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  • Urge your Member of Congress to Condemn Hatred and Bigotry

    On Saturday, August 12, 2017, white nationalist and neo-Nazi protestors marched in Charlottesville in a day full of hate, bigotry, and violence. The protestors’ racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic language, chants, and images are deeply disturbing, and we mourn the violence that led to the loss of three lives and many injuries. All people of good will, especially public officials, have a responsibility to denounce the ideology that inspired the tragedy and stand up for equality, freedom, and justice for all.

    Urge your members of Congress to denounce the racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia that were at the heart of Charlotteseville’s events.

  • Urge Your Member of Congress to Defend SNAP!

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) provides basic food assistance for low-income families to combat hunger, food insecurity, and poverty. In 2015, SNAP lifted 4.6 million Americans above the poverty line. SNAP is also incredibly effective and efficient, reaching our country’s most vulnerable .

    Despite this, the House Budget Committee’s fiscal year 2018 budget resolution recommends dramatic cuts to the program that would directly harm millions of Americans. The Committee’s proposal would cut SNAP by $150 billion, a more than 20 percent reduction in the program’s funding.

    Urge your member of Congress to defend SNAP and support the millions of Americans who utilize the program.

  • Thank Your Senators for Defending Affordable Health Care

    Early in the morning on Friday, July 28, the Senate rejected the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act by a 51-49 vote. The legislation would have substantially rolled back the enormous progress the ACA has made in the lives of millions of Americans. Thanks to the outcry of constituents like you, the Senate voted to protect access to affordable health care.

    Thank your Senator for voting against repeal of the ACA and urge them to work together in a bipartisan, transparent way to improve America’s health care system so that all people may access the medical treatment they need.

  • Defend Affordable Health Care!

    The Senate is currently debating the future of the American health care system. Senators will vote in the coming hours and days on various proposals to repeal or substantially undermine the Affordable Care Act. These plans are grave threats to the millions of Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

    Urge your Member of Congress to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to health care.

  • Call Your Senators: Defend Affordable Health Care

    The Senate is currently debating the future of the American health care system. Senators will vote in the coming hours and days on various proposals to repeal or substantially undermine the Affordable Care Act. These plans are grave threats to the millions of Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

    Call your Senators and urge them to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to health care. Fill out the form to access the talking points and call details to reach your Senators!

  • Defend Affordable Health Care!

    The Senate is currently debating the future of the American health care system. Senators will vote in the coming hours and days on various proposals to repeal or substantially undermine the Affordable Care Act. These plans are grave threats to the millions of Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

    Urge your Member of Congress to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to health care.

    There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Congress and throughout the country that mandatory minimums make our criminal justice system unjust. Not only does our system also displays deep racial disparities, on the federal level, half of all inmates are locked up for drug crimes. Many of these individuals are serving harsh mandatory minimum sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes they committed. There have been legislative proposals to reform sentencing and corrections, and the Obama administration issued guidelines instructing federal prosecutors to not seek mandatory minimums to ameliorate these challenges in lieu of system-wide reform.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently revoked these guidelines, reinstating the high likelihood that offenders may face longer sentences that many have deemed to be unjust. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), along with Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) have introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 1127/H.R. 2435) in order to return discretion to federal judges in sentencing decisions. This bill would expand the safety valve, a tool judges can use to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimum in certain cases.

    Urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor the Justice Safety Valve Act today.

  • Urge Congress to Oppose Any Effort to Weaken or Repeal the Johnson Amendment

    For more than 50 years, a provision in the federal tax code has prohibited 501(c)(3) organizations, including houses of worship, from engaging in partisan politics. This crucial provision, known as the “Johnson Amendment,” has safeguarded the integrity of both religious institutions and the political process by protecting the separation of church and state. Any effort to weaken or repeal the prohibition on partisan politicking undermines synagogue’s independence and the First Amendment principle of religious freedom and must be opposed.

  • Tell Congress: Fully Fund State Department Office for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

    On March 16, 2017, President Trump released his budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018. This document proposed cuts in a variety of vital government agencies, including a 28% cut to the State Department from FY 2017 funding levels. With such deep gauges to the State Department ‘s budget as proposed, funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is vulnerable. This position is crucial for documenting human rights abuses against Jewish communities abroad, and it also develops vital programs and policies to combat anti-Semitism. In documenting anti-Semitic incidents abroad, the Special Envoy has worked closely with foreign leaders to address anti-Semitism in their countries and also inspired the creation of similar offices around the world.

    Underfunding or fully cutting funds for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism would signal to the rest of the world that the United States is abdicating leadership in this important area. Without this essential office, Jewish communities around the world will lose a crucial advocate and ally.

  • Call Your State Senators and Urge Them to Vote Yes on SB 54

    Call today and urge your State Senator to support SB54 the California Values Act, which protects the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to toward deportation and separating California families. This important bill is up for a vote in the State Senate on Monday, April 3.

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  • Defend Affordable Health Care!

    In the six years since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), over 20 million Americans have gained health care coverage. Few laws in the last 50 years have positively affected as many people on a daily basis. Despite the outcry of opposition, the 115th Congress is considering repealing the ACA without a comprehensive replacement.  Urge your Member of Congress to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to healthcare.

    In the six years since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), over 20 million Americans have gained health care coverage. Few laws in the last 50 years have positively affected as many people on a daily basis. The 115th Congress is considering repealing the ACA and replacing it with a less comprehensive alternative.  Urge your Member of Congress to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to healthcare.


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  • Tell Senators: Oppose Nomination of David Friedman for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

    President Trump has nominated David Friedman to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Mr. Friedman has long been an outspoken voice on Israel-related issues, advocating for policies that would alter decades of U.S. policy toward Israel. This includes his support for a one-state solution and financially supporting West Bank settlements. While Mr. Friedman moderated some of his positions during his confirmation hearing, we simply can’t accept that Mr. Friedman’s suddenly altered views replace a long and detailed record that he has on Israel, both in his stated comments and his philanthropy. For these reasons, the Reform Movement opposes Mr. Friedman’s nomination.

    Urge your Senators to reject the nomination of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel. 

  • Oppose Nomination of David Friedman for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

     

  • Call your Senators: Oppose Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

    On November 18, 2016, President Donald Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States. The Senate is expected to vote on Senator Sessions’ nomination in the coming days.

    As Attorney General, Senator Sessions would have great influence over many policy areas of key importance to the Reform Movement, including civil rights, religious freedom, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and immigration. Senator Sessions’ record and his testimony at his confirmation hearing indicate that, as Attorney General, he would impede the Justice Department’s mandate to enforce crucial laws for which our Movement has advocated.

    As the full Senate vote approaches, it is crucial that we raise our voices in opposition to Senator Sessions’ nomination. Join Reform Jews around the country in calling your Senators, urging them to vote against Senator Sessions’ confirmation.

    Fill out the form to access the talking points and call details to reach your Senators!

  • Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    President Trump has announced plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Such a wall is a deeply misguided means of addressing the very real challenges facing our immigration system. Instead of myopically prioritizing border security alone, we need immigration policies that holistically fulfill our national security imperatives, meet the needs of employers and workers, and unite and strengthen families.

    Today, we face the enormous challenges posed by our nation's broken immigration system. More than ever, we need comprehensive reform of our 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. Comprehensive reform is based on streamlined processing, a commitment to obey the rule of law, payment of taxes owed, family reunification, and a path to citizenship. Urge your Members of Congress to swiftly introduce and adopt comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Oppose Unjust Refugee and Immigration Ban

    On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a new executive order on refugees and immigration, doubling down on the discriminatory executive order from January. This latest incarnation of the executive order halts the refugee resettlement program for 120 days and continues to restrict entry to the United States for individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries.

    The earlier executive order from January 27, 2017 barred entry of all Syrian refugees; and imposed in essence a religious test for immigrant and refugee entry to the U.S. by refusing entry to any individual coming from a list of majority-Muslim nations – betraying even those individuals with visas and who have supported our nation's military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. While this latest executive order does contain some of these provisions, the underlying policies remain the same: barring entry to United States for refugees -- those fleeing the most dire of circumstances, and limiting entry to the U.S. based on national origin.

    On June 25, 2017 the Supreme Court lifted parts of the injunction that had halted the unjust executive order from going into effect. Now, individuals that would be affected by the order can enter only if they can show a "bona fide relationship" to the United States. The new regulations regarding this change went into effect on June 29. The Supreme Court is going to hear arguments on the core legal questions of the case in the fall.

    Together, these executive orders not only defy the United States' historical legacy as a land of refuge, but it also specifically target Muslim-majority countries, reneging on our country’s founding principle of religious freedom.   


  • Protect Key Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act

    Defending and expanding the rights of individuals with disabilities is one of the core civil rights priorities of the 21st century. Legislation was introduced that would undermine some of the most important measures that protect equal accessibility for individuals with disabilities. As the 115th Congress begins, and as Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month approaches, it is important to make our voices heard that no undermining changes should be made to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Urge your Member of Congress to oppose any legislation similar to the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620 in the 115th Congress/S. 3446 in the 114th Congress), legislation that would reverse the progress the ADA has ensured for over 25 years.

  • NFTY-TOR: Urge Texas Legislature to Oppose SB 6

    BACKGROUND:

    On January 5, Senate Bill 6 was introduced in the Texas legislature. This bill specifically targets transgender and gender nonconforming individuals by requiring people in government buildings and public schools to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex assigned to them at birth.

    Simply put, the issue of restrooms is being used to perpetuate a false narrative about a supposed threat posed by transgender people, particularly to women and girls’ safety. Studies repeatedly show that transgender individuals are more likely to be victims of harassment in public spaces, rather than its cause. We must reject this untrue and harmful rhetoric.

    Urge your state legislator to oppose SB 6.

    JEWISH VALUES:

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

    MORE INFORMATION:

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

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  • Tell Congress Not to Curtail Women’s Reproductive Rights

    The House of Representatives is poised to vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 7), a dangerous bill that severely threatens a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health. This bill would prevent women seeking needed health care from using their own private insurance money to pay for abortion services. Bans on taxpayer funding for abortion also deny women the right to deduct abortion services in their health care tax credit, infringing not only on federally-administered health care plans, but also on privately-run and paid-for plans. This legislation would incentivize many private health insurance plans to eliminate abortion coverage altogether, thus dramatically reducing women’s access to safe and affordable abortion services.

  • Protect DREAMers from Deportation

    Background:

    In 2012, the Obama Administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers, the over 750,000 undocumented immigrants who grew up in the United States and who want to give back to society and raise their own families in the only nation they know as home.

    Now, as we transition to a new administration, participants in and applicants to DACA are in a vulnerable state. Their names and contact information are known to the federal government, and if the succeeding administration seeks to deport all undocumented immigrants as was stated during the campaign, the DACA program provides a robust list.

    The Bridge Act (S. 128/H.R. 496) is a bipartisan piece of legislation which would allow DACA recipients and those eligible for DACA to apply for “provisional protected presence” and work authorization for a three-year period. The bill would also impose restrictions on the sharing of information in DACA and provisional protected presence applications with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for purposes of immigration enforcement. The Bridge Act does not offer a pathway to citizenship, but it does allow DREAMers the ability to work and participate in American society without fear of deportation.

    Jewish Values:

    Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. 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 teaching 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.

    MORE INFORMATION:

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

  • Tell Senators: Oppose Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

    On November 18, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump nominated Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Senator Sessions would assume the new office after President-elect Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.

    As Attorney General, Senator Sessions would have great influence over many policy areas of key importance to the Reform Movement, including civil rights, religious freedom, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and immigration. His extensive record in public life has been one of insufficient commitment to the advancement of these issues.

    Reform Jews have been steadfast advocates for civil rights and equal protection for all people for over 50 years. Senator Sessions’ record and his testimony at his confirmation hearing indicates that, as Attorney General, he would stand in the way of the Justice Department’s mandate to enforce crucial laws that our Movement has advocated for.

    Urge your senators to oppose Senator Sessions’ nomination to be the next U.S. Attorney General.

  • Protect Access to Women’s Health Care!

    Women’s health care providers, including Planned Parenthood, are essential to providing critical services to women, such as breast cancer screening, birth control and preventative care. On Thursday, January 5, 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the House’s budget legislation will end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides affordable, quality preventive health care and treatment to 2.7 million people across the U.S. Speaker Ryan’s plan threatens the future of women’s health care nationwide.

    Urge your Representative to oppose this harmful plan and to support safe, legal and affordable access to women’s health care.

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  • Urge Congress to Pass Sentencing Reform

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

    In the 114th Congress, members from both sides of the aisle have come together in support of comprehensive reforms to our nation’s sentencing laws. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123), the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3713) and the Corrections and Recidivism Reduction Act (H.R. 759) represented the most significant efforts at criminal justice reform in decades. Provisions in these bills would tackle the problems of mass incarceration and over-criminalization by reducing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and granting judges greater discretion in sentencing decisions.

    The 115th Congress can act on this bipartisan consensus and demonstrate much-needed unity around urgent reforms to the criminal justice system. Urge your Representative and Senators to support comprehensive legislation to create fairer sentencing laws, improve prison practices and encourage successful reentry.

  • Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights

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

    Urge your Members of Congress to support the passing of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (S. 1419/H.R. 2978), which would help restore protections against these restrictive voting laws.

  • Call Your Senator: Defend the ACA

    The Senate is currently debating the future of the American health care system. Senators will vote in the coming hour and days on various proposals to repeal or substantially undermine the Affordable Care Act. These plans are grave threats to the millions of Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act.

    Call your Senators and urge them to preserve the ACA and ensure millions of Americans maintain their access to health care. Fill out the form to access the talking points and call details to reach your Senators!

    In the six years since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), over 20 million Americans have gained health care coverage. Few laws in the last 50 years have positively affected as many people on a daily basis. The American Health Care Act has been introduced to replace the Affordable Care Act, and would dismantle the enormous advances made by the ACA. The AHCA would deprive millions of coverage, and increase insurance costs for millions more. Urge your Member of Congress to oppose the AHCA and preserve the progress the ACA has made for millions of Americans. 

  • Oppose Divisive White House Leadership

    This week, President-Elect Donald Trump named Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. In his roles as editor of the Breitbart website and as a strategist in the Trump campaign, Mr. Bannon was responsible for the advancement of ideologies antithetical to our values as Americans, including anti-Semitism, misogyny, racism and Islamophobia. There should be no place for such views in the White House.

    Urge your Members of Congress to oppose the appointment of Steve Bannon to a White House leadership position.

  • Urge Congress to Pass Sentencing Reform

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

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

    With only a few weeks left in the 114th Congress, time is running out to act on this historic, bipartisan legislation and demonstrate much-needed unity around urgent reforms to the criminal justice system. Urge your Representative and Senators to support bringing S. 2123 and H.R. 3713 to a vote today.

  • Pledge to Vote 2016

    Rabbi Yitzhak taught, “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first
    consulted.” – Talmud, B’rachot 55a

    The General Election will be held Tuesday, November 8, 2016. At stake are numerous local, state and federal offices and a number of issues of concern to American Jews. Pledge to vote and make your voice heard, and ask three of your friends to do the same. After you take the pledge, you will be directed to a page that will help you share it with others.

    PLEDGE HERE TO VOTE:

  • Oppose Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination in the NDAA

    Every year, Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets defense policy and funds the Department of Defense. The NDAA for FY 2017, which is currently under consideration, contains a deeply problematic provision – known as Sec. 1094, or the Russell Amendment – that would authorize employment discrimination on the basis of religion using money provided through government contracts and grants. This is taxpayer-funded discrimination, and must be removed from the final version of the NDAA. Take action today to urge your Senators to adopt the NDAA for FY 2017 without the Russell Amendment.

  • Urge U.S. Leadership in Ending Syrian Conflict

    For six years, the Syrian conflict has raged, with an unimaginable human cost. Over 50% of Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, and hundreds of thousands of civilians have died as a result. The Assad regime has targeted airstrikes, chemical attacks, and sieges against noncombatants. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians in hospitals, schools, and supermarkets offend our shared humanity, and the U.S. has an obligation to take action as a global leader on human rights.

     

  • Demand Equality at Israel's Holiest Site

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

    How would you feel?

    What would you do?

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

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

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

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

    Why is this important?

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

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

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

    What can I do?

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

  • Pledge to Vote on Prop 57


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

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

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


    PLEDGE HERE TO VOTE YES ON PROP 57

  • Urge your Representative to Pass Sentencing Reform

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

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

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

  • AN Launch Registration

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

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

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

  • Sit Together with NFTY to End Gun Violence

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

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

  • Sit Together to End Gun Violence

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

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

  • Urge Your Senators to Vote for Mandatory Background Checks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Make your voice heard and submit a comment here!

  • Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban

    Background:

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

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

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

  • Urge Your Governor to Act on Climate

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

    Under the Clean Power Plan, each state received different emissions reduction targets and were tasked with creating an implementation plan to reach those targets. Currently, the Clean Power Plan is being challenged by 28 states in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The Court heard oral arguments in September 2016 and we are still waiting on a decision. On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order calling for a review and rewrite of the Clean Power Plan. A coalition of 17 states and environmental groups filed a legal motion asking the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia not to pause ongoing court proceedings. Despite the uncertainty of the future of the Clean Power Plan,  we must work to ensure that despite legal challenges, states continue to create plans to reduce emissions from power plants.

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Support Oversight in East Ramapo

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

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

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

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

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

  • SRCA Letter Sign-On for Florida Rabbis

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

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

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

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

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


    Jewish Values:

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

    Take Action:

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

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

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

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

    Jewish Values:

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

    Take Action:

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

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

  • Urge Governor Bryant to Repeal HB 1523

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

    Special Language Inserts

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

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

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

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

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

    Special Language Inserts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Urge Congress to Ensure Due Process for Unaccompanied Children

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

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

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

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

  • Urge Congress to Help Flint Build a Safe Water System

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

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

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  • Protect LGBTQ People from Discrimination

    BACKGROUND:

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

    The Equality Act (H.R. 2282/S.1006) will address this issue by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. By building upon decades of civil rights legislation that have tangibly reduced discrimination, the Equality Act will significantly reduce the amount of discrimination LGBTQ people face and will provide an avenue for recourse for victims of discrimination. This bill will provide the same protections to LGBTQ people that are provided to other protected groups under federal law and will strengthen existing civil rights laws by expanding the definition of public accommodations and ensuring that people are protected from sex discrimination in public accommodations and federal funding.

    Urge your member of Congress to co-sponsor the Equality Act (H.R. 2282/S.1006).

    JEWISH VALUES:

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

  • Urge Congress to Stop Predatory Lending Practices

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

  • Support Paid Family and Medical Leave

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

  • Protect the Arctic

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

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

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  • Support Public Financing for Congressional Elections

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

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

  • Support the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act

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

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

  • End Indefinite Detention at Guantanamo

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

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

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

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

     
    Background:

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

  • Support the Transition to Independence Act

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

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

  • Thank President Obama for Taking Action Against Gun Violence

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

  • Improve the Background Checks for Gun Sales

    On June 2, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, people around the country will Wear Orange to bring attention to the epidemic of gun violence that kills 90 Americans each day. One of those lives lost was Hadiya Pendleton, a teenager from Chicago who was killed at the age of 15. In the wake of her death, her friends and family wore orange to honor her life. Orange, the color that hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves, is a bold color that demands notice.     

    Thanks to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), more than 2.5 million attempted purchases by dangerous people who are prohibited from buying guns have been stopped. However, federal law does not currently require background checks for all gun sales, which leads to perilous loopholes. Two bills introduced into the 114th Congress could help to solve this problem and ultimately save lives: The Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R. 3411/S. 2934) and the Background Check Completion Act of 2015 (S. 2213).

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

    Further, if a background check is not completed within 72 hours, a licensed firearms dealer can sell a gun without waiting until completion. While 95% of NICS background checks are completed within two hours, it is critical that the FBI has additional time to complete background checks when needed. According to the FBI, “a purchaser whose NICS check takes more than 24 hours to complete is almost 20 times more likely to be a prohibited person than the average gun buyer.” When firearm dealers are allowed to bypass background checks, they are too often selling to people who are in fact prohibited purchasers. Everytown for Gun Safety analysis shows that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, including guns offered in unlicensed sales online and at gun shows, there are 52 percent fewer mass shootings and 47 percent fewer women are killed by intimate partners with firearms.

    The Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R. 3411/S. 2934), was introduced into the 114th Congress in July 2015 by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), and in the Senate by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in 2016. The bill would expand Brady Background Checks to all gun sales (including those made at gun shows and online). It would also improve reporting of prohibited purchasers to NICS and require federal agencies to certify that they have provided appropriate records to NICS. Lastly, it would require gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearm(s) within 48 hours.

    The Background Check Completion Act of 2015 (S. 2213), introduced in the 114th Congress in October 2015 by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would prohibit a licensed gun dealer from selling a firearm to an unlicensed person before their background check is completed. In other words, if a background check is not complete, then a licensed firearms dealer cannot make a sale. 

  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment

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

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

    The Equal Access to Abortion in Health Insurance or EACH Woman Act  (H.R. 771) was introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2017 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13). This bill seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment. It would guarantee that every person who receives care or insurance through a federal plan or program will have coverage for abortion.

  • Stand With Reform Movement Leaders in Ending Gun Violence

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

  • Time for U.S. Leadership on Refugees

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     
  • Continue to Welcome Refugees into Canada

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

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

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

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

  • Continue to Welcome Refugees into Canada

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

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

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

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

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  • Remind Me of RJV on Giving Tuesday!

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

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

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

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

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  • Faithful Call to Address Climate Change

    BACKGROUND

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

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

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

  • Support Anti-Malaria Programs for Global Health


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

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

  • Urge Congress to Restore Voting Rights

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

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

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

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

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

  • Urge Congress to Pass Sentencing Reform

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

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

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

  • Pass a Budget that Protects the Most Vulnerable

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

  • Support Paid Sick Days

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

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

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

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  • Time for U.S. Leadership on Refugees

    The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 65 million people worldwide are displaced. In Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016, the U.S. accepted 70,000 and 85,000 refugees respectively. President Obama had set a resettlement goal of 110,000 refugees for Fiscal Year 2017. However, President Trump’s executive order cut that number in more than half, to 50,000. Despite court orders blocking the executive order, the U.S. is still on track to resettle only 50,000 refugees this fiscal year. Sadly, those numbers are not enough to respond to the challenge. Now is the time to safely and securely open our doors to those seeking refuge, not slam them shut.

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

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

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

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

  • Oppose Efforts to Curtail Reproductive Rights

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

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

  • Take Action on the Green Climate Fund

    Green Climate Fund Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join Reform CA in ending racial profiling!

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

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

    Tell Gov. Brown to sign AB 953:

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

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

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

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


    Please read on for more information about AB 953

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

  • Join Reform CA in Ending Racial Profiling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Although a high percentage of women murdered by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder, federal law allows convicted stalkers to possess and buy firearms. Moreover, though the law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from accessing firearms, it does not apply to dating partners. Loopholes also allow domestic abusers to access firearms. The result is that many victims of domestic abuse are particularly susceptible to gun violence. The presence of a gun in an abusive home increases the chance a woman is killed by 500 percent. 


    In the 114th Congress, legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress to close those loopholes. In the House of Representatives, Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and Robert Dold (R-IL-10) introduced the 
    Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3130). In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1520). The bills, which are identical except for their titles, extend domestic violence protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and make it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

    Protecting all women from gun violence

  • Protect LGBT People from Discrimination

    BACKGROUND:

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

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

    JEWISH VALUES:

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

    MORE INFORMATION:

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

  • Letter Supporting the Reproductive FACT Act in California.

    Brief Description

  • This July, Tell Congress To Raise the Wage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Protect Civil Rights in Education

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

    Background information:

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

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

    More information:

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

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

  • Expand Health Services for the Critically Ill

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

    Background

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

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

    Jewish values

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

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

  • Protect LGBT Students from Discrimination

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

    Background information:

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

    Jewish values & LGBT discrimination:

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

    More information:

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

  • Save the Whales

     

  • Protect Access to Sexuality Education and Family Planning!

    BACKGROUND

    As Congress works to set the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2016, House and Senate subcommittees voted to eliminate programs proven to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy, reduce abortion, and save tax dollars in fiscal year 2016. By gutting funding to family planning services for low-income individuals and comprehensive sexuality education, this bill would leave millions of Americans without information and services to keep themselves safe and healthy.

    Proposed bills from each chamber eliminate funding for Title X family planning centers, which have long enabled low-income individuals to access quality health care. These cuts would leave 4.6 million Americans without affordable access to critical preventive health care, including family planning services, well-woman exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

    The appropriations proposals also slash funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), an evidence-based program shown to reduce teen pregnancy rates. In addition, the proposals multiply funding for abstinence-only until marriage programs, incomplete “sex ed” curricula that leave teens without the necessary tools to keep themselves safe and healthy. Studies show that abstinence-only until marriage programs do not prevent teenagers from having sex—instead, they prevent them from having safe sex. Our nation’s young people must have access to scientifically-based, medically-accurate information in order to make informed choices about their health.

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

  • Urge Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act

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

  • Improve Access to Justice for Servicewomen

    Background

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

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

    Women in the United States armed forces

  • End Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers!

    Background

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

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

  • Support Church-State Separation and Public Education

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

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

  • Expand Gun Violence Protections for Victims of Domestic Abuse

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

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

    Protecting all women from gun violence

  • Support Public Education in East Ramapo

    RJV logo


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

  • Support Paid Sick Days for Working Families

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

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

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

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

     

  • Support Paid Sick Days for Working Families

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

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

  • Stand with NFTY Against Gun Violence


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

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

  • Reform CA - Support AB 953


    B'yachad - in this together

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

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

     

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

  • Support Continued Funding for Childrens Health Insurance

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

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

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  • End Pay Discrimination!

    American women today make, on average, 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. This disparity is even worse for women of color: African American women make 60 cents for every dollar earned by their white, male counterparts, and for Latina women, it's 54 cents. The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter pay discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. 

    Urge your Member of Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act!

  • Support SNAP Provisions in Federal Budget

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

  • Support Paid Sick Days in New Jersey!

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

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

  • Oppose Cuts to Disability Insurance


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

  • Stand with NFTY for Universal Gun Background Checks


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


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

     

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

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

  • Tell The President To Stop Offshore Drilling!


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




  • Support Paid Sick Days in Maryland!

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Oppose New Federal Vouchers Legislation

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

  • Oppose Financial Burdens on Abortion Access!

    Background

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

  • Clergy: Stand With Women and Girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Oppose Arbitrary Gestational Limits on Abortion!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

  • Support Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia!

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

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

  • Protect LGBT Students from Harassment and Bullying

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

  • Oppose Limits to a Woman's Right to Choose


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

  • Oppose Amendments to Defund the President's Executive Actions


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

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

  • Raise the Minimum Wage!

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

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

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

     Background

    In November 2014, President Obama pledged to give $3 billion to the international Green Climate Fund. The Fund is a centerpiece of new global climate finance initiative designed to help poor countries both mitigate the causes of and adapt to the reality of climate disruption. The fund includes money from both the public and private sectors. The pledge demonstrates a strong commitment to international climate justice and to ensuring that the United States is a leader in the global movement towards adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.

    The onus is now on the new Congress to appropriate contributions to meet President Obama’s pledge for the Green Climate Fund. So far, the United States has contributed $1 billion to the fund through two separate installments of $500 million. 

    Ask your Senators and Representative to support a budget that appropriates money to the Green Climate Fund to meet our pledge of $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund and help the poorest populations globally adapt to climate change and mitigate further climate disruption.

     

    Jewish values

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

  • Stand with NFTY Against Gun Violence


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

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

  • Expand Gun Violence Protections for Domestic Abuse Victims


    Background

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

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

  • SalsaStaff 97124: Raise the Minimum Wage!
  • Tell Your Mayor: Do Not Stand Idly By on Gun Violence


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

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

  • Support The Summer Meals Act of 2015

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

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

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  • Urge Congress to Increase Access to Child Nutrition Programs

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

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

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

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  • Faithful Call to Address Climate Change

    BACKGROUND

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

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

  • Protect the Rights of Migrant Children



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

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

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