choice affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. This legislation would prevent women seeking needed reproductive health care from using their own, private money to pay for abortion services. H.R. 7 would 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, if passed, would likely lead many private health insurance plans to eliminate abortion coverage altogether, thus dramatically reducing women’s access to safe and affordable abortion services.

  • 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

  • Tell Congress: Support People with Disabilities Worldwide

    Ratify CRPD!This week, the Senate will hold a second hearing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In July 2009, the United States signed but did not ratify 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 - 650 million people, some 10 percent of the world's population, live with a disability. Now is the time to urge your Senators to ratify the Convention and support people with disabilities worldwide.




  • 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

    The Parental Notification and Intervention Act of 2013 (H.R. 3601) 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.

  • Protect Anti-Hunger Programs in New York

    Background

    In 2010, nearly 2.8 million New Yorkers lived in poverty—14% of all New Yorkers—and 12.4% of residents struggled with food insecurity, meaning they were unsure about when they would next receive a meal. In Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany, poverty rates are above 25% and over 2.3 million residents statewide rely on emergency food assistance annually. The number of New York State households participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased since the recession—to almost 2.9 million households.

    In addition to working with beneficiaries of federal anti-hunger programs including SNAP, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC) and the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, New York State operates the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), a program that provides emergency food programs at regional food banks and other organizations with lines of credit. HPNAP also includes the Operations Support and Equipment grant, which funds emergency food programs for operations and equipment expenses. HPNAP is managed by the NY State Department of Health. The program was funded at $31.9 million in fiscal year 2007-2008, but only at $28 million in fiscal year 2012-2013, despite a rapid increase in poverty and need for emergency food programs following the recession.

    Jewish Values

    The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and help eradicate hunger from our society. Leviticus 23:22 tells us, "And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I the Eternal am your God." In Isaiah 58:7, God commands us to "share [our] bread with the hungry and bring the homeless into [our] house."

    Our Jewish tradition further teaches us that we must fight hunger not individually, but rather by working together as a community. The Talmud explains that each Jewish community must establish a public fund to provide food for the hungry, and our sages explain that feeding the hungry is one of our most important responsibilities on earth: "When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer: ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told: ‘This is the gate of the Lord, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry’" (Midrash to Psalm 118:17).

    Take Action!

    Contact your member of the Assembly and Senate and urge them to support increased funding for HPNAP in the state budget.

    For more information about hunger in New York State, contact Legislative Associate Molly Benoit at (202) 387-2800. 

  • Oppose Limits to a Woman’s Right to Choose!


    Background

    Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has introduced The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 1670), 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. The bill severely limits a woman’s autonomy over her own body, and refuses 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 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. S. 1670 is a threat to women, likely unconstitutional, and should not pass the Senate.

  • 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.

  • Protect Anti-Hunger Programs



    Hunger & the High Holy Days

    Thank you for taking action to fight hunger and poverty during this High Holy Day season. As your food bank donations will help struggling families in your local community, sending an email through the form below will urge Congress to protect the vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs that protect vulnerable families nationwide.

    Text   View or download our infographic



    The Farm Bill, which has historically set much of U.S. food, agriculture, and anti-hunger policy, is currently making its way through Congress. Recently, the House passed a Farm Bill that strips from the bill the vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps millions of individuals and families keep food on the table in spite of harsh economic conditions.

    The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and help eradicate hunger from our society. Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to keep and strengthen SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations and any budget deal and to reject any amendments that weaken our country’s flagship nutrition program.  

  • 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
  • Urge Congress to Protect the Healthcare Mandate

    Urge Congress to Protect the Health Care Mandate

    The House of Representatives is considering the SIMPLE Fairness Act (H.R. 4118), which would undercut the Affordable Care Act and delay the implementation of the individual mandate. The landmark health reform law extends coverage to millions of Americans and strengthens existing insurance coverage through mandates on individuals and businesses to purchase or provide healthcare coverage.

    Since open enrollment in the new health care exchanges began on October 1, over 4 million Americans have gained private health insurance, with millions more enrolling in Medicaid and other programs. The law has already provided tremendous benefits, such as the ability for young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26, a ban on insurance plans denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and the gradual closing of the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole.”

    Members of Congress must reject efforts like the SIMPLE Fairness Act, which would deprive Americans of the inclusive, affordable, accessible and accountable healthcare they deserve. The House has already held 49 votes to defund, repeal, or weaken the Affordable Care Act, wasting precious legislative time on this misguided effort. As the March 31 deadline for enrollment draws near, now is the time to continue to work toward implementation, not delay.

    Jewish Values and Health Care

    Jewish tradition is emphatic about the importance of the community ensuring healthcare for its vulnerable members. As with all Jewish communal welfare efforts, a combination of private and public mechanisms was used to ensure the availability of healthcare in self-governing Jewish communities. In some Jewish communities, public health programs and/or regulation of fees and medicine costs were used to ensure coverage. In this spirit, the Reform Movement has been a leading voice in the faith community advocating for the passage and implementation of the ACA. We must continue to fulfill our responsibility to lift up the moral voice for health insurance reform by telling our Members of Congress to reject bills that weaken the ACA.


    Take Action

    Please contact your Representative and urge him or her to oppose the SIMPLE Fairness Act.  The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can also send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.

  • Thank the HELP Committee for Passing ENDA


    Workplace Equality & ENDA
    On Wednesday July 10th, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This is a critical first step in allowing this landmark civil rights legislation to become law. Just as it was important to urge members of the HELP committee to support ENDA, we must now thank those Senators who took a stand for civil rights and LGBT equality to encourage them to help pass the bill on the Senate floor. 


    TAKE ACTION:

    Thank your Senators for supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (H.R. 1755/S. 815). Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121, or send an e-mail by entering your zip code below.

  • 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.  The Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 264 / H.R. 1263) addresses these challenges, creating criteria for establishing community behavioral health centers, making such centers eligible for payments for services under Medicaid, and awarding 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

     

    Introduction

    Conservation is one of the best things we can do to protect the environment. 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. 2262 / H.R. 1616) would increase the efficiency of the enrgy used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, while also creating jobs.

    Take Action

    Tell your member of Congress to support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. Click inside the text box to add your own personal comment.

  • 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 Equal Rights Amendment

    Background

    The bipartisan “joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment” (S.J.RES 15/H.J.RES 43) is an important step toward ensuring women’s equality across our country. The Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in Congress in 1923, would provide blanket protections against any form of unequal law or unequal enforcement that discriminates based on sex. The Amendment passed Congress in 1972, but has yet to be ratified by the requisite 38 states. The joint resolution introduced in the 113th Congress would enable the ratification process to continue until three more states ratify this crucial amendment, and it can be formally incorporated into the U.S. Constitution.

    Discrimination based on sex still occurs across our country in multiple different forms. Women continue to face pay inequality, only earning an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Women face additional inequities regarding benefits such as insurance, social security, and pensions; experience workplace discrimination in the form of the lack of pregnancy leave and flexibility; and continue to be discriminated against in the military and in the courtroom, particularly in cases of rape or sexual assault. In addition to rectifying these disparities, the Equal Rights Amendment would be immune to other unjust state laws, thereby safeguarding current protections that could be overturned or repealed by individual legislatures and preventing future discriminatory legislation.

    Jewish Values

    Inspired by our belief that all human beings are made b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God, the Reform Jewish Movement has long advocated for women’s rights. We support gender equality in all aspects of our society, and have supported – and continue to support – efforts to end pay discrimination, to stop violence against women and to protect a woman’s right to choose. Yet in addition to working on these individual endeavors, we must also work upstream to address the source of the solution, and to curtail discriminatory laws before they are even able to be enacted.

    Take Action

    In emails, faxes and phone calls, please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to support the joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES 15/H.J.RES 43). 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 Sarah Greenberg at 202.387.2800.

  • 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."


    Take Action


    Email your state legislators and urge them to institute a fair and just campaign finance system. For more information, please contact Legislative Associate Molly Benoit.

  • 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 Funding to Fight Malaria

    Malaria, a disease spread through mosquitoes carrying the plasmodium parasite, is responsible for 200 million illnesses a year. Of those 200 million new cases each year, approximately 600,000 of those people will die, including one child every 60 seconds. This is both a humanitarian and an economic crisis. Africa loses approximately $12 billion a year in productivity and healthcare costs due to malaria. 

    Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support $680 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative and $1.65 billion for the Global Fund for Fiscal Year 14.

  • 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 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 support $680 million for the President’s Malaria Initiative and $1.65 billion for the Global Fund for Fiscal Year 14. 

  • 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.

  • Protect Access to Contraception for All Women

    Every woman is entitled to access contraception as a matter of basic rights and fundamental dignity. Jewish tradition believes that contraceptives are not only acceptable, but legitimate forms of health care and family planning. We also teach that health care is the most important communal service, and should be available to all. Tell your member of Congress that as a Reform Jew, you support all women's access to contraceptive coverage without co-pay.

  • 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.

  • Support the Rights of People with Disabilities Worldwide

     The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is based on the ideals of the Americans with Disabilities Act, intended to empower persons with disabilities to be independent and productive citizens. The Convention now waits in Congress to be ratified, and stands at the crossroads. In May, a bipartisan group of senators came forward as strong supporters of the treaty, just after it was formally introduced in the Senate. Now is the time to tell Congress to support people with disabilities worldwide. The International Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of national disability organizations, needs the support of your synagogue in their sign-on letter today

    Urge the Senate to support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by adding your syangogue's name to this letter and bolster an international effort to bring the world closer to achieving the goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. For more information contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Raechel Banks at 202.387.2800.

  • 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 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 cosponsor the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R 1010/the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, S. 1737, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour 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. It is imperative that the Convention is ratified before Congress recesses by the end of September for the midterm elections. Now is the time to 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

    Background

    Last week, President Obama acted to address the immigration challenges faced by nearly one million young people who were brought to the United States as undocumented immigrant children and who have since grown up here, stayed in school and have been law-abiding contributors to our communities. The President issued an executive order offering qualifying undocumented young people relief from removal and eligibility for work authorization. Although a legislative remedy passed by Congress would be preferable to executive action that can be overturned by future presidents, Congress has been unable or unwilling to pass similar legislation, known as the DREAM Act, for many years.  Now, these young members of our communities will have the ability to continue to contribute to the only country they have ever known as home.

    Jewish Values

    Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants, demanding 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 is echoed 35 times in the Torah. 

     Take Action

    Send a letter to President Obama, thanking him for issuing the immigration executive order. For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Madison Arent at 202.387.2800.

  • Tell HHS: Protect Women’s Access to Birth Control

    BACKGROUND

    In July 2011 an Institute of Medicine panel recommended eight preventative clinical services for women that should be offered without co-pays under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The fifth recommendation was for insurance plans to make available “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” In August 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius followed the panel’s advice and released regulations that included birth control without co-pay.

    Reflecting and respecting the unique role and mission of religious institutions, the rule contained a religious exemption. Nonetheless, some religious leaders expressed concern that the exemption was too narrow (for example, one objection was that the exemption includes houses of worship but not religiously affiliated universities or hospitals). At the same time, many women’s health groups argued that the exception drawn by the Administration was too broad and would deny women employed by those institutions access to birth control without co-pay. As a compromise, the Obama Administration announced earlier this year that it would work with all the interested groups and revise the regulations, likely by having insurers pay for the contraception, rather than the religious entities. The regulations enshrining that compromise are now open for public comment.

    As committed Reform Jews, we are strong supporters of religious liberty. At the same time, we are also strong supporters of women having the access and ability to make their own reproductive health decisions. Every woman, including women who work for entities covered by the exemption, is entitled to access contraception as a matter of basic rights and fundamental dignity. That’s why the Reform Movement supports the compromise and the new regulations, which provide a way for women who work for organizations covered by the exemption to access birth control without a co-pay from a third party. There can be no discrimination in basic health services.

    JEWISH VALUES

    The United States’ commitment to principles of religious liberty have allowed religious freedom to thrive throughout history. At the same time, Jewish tradition reflects the view that contraceptives are not only acceptable but a legitimate form of health care and family planning. Jewish tradition also teaches that health care is the most important communal service, and therefore should be available to all.

    TAKE ACTION

    Tell Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that you support women’s access to contraceptive coverage as part of a basic preventative care package. The public comment period is only open until June 19! Submit your comment to the HHS today by entering your zip code below.

  • Tell Gov. Brownback to Veto Islamophobic Law!

    Background:

    A bill banning the use of “foreign law” was recently passed almost unanimously in both houses of Kansas’s state legislature, despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution makes it clear that no foreign law can take precedence over American law in U.S. courts.  Although Kansas’s new law does not mention Islamic Shari’ah law specifically, it reflects a trend of anti-Muslim sentiment and legislative efforts to demonize Islam that have occurred in over 20 states across the country.

    Jewish Values:

    Having been the quintessential victims of religious persecution over the centuries, Jews know what happens when otherwise good people stand silently by in the face of discrimination and oppression of others. Jewish tradition teaches that in every generation, we are obligated to view ourselves as if each of us was personally brought forth out of Egypt and knows the pain of discrimination. The Reform Jewish Movement is committed to opposing discrimination and to raising awareness about and speaking out against religious persecution wherever it exists.

    Act now! Don’t let Kansas’s law reflect discrimination. Tell Governor Brownback to veto SB 79. Governor Brownback’s office can be reached at (785) 296-3232, or you can send an email by entering your email address below.

  • Eradicate Obstetric Fistula Worldwide

    Background

    More than two million women and girls in Africa and Asia are plagued by a condition that, without treatment, physically and emotionally brands them for the rest of their lives. Women who suffer from obstetric fistulas after childbirth face a lifetime of symptoms that include leaking urine and feces, which often causes them to be completely ostracized by their communities. This ostracism frequently leads to divorce, and financial and social abandonment. The women are often forced to turn to begging or prostitution to survive.

    The United States Leadership to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula Act of 2012 (H.R. 5748), sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), has been introduced in an effort to eliminate in a decade the scourge of obstetric fistulas through a network of clinics and teams of U.S. and African doctors, social workers and midwives. Additionally, this legislation would create the critical infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa to better care for and treat women who have or may develop an obstetric fistula. By simply offering the opportunity to heal these women, we increase their stature in their society. We strengthen these women, who in turn have the opportunity to strengthen their own mothers, sisters and daughters.

    Jewish Values

    As Jews, we are commanded not to stand idly by the blood of our neighbors (Leviticus 19:16), regardless of whether these neighbors are physically close or are suffering across the world. In our Jewish tradition, when we recite the prayer to heal those who are ill, we ask for “refu’at hanefesh u’refu’at ha-guf” – the healing of the soul and the healing of the body. By providing the support to repair obstetric fistulas and the physical and emotional wounds they create, we help heal the body and soul.

    Take Action

    Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the United States Leadership to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula Act of 2012. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can send an email below. For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Katharine Nasielski at 202.387.2800.

  • Support NY Minimum Wage Increase

    Background

    New York State's current minimum wage was last increased in July 2009, bringing it up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The proposed increase in the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour would put the wages of a full-time minimum wage worker at 95% of the 3-person federal poverty line.

    Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage levels above $7.25 according to a recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI). According to the report, 880,100 people or 10.1% of New York state residents earn less than $8.50 per hour, of which 55% are female and 84% are age 20 and older. This belies the claim that only teenagers are paid minimum wage. They work primarily in the retail and food service industries in service and sales occupations.

    Last year, the Assembly passed legisation introduced by Speaker Sheldon Silver to raise the minimum wage but Leader Skelos refused to consider the legisation in the Senate. 

    In both his State of the State address and budget proposal for this year, Gov. Cuomo included an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75 effective July 1, 2013. The legislature is currently considering an increase in the minimum wage higher than the Governor's proposal (A00038A/S01835A).

    On March 5, 2013, the state Assembly passed a bill raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour from it's current $7.25. The measure passed the Assembly 102-44 and now proceeds to the state Senate to approval.

    Jewish Values

    Judaism teaches us that poverty is destructive to human dignity, and that helping people in need is a matter of fundamental principle, not an act of charity. The Reform Jewish Movement has long been a voice for social and economic justice and as early as 1965 advocated at the federal level for living wages. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, since it’s founding in 2002, has supported an increase in the minimum wage.

    Take Action

    Urge the state Senate to raise the minimum wage. Send an e-mail to your state Senator by entering your zip code below. For more information, please contact Program Associate Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800.

  • Preserve the Right to a Trial for All

    Background

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed last year gives the government the power to indefinitely detain and render into military custody any person – citizen or not – apprehended on suspicion of terrorism. This creates the very real possibility that innocent American civilians could be arrested by the police and find themselves held in military custody without access to civilian courts. This is an unacceptable violation of our civil liberties.

    An amendment sponsored by Representatives  Adam Smith (D-WA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) to this year’s NDAA would undo the problematic indefinite detention provisions. In particular, it would require civilian (as opposed to military) custody of persons detained in the United States on suspicion of terrorism and mandate a timely trial in a civilian court.

    Jewish Values

    The American Jewish community long has cherished the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans in the Constitution. The vitality of these freedoms is confirmed not only by our commitment to our American heritage, but also by centuries of Jewish law. As we strive to strike the appropriate balance between these cherished freedoms and our national security, we are reminded of the words in Deuteronomy,  “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (16:20). The justness of our legal system is threatened if civilians can be detained indefinitely in military prisons without access to a speedy trial in civilian court. 

  • Tell EPA: Support Strong Carbon Limits Today

    In partnership with:

    BACKGROUND
    The RAC and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) are joining together to demonstrate the Jewish community's support for our nation's first-ever proposed limits on carbon emissions from new power plants.
    The proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants will prevent any new power plant from emitting more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. With conventional coal plants currently emitting more than 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, pollution controls setting higher technology standards are long overdue.

  • Support Fair Elections for New York


    BACKGROUND:

    Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature are considering adopting New York City’s public financing system statewide to limit the influence of money in politics. Public financing evens the political playing field, enabling candidates to focus on the issues and run competitive campaigns without relying largely on a small number of wealthy contributors.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged in his State of the State address in January to introduce legislation during the 2013 legislative session to create a public funding option for New York state elections based on the New York City model and has reiterated that pledge again this year. The NYC model provides money to candidates who accept expenditure limits and enhanced disclosure rules. Clean money campaign financing systems, including voluntary public financing of elections, already exist in a number of states, but what makes the NYC model so successful is the “multiple match”—a feature that boosts the impact of small donations by matching up to $175 of each contribution at a six-to-one ratio.

    On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, the Assembly passed the 2013 Fair Elections Act by a 88-50 margin. The bill would implement the NYC model statewide. 

    JEWISH VALUES:
    Jewish tradition recognizes the distorting effect that money can have on a leader’s ability to govern fairly. Deuteronomy 16 commands, "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.” Talmud Tractate Kethuboth notes, “As soon as a man receives a gift from another he becomes so well disposed towards him that he becomes like his own person, and no man sees himself in the wrong.” In a modern democracy, it is still necessary for elected officials to be accountable to all citizens, not just wealthy and powerful moneyed interests.

    TAKE ACTION

    Urge your legislators to make the Fair Elections plan a priority next year. For more information, please contact Legislative Associate Molly Benoit.

  • Tell Congress: Don’t Abandon Those in Need

    Background

    The House is expected to vote this week on the budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 112) authored by Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). The budget threatens several programs that protect the disadvantaged, while offering massive tax breaks that will limit the government’s ability to support vital programs that affect all Americans. By ending entitlement status for Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and by effectively privatizing Medicare, this budget proposal, if adopted, would fundamentally and unjustly restructure our commitment to seniors and low-income families. Deuteronomy teaches, “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin.” (15:7). Congress must take bold steps to restore fiscal responsibility, but this budget fails the moral test outlined by our Jewish teachings.

    Take Action

    Call your Representative, and urge him or her to oppose the Ryan budget, H. Con. Res 112, when it comes to a vote on the House floor. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at 202-224-3121.

    For more information, please contact Legislative Assistant Ian Hainline at 202-387-2800. 

  • Urge Gov. Cuomo to Support Women's Reproductive Health!


    BACKGROUND:
    While New York State was a trailblazer in 1970, becoming one of the first states to legalize abortion three years before Roe v. Wade, our law has since become outdated. Current policy fails to account for changes in abortion care and does not contain a health exception or any affirmative guarantee protecting a woman's right to make decisions regarding contraception and abortion.  Instead, we must rely on the U.S. Constitution, which leaves these rights vulnerable to further erosion by the Supreme Court. The Reproductive Health Act (S. 00438), introduced in January 2013 in the Senate, will repeal the penal code provisions containing New York's abortion statute and place laws related to the regulation of abortion in the public health code. Consistent with Roe v. Wade, the Act would allow abortion up to the point of viability and after that, only if there is a threat to the woman's health or life. 

    JEWISH VALUES:
    The Reform Movement has long championed reproductive freedom.  In 1975, the Union for Reform Judaism resolved "The question of when life begins is a matter of religious belief and not medical or legal fact."  It is due to the fundamental Jewish belief in the sanctity of life that abortion is viewed as both a moral and correct decision under some circumstances.  Choices regarding one's own reproductive health are intensely personal, and the Reform Movement vigorously opposes any legislation suggesting that women are incapable of private moral judgments. We trust women to make health care decisions that are best for them and their families.

    TAKE ACTION:
    Urge Gov. Cuomo to support women's reproductive rights and the Reproductive Health Act. The Governor's office can be reached at 518.474.8390 or you can send an e-mail below. For more information, please contact Program Associate Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800. 

  • Protect the Hungry: Oppose SNAP Cuts in the Farm Bill



    Anti-hunger programs and the Farm BillAnti-hunger programs, like SNAP, aid families trying to bridge the gap betwee
    n something and nothing on their table. Almost 50 million Americans will rely on SNAP this year and half of all American children will depend on SNAP for a meal before age 20. Widespread food insecurity is one of the many problems we face as a nation and now is the time to protect and strengthen anti-hunger programs. 

      View or download our infographic 


    The Farm Bill, which has historically set much of U.S. food, agriculture, and anti-hunger policy, is currently making its way through Congress. The House has already passed the bill, which includes $8.6 billion in cuts to SNAP. The Senate will likely vote this week on the same bill. 

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was already cut by $5 billion on November 1, 2013. Further cuts will have even more damaging effects on the most vulnerable, as families with a child, senior, or person with a disability make up nearly 90% of SNAP recipients.

    The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and address hunger in our society. Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to protect and strengthen SNAP in Farm Bill negotiations and to reject any cuts or amendments that weaken our country’s flagship nutrition program.

  • Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill

    BACKGROUND
    The Farm Bill is the primary food and agriculture policy for the U.S. federal government. This omnibus piece of legislation has a far-ranging impact, from impact foreign assistance and food safety, to environmental conservation and anti-hunger programs.  

    Up for reauthorization this year, the Farm Bill 2012 must support robust nutrition programs to aid the millions of Americans confronting hunger, while ensuring funding for vital conservation programs that protect our air, land and water for future generations.

    JEWISH VALUES
    Our Rabbis teach us that sustenance and food security are inextricably intertwined with scripture as the foundation of Jewish life. “Without sustenance, there is no Torah. Without Torah, there is no sustenance.” (Pirke Avot 3:21) The link between food and faith obligates us as Jews to challenge the injustice of hunger, champion the right to food and steward the land on which our sustenance depends.

    TAKE ACTION NOW
    The RAC, alongside
    American Jewish World Service, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Hazon, invites you to join us in making our voices heard in support of food assistance and conservation programs in the next Farm Bill. Sign the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill below!

  • Speak Up for Health Care

    Background

    Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has introduced an amendment to the Surface Transportation Bill that would allow employers and insurance companies to deny health insurance coverage for any essential health care service that they object to on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. This would not only have the potential to affect the reproductive rights of women, but would potentially limit unknown numbers of Americans from receiving a range of preventative and immediate health care services, including cancer screenings, HIV/AIDS treatment, and more.

    Jewish Values:

    Our tradition teaches us that human life is of infinite value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations. We, as Jews, believe that God endowed humanity with the understanding and ability to become partners with God in making a better world. The use of our wisdom to cure illnesses has been a central theme in Jewish thought and history. Providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for society as well. It is for this reason that Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot IV: 23).

    Take Action:

    Urge your Senator to vote NO on the Blunt Amendment to the Surface Transportation Bill and protect access to vital health care services. The congressional switchboard can be reached at 202-224-3121.  For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Katharine Nasielski at 202-387-2800.


  • Protect Reproductive Rights in Virginia!

    The Virginia State Senate recently voted in favor of Senate Bill 484, which would require the use of ultrasound testing before an abortion and would insist that a woman have the opportunity to view the sonogram image of her fetus and hear the fetal heartbeat. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), places an unfair financial burden on low-income women by forcing them to pay for medically unnecessary services and interferes with the provider-patient relationship. The bill will now be considered in the Virginia House and, if passed, will likely be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    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. Women are commanded to care for their own health and well-being above all else. It is due to the fundamental Jewish belief in the sanctity of life that abortion is viewed as both a moral and correct decision under some circumstances.  The Reform Movement strongly believes that women are moral agents entitled to and capable of making their own health decisions. The Reform Movement also strongly condemns restrictions on access to abortion services that particularly impact low-income women.

    Take Action: Urge your Representative to vote NO on mandatory ultrasound legislation.

  • Defend Women's Health from Political Attacks

    Join the Reform Movement's campaign to defend women's health from political attacks.

    The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation has changed its new guidelines in a way that will continue financial support to Planned Parenthood and allow PPFA to apply for new grants. As many of you know, the letter from the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of Rabbis & Women of Reform Judaism calling for the restoration of funding to PPFA by Komen drew widespread attention and support. Indeed, this decision reflects the outpouring of support for PPFA's vital work for women's health by thousands of Reform Jews and many others over the past 48 hours (Read the Reform Movement letters here).

    It is our goal to help ensure a strong outpouring of public support for a continued close partnership between Komen and PPFA by mobilizing thousands of Jews committed to women's health.

    PPFA is a major provider of breast exams and other preventative health care services to women and men and particularly to low income and underserved communities. Now is a time to thank the Komen Foundation for its vital work and its ultimate decision to stand with PPFA on behalf of women’s health.

    Each year Planned Parenthood's network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly 830,000 breast exams. PPFA has stated that, over the past five years, 170,000 of the centers' four million breast exams conducted were a direct result of Komen grants. Halting Komen grant money to PPFA would have been contrary to the organization's mission and interests, directly and unfairly threatening the health and safety of women.

    In the face of a polarizing political environment, we must stand in strong support of women’s health by supporting the partnership between Komen and PPFA. Anti-choice advocates are already making their voices heard in opposition to the revised funding standards.  Join us and thousands of others in thanking the Komen Foundation for its continued funding PPFA and the work that it does.

    TAKE ACTION NOW: Thank the Susan G. Komen Foundation for continuing to fight for the health and lives of women everywhere by funding Planned Parenthood and allowing PPFA to apply for new grants for breast cancer screening and urge them not to allow the new standards to become politicized to the detriment of women's health.

  • Oppose Drilling in Fragile Alaskan Ecosystems

    BACKGROUND
    Year after year, precious tracts of land and stretches of ocean are contaminated by oil spills and gas leaks. Yet recently the House of Representatives passed the PIONEERS Act (H.R. 3408)a bill that encourages oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts, as well as force approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, as part of a larger transportation package that seeks to fund infrastructure with oil drilling revenues. Senator Vetter (R-LA) has proposed the same measure as an amendment to the Senate transportation bill.

    Particularly alarming is expanded oil and gas exploration and drilling off the Alaskan coast, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). ANWR stands as one of America’s last true wilderness areas, containing numerous fragile arctic ecosystem and habitats for caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes, and snowbirds.  This area represents the last 5% of Alaska’s North Slope that is not already open to drilling.

    Opening ANWR and our fragile coastlines for drilling would sacrifice the long-term health and security of our nation for the short-term gain of consuming more oil, ignoring our responsibility to respond to climate change.

    JEWISH VALUES
    In Genesis we learn that when God placed the first human beings in the Garden of Eden, God gave humanity a dual role in relationship to the surrounding environment, "to till it and tend it" (Genesis 2:15). This demands a balanced approach to development, a careful consideration of the competing needs both to employ the resources with which God has provided us and to protect those resources for generations to come.

    TAKE ACTION NOW
    Urge your Senators to oppose Sen. Vetter's transportation bill amendment authorizing expanded oil and gas drilling. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121,or you can send an e-mail by entering your zip code below.

  • Restore Voting Rights for Millions Disenfranchised


    BACKGROUND

    As Americans, we hold that voting is a constitutional right and the opportunity to exercise this right should be fair and accessible to all. Yet despite our nation’s fundamental belief in a participatory democracy, the right to vote is actively denied to millions of Americans.

    The Democracy Restoration Act of 2014 (S. 2235/H. R. 4459) would restore voting rights to individuals who have been released from incarceration. Four million men and women in the United States continue to remain disenfranchised from voting in federal elections even after being released from prison. Upon release from incarceration, these citizens work, pay taxes, live in our communities and bring up families, yet they are without a voice. The legislation would also deny federal funds to correctional institutions unless they offer a program to education incarcerated individuals of their voting rights upon release.

    Currently, voting rights for previously incarcerated individuals varies from state to state, which is why we need a uniform standard across the country for federal elections. The Democracy Restoration Act would fulfill the American democratic ideal by guaranteeing every one of its tax-paying citizens the right to vote.

    JEWISH VALUES

    As Jews, we celebrate a proud tradition of fairness with regard to voting and elections. Rabbi Yitzhak instructs that “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a). Instances of voter disenfranchisement compel us to speak out, as it is our duty to ensure that all citizens are afforded the opportunity to vote and have their votes counted.

    TAKE ACTION

    Tell Congress to support the Democracy Restoration Act (S. 2235/H. R. 4459) and give voice to over four million Americans who continue to remain disenfranchised. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email to your Senators and Representative by entering your zip code below.

  • Support Comprehensive Sexuality Education

    BACKGROUND:


    Comprehensive sexuality education programs encourage abstinence but also recognize the realities of sexuality and behavior among teenagers. They address issues relating to contraception and safe sex, and have been found to delay the onset of sexual activity, reduce the number of partners, and decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. Moreover, comprehensive sexuality education programs help students talk with parents about sex, build healthy relationships, and address issues of sexual and gender identity and orientation.  Unfortunately, for many years, the federal government has provided funding solely to ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs.

    If introduced and passed, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (H.R. 725/S. 372) would provide young people with the comprehensive sexuality education they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships. The legislation provides comprehensive sexuality education to adolescents and young adults in public schools, communities, and institutions of higher education, insists on medically accurate and evidence-based programs, promotes culturally and linguistically appropriate and LGBT inclusive education, and provides bare minimum standards for federal funding.

     

    JEWISH VALUES:


    The Reform Jewish Movement is committed to responsible, medically accurate sexuality education, which includes information about both abstinence and contraception. Judaism teaches that we are created in the image of God, and that the guiding principle of sexuality in the Jewish tradition is K'doshim tih'yu, “You shall be holy.” Providing your people with accurate and comprehensive information allows them to respect themselves and their bodies.

     

    TAKE ACTION:


    Please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to introduce and then support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. You can also send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below.

    For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Sarah Greenberg at 202.387.2800


     

  • Justice Cannot Wait: Tell Your Senators to Fill Judicial Vacancies Immediately

    Background:

     

    Our nation’s well being depends on the smooth functioning of the judicial system and on the checks and balances it ensures as one of the three co-equal branches of government established by our Constitution. Right now, the system is off-balance.

     

    The US's federal courts currently lack enough judges to hear cases and there are an unnerving number of judicial emergencies, a term that describes courts that have been unable to function at full capacity for an extended period of time and have an excess caseload due to a lack of judges.

     

    For nearly three years, obstructionism has prevented well-qualified nominees from being confirmed at a reasonable pace. The consequence is that an ever-growing number of Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to have their day in court. A vacancy crisis is occurring that isn’t only bad for democracy; it impacts every single issue that we care about. From immigration to employment discrimination cases, to cases of religious liberty, Americans are waiting far too long for justice.

     

    Call on your Senators to restore balance to our system and enable to courts to work for those they are supposed to serve.

     

    Jewish Values:

     

    Jewish tradition teaches the importance of fair and impartial courts. In Exodus 18:21, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, advises him to choose capable, trustworthy, and law abiding members of society to judge the people. Elsewhere we are taught of the ethical obligation to oppose unjust persons and unfair judgments; judges should neither “favor the poor [n]or show deference to the rich” (Leviticus 19:15). Further, in Deuteronomy, God proclaims to the people of Israel, "you shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice, shall you pursue" (16:19-20). The responsibility to pursue justice extends beyond ensuring that we, ourselves, are behaving justly and judging fairly. We also have a responsibility to create a legal system that strives for balance and that treats all people equitably.

     

    Take Action:

    In the face of judicial emergencies and obstruction in the confirmation process, we must urge our Senators to vote on all pending judicial nominations. Please contact your Senators and urge them to fill judicial vacancies. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 or you can send an email below. For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Sarah Greenberg at 202.387.2800.

  • Defeat the Balanced Budget Amendment in the Senate

    BACKGROUND
    This week, the Senate will consider two balanced budget amendment, S. J. Res. 23 and S. J. Res. 24, which would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in the economy, deeply constricting its ability to fight poverty during economic recession.  A balanced budget amendment would also make it more difficult for the government to put Americans back to work, respond to natural disasters, or invest in infrastructure to ensure prosperity for the future. In fact, a balanced budget amendment would likely necessitate cuts to key government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and even veterans benefits.

    In their simplest form, balanced budget amendments require the federal government to spend no more money than it collects in revenue. While this is a worthwhile goal, such an amendment would prevent the federal government from wielding its unrivaled creditworthiness to spend and repay huge sums of money to provide security to families in need and invest money in the future so that the economy can continue to grow.

    S. J. Res. 23 contains additional provisions that make the amendment even more dangerous. Specifically, S. J. Res. 23 requires three-fifths of the whole membership of both houses of Congress vote in order to raise the debt ceiling. This would codify a dramatically increased risk of default on the national debt, allowing fringe groups to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. Indeed, only two of the past ten debt ceiling increases achieved a three-fifths vote, and this was only because the increases were embedded in other must-pass legislation.

    Constitutionally enforced spending caps and supermajority requirements for revenue increases are ideological attempts to shrink the size of government under the guise of fiscal restraint. Starving the federal government of revenue and artificially limiting the amount of money the government can spend would mean the destruction of programs that serve the disadvantaged and likely result in more poverty, more joblessness, and less prosperity.

    JEWISH VALUES
    We are taught in Proverbs that “One who withholds what is due to the poor affronts the Creator; one who cares for the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). This message is amplified in Deuteronomy, where we are taught “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient” (Deut. 15:7-8). A balanced budget amendment will deeply constrain the ability of the federal government to respond to the needs of all Americans but especially the disadvantaged.

    TAKE ACTION
    A Constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Call your Senators and ask them to oppose S. J. Res. 23 and S. J. Res. 24 when each comes to a vote. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.
    For more information, please contact Legislative Assistant Ian Hainline at 202.387.2800.

  • Extend Federal Unemployment Insurance


    Background
    Without fast action by Congress, federal unemployment benefits will expire for 2.2 million Americans on February 29.  In December 2011, President Obama signed a 2 month extension of federal unemployment insurance into law.  Unemployment benefits are critical in helping working families stay above the poverty line during economic downturns. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2010 alone, unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million Americans from falling into poverty. If benefits were to be allowed to expire, though, 3.5 million workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own would likely be plunged into poverty. This would also remove between $70 and $80 billion from the economy—a potentially devastating blow in such trying economic times.
     
    Jewish Values
    The Torah and Jewish tradition teach us that providing for those in need is not a matter of charity but an obligation. We learn in Deuteronomy that “If there is a needy person among you… do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11). Judaism also teaches that the highest form of tzedakah is to help another person achieve self-sufficiency. We must help people support themselves by maintaining crucial assistance at this uncertain time.

    TAKE ACTION:
    Urge your Members of Congress to support a yearlong extension of federal unemployment insurance. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an e-mail below. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Ian Hainline at 202.387.2800.

  • Protect Public Financing for Presidential Elections

    Background

    This week the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 3463, a bill that would dismantle the public funding system for presidential elections. Created in 1976, the public funding system offers money raised via a voluntary check-off on individuals tax returns to qualified primary- and general-election presidential candidates. The bill would also eliminate the Elections Assistance Commission, set up in the wake of voting problems in the close 2000 presidential election and eliminate public funding for national party conventions, money which both Republicans and Democrats have already applied for and received for their upcoming conventions.

    The disproportionate influence of money in politics will only grow if H.R. 3463 becomes law.  Campaigns are becoming ever more expensive, with the two 2008 presidential candidates raising a staggering $1.7 billion.  The 2012 race is already shaping up to be even more costly. Such large sums of money distort the election process, making participation more difficult for candidates without huge reserves of personal funds. It also forces public servants seeking re-election to spend more time raising money and less time responding to the needs of constituents. Public financing, though imperfect, has the potential to change the rules of the game, thereby injecting new ideas and different kinds of candidates into our electoral system.

    Jewish Values

    Jewish tradition recognizes the distorting effect that money can have on a leaders ability to govern fairly. Deuteronomy 16 commands, "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. Talmud Tractate Kethuboth notes, As soon as a man receives a gift from another he becomes so well disposed towards him that he becomes like his own person, and no man sees himself in the wrong. Rabbi Yitzhak argued that in the Torah, Bezalel could be chosen to build the Tabernacle only with the community's approval. In a modern democracy, it is still necessary for elected officials to be accountable to all citizens, not just wealthy and powerful moneyed interests.

    Take Action

    Urge your Representative to vote against H.R. 3463 when it comes to the floor. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an e-mail by entering your zip code. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Susan Paykin or call 202.387.2800.

  • Support Reproductive Rights for Servicewomen

    More than 400,000 women serve in the Armed Forces, and receive their health insurance from the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. But the health insurance available to servicewomen prevents women in the military from using their own private funds to pay for abortion services in military facilities. This problem is compounded by the fact that victims of these crimes might be hesitant to disclose their circumstances to superiors. The MARCH Act (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health of 2013 - H.R. 1389/S.777) would close this loophole and bring regulations for military women in line with federal standards. As long as women paid out of pocket, they would be able to get an abortion in a military medical facility rather than traveling outside the base to potentially dangerous or medically insufficient providers.   

    Jewish values affirm the right of all women to be moral decision makers, capable of making responsible choices about their reproductive health.  Women in the military are no less entitled to the right to make such decisions than civilians.

    TAKE ACTION: 
    In emails, faxes and phone calls, please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act (The MARCH for Military Women Act of 2013). 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 Sarah Greenberg
     at 202.387.2800.

  • Protect Our Water: Oppose the Barrasso-Heller Amendment

    BACKGROUND

    From the streams in our backyards and city parks, to the wetlands that help protect us against floods, America’s water is under threat. Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and Heller (R-NV) plan to offer an amendment that would dangerously undermine the Clean Water Act to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2354).

    The 1972 Clean Water Act was designed to protect “all the waters in the United States.” However, industry and commercial interests have chipped away at clean water safeguards after 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions created uncertainty about what types of waters are protected. Currently, Clean Water Act protections only apply to “navigable waterways,” excluding small streams and wetlands that more than 117 million Americans rely on in some part for their drinking water supply.

    Although they have been weakened, these protections can be restored by government directives. However, the Barrasso-Heller amendment would codify the current restrictions indefinitely so that the original Clean Water Act protections could never be clarified or reinstated. The amendment could destroy countless waterways vital to human health and ecological wellbeing.

    JEWISH VALUES

    As Jews we are called from the earliest verses of Torah to be good stewards of our resources. In Midrash, we learn, “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).

    Water has played a role in virtually every major story in the Torah. Isaac’s wife was chosen for him at a well. The baby Moses was saved after floating down a river. The Israelites were freed when the red sea parted. Miriam will forever be remembered by her gift of water to the Jewish people in the desert. The history of the Jewish people is the history of our relationship with water.

    TAKE ACTION

    With the Senate expected to vote on an omnibus appropriations bill before breaking for the holidays, your vocal opposition to this dirty water amendment is urgent. Urge your Senator today to oppose the Barrasso-Heller Amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act (H.R. 2354). The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121, or you can send an email by entering your zip code below.

  • Oppose the Balanced Budget Amendment

    BACKGROUND
    This week, the House of Representatives will consider a balanced budget amendment, H. J. Res. 2, which would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in the economy, deeply constricting its ability to fight poverty - let alone put Americans back to work, respond to natural disasters, or invest in infrastructure to ensure prosperity for the future.
    In their simplest form, balanced budget amendments require the federal government to spend no more money than it collects in revenue. While this is a worthwhile goal, such an amendment would prevent the federal government from wielding its unrivaled creditworthiness to spend and repay huge sums of money to provide security to families in need and invest money in the future so that the economy can continue to grow.

    H. J. Res. 2 also contains additional provisions that make the amendment even more threatening. Specifically, H. J. Res. 2 requires three-fifths of Congress vote in order to raise the debt ceiling. This would dramatically increase the risk of default on the national debt, further destabilizing our national economy.

    Another provision of H. J. Res. 2 would raise the threshold for any increase in government revenue- even something as simple as closing a tax loophole. Such a rule would make it extraordinarily hard, if not impossible, for the government to meet its responsibilities to the public and ensure national well-being and security.

    Constitutionally enforced spending caps and hamstringing congress’s ability to raise revenue are simply dangerous., Starving the federal government of revenue and artificially limiting the amount of money the government can spend would mean harm to or the destruction of programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, that serve all Americans and particularly help the disadvantaged. The likely result would be more poverty, more joblessness, and less prosperity.

    JEWISH VALUES
    We are taught in Proverbs that “One who withholds what is due to the poor affronts the Creator; one who cares for the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). This message is amplified in Deuteronomy, where we are taught “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient” (Deut. 15:7-8). A balanced budget amendment will deeply constrain the ability of the federal government to respond to the needs of all Americans and particularly the disadvantaged.

    TAKE ACTION
    A Constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Call your Representative and ask him or her to oppose H. J. Res. 2 when it comes to a vote. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.

    For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Ian Hainline `at 202.387.2800.

  • Oppose the Balanced Budget Amendment

    BACKGROUND
    This week, the House of Representatives will consider a balanced budget amendment, H. J. Res. 2, which would fundamentally reshape the federal government’s role in the economy, deeply constricting its ability to fight poverty - let alone put Americans back to work, respond to natural disasters, or invest in infrastructure to ensure prosperity for the future.
    In their simplest form, balanced budget amendments require the federal government to spend no more money than it collects in revenue. While this is a worthwhile goal, such an amendment would prevent the federal government from wielding its unrivaled creditworthiness to spend and repay huge sums of money to provide security to families in need and invest money in the future so that the economy can continue to grow.
    H. J. Res. 2 also contains additional provisions that make the amendment even more threatening. Specifically, H. J. Res. 2 requires three-fifths of Congress vote in order to raise the debt ceiling. This would dramatically increase the risk of default on the national debt, further destabilizing our national economy.
    Another provision of H. J. Res. 2 would raise the threshold for any increase in government revenue- even something as simple as closing a tax loophole. Such a rule would make it extraordinarily hard, if not impossible, for the government to meet its responsibilities to the public and ensure national well-being and security.
    Constitutionally enforced spending caps and hamstringing congress’s ability to raise revenue are simply dangerous., Starving the federal government of revenue and artificially limiting the amount of money the government can spend would mean harm to or the destruction of programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, that serve all Americans and particularly help the disadvantaged. The likely result would be more poverty, more joblessness, and less prosperity.

    JEWISH VALUES
    We are taught in Proverbs that “One who withholds what is due to the poor affronts the Creator; one who cares for the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). This message is amplified in Deuteronomy, where we are taught “If there is a needy person among you…do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient” (Deut. 15:7-8). A balanced budget amendment will deeply constrain the ability of the federal government to respond to the needs of all Americans and particularly the disadvantaged.

    TAKE ACTION
    A Constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Call your Representative and ask him or her to oppose H. J. Res. 2 when it comes to a vote. The Capitol switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.
    For more information, please contact Legislative Assistant Ian Hainline at 202.387.2800.

  • Support Foreign Aid for Israel

    Background

    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 $3.075 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 about Israel, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Deborah Goldberg at 202.387.2800.

     



  • Stop Discrimination and Promote Civil Rights

    Background

    The End Racial Profiling Act of 2013 (S. 1038, H.R. 2851) aims to prohibit racial profiling at the federal, state, local and tribal levels. Defined as “the practice of a law enforcement agent or agency relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin in selecting which individuals to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities, or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law enforcement activity following the initial investigatory procedure,” racial profiling is a discriminatory act that denies individuals the constitutional right of equal protection under the law.

    The End Racial Profiling Act (S. 1038, H.R. 2851) would legally prohibit racial profiling and enforce the injunction through the judicial system by such means as specializing instruction in federal law enforcement training, conditioning state and local government receipt of federal funds on the successful adoption of anti-racial profiling policies, awarding Justice Department grants to state and local governments that best implement practices that defeat racial profiling, and positioning the Attorney General as watchdog to assess such practices.

    Racial profiling raises civil rights concerns, undermines the criminal justice system by diverting resources from pursuing actual criminal behavior, and reinforces false stereotypes, whether in the context of counterterrorism, street-level crime or immigration enforcement. 

    Jewish Values

    Judaism teaches respect for the fundamental rights of others as each person's duty to God. "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor" (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a). Equality in the Jewish tradition is based on the concept that all of God's children are "created in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27).

    Take Action Now!

    Contact your Senators and urge them to uphold the civil rights of all individuals by co-sponsoring the End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (S. 1038, H.R. 2851). The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202-224-3121. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Charlie Arnowitz at 202.387.2800.

  • 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 act now and pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help protect our students.

  • Urge Senators to Protect Anti-Hunger Programs