Reform Jewish Voice of New York State

April 24, 2014 · 24 Nisan


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2006-2007 Newsletter Archives
November 2007

Volume 1, Number 8
November 29, 2007
19 Kislev, 5768 

Welcome to the November e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State! 

In this month’s e-newsletter:
1. Grassroots effort has effect for Faith & Hunger Network
2. Join the Excitement!
3. Attention Metropolitan NYC Advocates! Genocide Intervention Network Action Alert: Urge NYC Comptroller to Support Sudan Divestment 

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272. 

L’Shalom,
Alyson Grant                         Arleen Urell
Program Director                   Chairperson

1.  Grassroot advocacy efforts has affect for Faith & Hunger Network  

Your grassroots advocacy work has paid off! On November 13, RJV participated with the Faith & Hunger Network call-in day, to NYS Budget Director Paul Francis with our concern about the welfare grant. On November 20, representatives of the Faith & Hunger Network - including Arleen Urell and Barbara Zaron from RJV’s Steering Committee - met with Mr. Francis to discuss increasing the welfare grant and funds for hunger prevention programs. Mr. Francis said that he would ensure that the issue gets the attention it deserves in budget deliberations and that it is important that we continue to advocate. On November 20, the Network held a Thanksgiving Action press event. The next day Governor Spitzer announced 1that he would provide an extra $5 million in funds for emergency food programs (Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program.). The money is to be spent immediately to purchase food for the state's food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens.  

The Faith & Hunger Network hopes that the Governor will be even more generous when it comes to his upcoming state budget. Many anti-poverty organizations are urging the Governor to propose an increase in the basic welfare grant for the first time in 17 years. While November has been a busy month for the Faith & Hunger Network and RJV, we must continue in our work. USA Today reported that NY ranks 48th in the country is terms of how low-income kids fares. Read the article here. And keep the pressure on! 


2. Join the Excitement!

Please join us on March 9, 2008 for the 6th biennial NYS Consultation on Conscience! Featured speakers include Rabbi Jerome Davidson, who will join us as a keynote speaker, and State Senator Liz Krueger, who will participate in an advocacy training session. The two areas of focus at the Consultation are access to health care and the environment. The health care panel will feature Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, with invited panelists Jim Talon from the United Health Fund and State Senator Kemp Hannon. The panel on Environment etc will include Barbara Lerman-Golomb from Hazon, David Gahl from Environmental Advocates of NYS, and Suzanne Mattei, director of the NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation Region 2.

The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state.

April 28, 2008 Advocacy Day
The 2nd Annual Interfaith Advocacy Date will take place on Monday, April 28 in Albany! In 2007, more than 70 activists joined us in Albany for a day of learning and action. Please plan to join us - it isn’t too early to start planning! The effect of Jewish, Unitarian and Protestant clergy and lay people together talking to legislators is awesome and we look forward to your involvement.

3. Attention Metropolitan New York City Advocates - Genocide Intervention Network Action Alert: Urge NYC Comptroller to Support Sudan Divestment

The state of New York has taken steps to divest from targeted companies doing business in Sudan. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State played a role in the state divestment earlier this year, and now it’s New York City’s turn! Contact Comptroller William Thompson's office and ask him to ensure that New York City is not financing genocide by divesting New York City's pension funds

| Call 1-800-GENOCIDE Talking Points:

  • I am a resident of [Borough or address], New York City and I care about ending the genocide in Sudan 
  • Comptroller Thompson must support targeted Sudan divestment of New York City's pension funds
  • It is important that New York City divests from foreign companies that contribute to genocide in Darfur where as many as 400,000 have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since 2003.
  • Targeted Sudan divestment affects only the worst offending companies in Sudan (such as PetroChina) and contains numerous provisions to protect the long-term financial health of pension funds.

 OR Email Comptroller Thompson

Dear Comptroller Thompson, 

As a resident of New York City, I am deeply troubled by the ongoing government-sponsored genocide currently being executed in Darfur, Sudan. For the first time in history, genocide has been officially declared while atrocities are still ongoing. The government of Sudan has systematically slaughtered Muslim Africans in the country's Darfur region for over three years.

I find it deplorable that New York City's money may be helping to fund the genocide in Sudan. I am writing to urge you to divest New York's public funds. 

The process of "targeted divestment" focuses only on foreign companies that have a business relationship with the government, impart minimal benefits to the country's underprivileged, and have failed to respond to attempts at shareholder engagement. Additionally, this critical legislation contains safeguards that project the state's pension funds and allow them to maintain their prudent investor responsibilities. 

The targeted divestment model has already gained widespread acceptance. To date, twenty states, ten cities and over 55 colleges and universities have approved restrictions on their Sudan-linked investments. An additional nineteen states will consider targeted divestment legislation this year. 

Given the Sudanese government's historical sensitivity to economic pressure and the ongoing genocide in Darfur, I urge you to divest New York City's public funds! 

Sincerely,
[Name]
[Street Address] 

 Please update your information online, so we can be the most effective advocates possible. With your correct address, we’ll be able to notify you when your state legislator is a critical vote. Pleaseclick here to sign in.  Please feel free to forward this RJV e-newsletter to your friends, family, and members of your congregation!

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Published by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State 

October 2007 e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 7
October 31, 2007
19 Chesvan, 5768  

Welcome to the October e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!   

In this month’s e-newsletter:
1.      What’s News with RJV?
2.     In the News – Death Penalty & the NYS Court of Appeals
3.      Around the State – Long Island Legislative Breakfast a success!
4.      Save the date: Three Events You Won’t Want to Miss 

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.orgor contact Alyson at agrant@urj.orgor 212-650-4272. 

L’Shalom,
Alyson Grant                           Arleen Urell
Program Director                      Chairperson

1.  What’s News with RJV? 

As we prepare for the 2008 New York State Legislative Session, RJV is working on several campaigns as well as participating in interfaith coalitions in order to further social and economic justice in our state.

We are:
-  Working as a member group of the Faith and Hunger Network to increase the public assistance (welfare) grant – click here to send an email to Governor Spitzer and hereto read our position paper on poverty reduction
- Opposing tuition tax deductions – click here to send an email to Governor Spitzer and hereto read our position paper on tuition tax deductions
- Tracking the Rockefeller drug laws – click hereto be redirected to the Drug Policy Alliance
- Access to health care: the RJV policy committee met to discuss new issues related to health care access in NYS and will be sending out a new position paper in the coming weeks

2. NYS Court of Appeals Ruled to Reject the Death Penalty  

The NYS Court of Appeals voted to reject the death penalty for the last man on death row in New York, replacing it with a new sentence of life without parole. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State applauds the Court of Appeals on its decision. Last year, RJV joined an amicus curiae brief from NY religious leaders against the death penalty, which was submitted to the court in support of Taylor. Pleaseclick here to read the RJV position paper on our opposition to the death penalty. And hereto read the press release regarding this ruling from the group New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, who we have worked with in coalition on this topic. 

3. Around the State: Long Island Legislative Breakfast a Success!

More than 80 congregants, community leaders, clergy members, and activists attended a Long Island legislative breakfast entitled “Poverty on Long Island:  Housing, Homelessness and Hunger”, which was held at Central Synagogue of Nassau County on October 19th.  The event was sponsored by RJV and the Long Island Social Action Committee of the URJ Greater New York Chapter. Participants heard from Bill Ayres, executive director of World Hunger Year, Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, who discussed the Jewish perspective on social and economic justice, and a formerly homeless individual from the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing shared his personal experience with homelessness. In addition, Assembly member Michelle Schimmel addressed the audience, invigorating the crowd and encouraging them to advocate on these issues. The breakfast participants advocated that day, as many signed a letter to Governor Spitzer requesting that he increase the Public Assistance (welfare) grant in New York State, which has not changed since 1990. 

The following organizations supported the event: Coalition to Eliminate Health Disparities, Habitat for Humanity – Suffolk, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, Interfaith Nutrition Network, Island Harvest, Mercy Haven, New Ground, NYC Coalition Against Hunger, Mobilized Interfaith Coalition Against Hunger, Sustainable Long Island, and World Hunger Year. 

4. Save the dates:

November 18, 2007: Public Forum on Conscience in Public Life in New York CityPlease join us for "Conscience in Public Life," a forum on civic participation in NYS government, to be held on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1:30 - 4:00 pm at the 4th Universalist Society in Manhattan. Issues include support for LGBT rights, increasing the public assistance (welfare) grant, reproductive rights, and church-state separation. Legislators have been invited to speak. Reform Jewish Voice of NYS, Interfaith Impact of NYS, the Faith and Hunger Network, and other interfaith organizations are organizing this event. The program is free and refreshments will be provided. For more information, e-mail info@interfaithimpactnys.orgor call 518-441-3231.

March 9, 2008: NYS Consultation on Conscience
The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state. State Senator Liz Krueger will be participating, Governor Spitzer has been invited to address the audience, and other elected officials have been invited as well.

April 28, 2008 Advocacy Day
The 2nd Annual Interfaith Advocacy Date will take place on Monday, April 28 in Albany! More than 70 activists joined us in Albany for a day of learning and action.  Please plan to join us - it isn’t too early to start planning! The effect of Jewish, Unitarian and Protestant clergy and lay people together talking to legislators is awesome and we look forward to your involvement.

September 2007 e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 6
September 26, 2007
14 Tishrei, 5768

Welcome to the September e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!

The January-June session of the New York State Legislature may have ended, but there is still work to be done. RJV will be traveling throughout the state this fall, and we would love to come to your neighborhood!

In this month’s e-newsletter:
1. L’Shanah Tovah: New Initiatives for a New Year!
2. In the News
3. Get Active with RJV
4. Save the date: Three Events You Won’t Want to Miss

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,
Alyson Grant, Program Director 
Arleen Urell, Chairperson

1. L’Shanah Tovah: New Initiatives for a New Year!

As the year 5768 begins, Reform Jewish Voice has stepped up our involvement in fighting for welfare reform as well as further involvement in calling for greater access to health care in NYS.

In the coming months, RJV representatives will be meeting with Dennis Whalen, NYS Secretary of Health and Human Services as well as participating in press conferences and activities in an effort to increase the Basic Allowance of the Public Assistance grant. New York continues to have the highest poverty rate of all of the northeastern and midwestern states. According to the Census Bureau data for 2005-06, New York’s poverty rate was 14.3 percent—twelfth among the 50 states and well above the national average, which remained relatively flat at 12.5 percent. New York’s low welfare payments contribute to hunger and homelessness. While statewide data are not available, we know there are 350,000 Jews (over 20%) among those in poverty in NYC alone.

Please stay tuned for action steps. We are working hard to make sure we are the most effective advocates possible on these important topics. RJV will need to press the Governor to include funding in the 2008 budget. Please see the RJV position paper on poverty reduction by clicking here.

2. NYS Department of Health & Governor Support Real Sexuality Education

RJV applauds Dr David Daines, NYS Commissioner of Health who announced that the state will no longer accept $3.7 million of federal funding for the failed Abstinence Only Program. The state has cancelled all abstinence-only education programs and will redirect the $2.6 million of state money required to match that amount to age-appropriate comprehensive sex education. Dr. Daines and Governor Spitzer picked up the issue after the State Senate failed to pass the Health Teens Act during the last session.

Please visit the Planned Parenthood website to send a thank you letter to Governor Spitzer.

3. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers. We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

We need champions every day! Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message. Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit or becoming a congregational liaison.

4. Save the dates:

October 19, 2007: Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) Legislative Breakfast on “Poverty on Long Island: Housing, Homelessness and Hunger"
A legislative breakfast, entitled, “Poverty on Long Island: Housing, Hunger and Homelessness,” will be held at Central Synagogue of Nassau County in Rockville Centre on October 19th, 2007 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. The event is sponsored by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the LI Social Action Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism, Greater New York Chapter.

The breakfast will include keynotes by Bill Ayres, executive director of World Hunger Year, as well as Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, who will discuss the Jewish perspective on social and economic justice. In addition, a formerly homeless individual from the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing will share their personal experience with homelessness. Breakfast will be provided for a small fee. For more information and to register for the event, contact Alyson Grant, agrant@urj.org, or call 212 650 4272.

March 9, 2008: NYS Consultation on Conscience
The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state.

April 28, 2008: Second Annual Interfaith Advocacy Day
The 2nd Annual Interfaith Advocacy Date will take place on Monday, April 28 in Albany! More than 70 activists joined us in Albany for a day of learning and action. Please plan to join us - it isn’t too early to start planning! The effect of Jewish, Unitarian and Protestant clergy and lay people together talking to legislators is awesome and we look forward to your involvement.

July 2007 e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 5
July 16, 2007
1 Av, 5767

Welcome to the July e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!

With the end of the January-June session of the New York State Legislature on June 21, we are taking a look back at the session and what took place related to the issues we care about most.

In this month’s e-newsletter:
1. Legislative Update: Session Wrap-up!
2. Get Active with RJV
3. What’s Happening Around the State?
4. Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue
5. Save the date: Two Events You Won’t Want to Miss

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,
Alyson Grant, Program Director
Arleen Urell, Chairperson

1. Legislative Update: What’s news in Albany?

The New York State Legislature went on recess on June 21 Thank you to all who were advocates – whether it was online, on the phone, or in person in your legislator’s office or during our Advocacy Day in Albany. Read on for a recap of the January-June legislative session.

Healthy Teens Act – New York has no designated funding stream for comprehensive sex education. In early May, the New York State Senate Health Committee advanced the Healthy Teens Act (A.2856/S.1342) with a favorable report on the bill. The Healthy Teens Act would provide resources to fund age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education for youth in New York State. The bill passed the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, on March 27 by a vote of 130-11. Now the Senate must take the stop to pass this important piece of legislation. Take Action Now!

Access to Health Care - Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor David Paterson have directed the Health Commissioner and the Insurance Superintendent to develop a comprehensive strategy for universal health insurance for New York State. The Commissioner and Superintendent will develop a final proposal for universal coverage and any interim steps toward that goal by May 31, 2008. We applaud this step and are hopeful for an open, fair public hearing process.

Marriage Equality – In a historic move, the State Assembly passed the marriage equality bill (A.8590) with a vote of 85-61. We commend the Assembly for taking this step, and are hopeful that the bill will be re-introduced next session. To read a memo in support, please visit www.rjvnys.org.

Tuition Tax Deductions – As in previous years, RJV took part in an advocacy campaign against providing tuition tax deductions in New York State in the spring of 2007. We proved successful yet again, as funding for tuition tax deductions for private and parochial education was not included in the New York State Budget for the fiscal year 2007-2008. We are pleased that this topic was not brought to the floor of the State Legislature in the remaining months of this legislative session

Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act - The Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act (S5829, no Assembly bill yet) will take the principles underlying Roe v. Wade and put it squarely into New York law, ensuring that every individual has a fundamental right to privacy with respect to personal medical decisions. RJV is a member of the Alliance for Women’s Health, and has sent a memo in support of this act to the Governor and to all members of the State Legislature. Read our memo of support for the RHPPA here.

Death Penalty – The NYS Senate voted in favor of reinstating the death penalty (S319). Fortunately, this legislation stalled and it did not move forward in the Assembly. We are opposed to the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York, and applaud the State Assembly for not taking action to legalize the death penalty.

Darfur – In mid-June, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announceddivestment from companies that are funding the Sudanese government's campaign of murder, violence and displacement. New York is the 14th state to move toward divesting. This is a victory, and we are pleased to inform everyone of this success as well as to say thank you to those who contacted Comptroller DiNapoli's office.  RJV sent a memo on this important issue to the comptroller’s office – read it by clicking here.

Human Trafficking - On May 21, Governor Spitzer and NYS lawmakers agreed to make labor- and sex-trafficking felonies. We commend this action. Assemblyman Dinowitz is the sponsor of the Assembly legislation (A8679), and Senator Padavan is the sponsor of the Senate legislation (S5902). We applaud both chambers for taking action on this important and timely issue.

Emergency Contraception Access – In May, the NYS Assembly passed the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act (A.5569-Paulin/S.3579 Winner) by a vote of 108 to 27.  In addition to allowing pharmacists to dispense EC directly at the pharmacy counter to all women, this act would also require insurance coverage of the new over-the-counter version of EC.  To read more about our position on this topic, click here.

Thank you for your action on these issues! Please check RJV’s website – www.rjvnys.org – for updates and more information, under the “latest news” and “advocacy” sections. Make sure your voice continues to be heard on issues of importance to you as a member of the Reform Jewish Movement. Please visit the New York State Legislative Action Center by clicking here for contact information and action alerts.

2. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers.  We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

We need champions every day!  Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message.

Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit or becoming a congregational liaison.

3. What’s happening around the state?

Rabbi Shoshanna King-Tornberg, a rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, wrote a compelling article in the Times Union Newspaper of Albany about the Healthy Teens Act:

 If I have learned one thing from my rabbinic work with teens, it is
how much the world underestimates them. Teens are smart, curious and
capable. Many have a strong sense of justice and deep levels of
social obligation. We should be grateful. They inherit the problems
that our world faces, and they will have to be part of the solution.
But with all of their abilities and potential, they still need
guidance. They still need information. They do not need patronizing.

This year, the Healthy Teens Act (A.2856/S.1342) has passed the
Assembly with tremendous bipartisan support and awaits Senate
approval. The bill would help fund age-appropriate, medically
accurate sex education for young New Yorkers.

 > Please click here to read more. < 

4. Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue

Following up on the highly successful Hanukah light bulb campaign, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), in partnership with the Religious Action Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, has launched the next phase of its A Light Among the Nations initiative called, “Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue.” Aimed at engaging elected officials in dialogue around the issue of climate change, this initiative encourages congregations to invite U.S. Senators and Representatives, Governors, State Legislators, Mayors, and others to their synagogues to participate in meaningful conversations about solutions to this environmental crisis.

A number of online resources have been created to help congregations participate in the “Conservation Conversation” campaign. Sample invitation letters, agendas, questions, background materials and advocacy guides are available online. For more information visit the campaign homepage at http://www.rac.org/climatechange.  

 5. Save the dates:

March 9, 2008: NYS Consultation on Conscience

The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state.

October 19, 2007: Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) Legislative Breakfast on “Poverty on Long Island: Housing, Homelessness and Hunger." Sponsored by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the Long Island Social Action Committee of Greater New York Council of the Union for Reform Judaism
Where: Central Synagogue of Nassau County, 430 DeMott Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY
Time:     8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

June 2007 e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 4
June 1, 2007
15 Sivan 5767

Welcome to the June e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!

The New York State Legislature is scheduled to recess for the year on June 21 – RJV has already made an impact during the 2007 Legislative Session.  But a lot remains to be done! During these next three weeks are when the most action takes place in the Capitol. Be sure to speak truth to power!  Raise your voice!

In this month’s e-newsletter:

1. Legislative Update: What’s news in Albany?
2. Get Active with RJV!
3. Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue
4. Other Happenings: Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights and Pride Month
5. Save the date: NYS Consultation on Conscience on March 9, 2008

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,

Alyson Grant                            Arleen Urell
Program Director                      Chairperson


1. Legislative Update: What’s news in Albany?

Over the last month, several issues of importance have been discussed in the state capitol.  Thank you to those who have taken action online and on the phone. Read on for a recap of recent legislative actions and how you can help. When contacting your legislator, be sure to mention that you are a member of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State.

Marriage Equality – In late April, Governor Spitzer proposed a marriage equality program bill, which is now being sponsored by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). Senator Tom Duane (D-Manhattan) will be the co-sponsor in the Senate.  The bill (A.8590) was introduced in the Assembly with a record 53 co-sponsors – and at least 16 other Assembly members have promised to vote in favor of the bill. We support this bill. To read a memo in support, please visit www.rjvnys.org. Contact your legislators to support this bill and bring it to the floor of the Assembly. Click here to be connected to action alert. 

Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act - New York was one of the first states in the nation to legalize abortion and has been a proactive pioneer in the reproductive rights movement. Our state was one of the first to decriminalize abortion, by modifying the penal code in 1970. That law was a bold step at the time, but it is now outdated. The Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act (S5829, no Assembly bill yet) will take the principles underlying Roe v. Wade and put it squarely into New York law, ensuring that every individual has a fundamental right to privacy with respect to personal medical decisions. RJV is a member of the Alliance for Women’s Health, and has sent a memo in support of this act to the Governor and to all members of the State Legislature. An action alert will be coming soon.

Death Penalty – The NYS Senate voted in favor of reinstating the death penalty (S319). Fortunately, this legislation has stalled and it is not expected to move forward in the Assembly, as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stated that he, along with his chamber, no longer supports the death penalty. We are opposed to the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York, and applaud Speaker Silver for his statement.  Thank you for your action on this issue!

Darfur – NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has not begun the divestment process. It is important that New York divest from the worst offending foreign companies that contribute to the genocide in Darfur. Twelve states have already approved Sudan divestment, and New York should join these as well. We have joined the Genocide Intervention Network in their call-in campaign to Comptroller DiNapoli. Call Comptroller DiNapoli and ask for his support - click here for an action alert on this issue and his phone number.

Human Trafficking - On May 21, Governor Spitzer and NYS lawmakers agreed to make labor- and sex-trafficking felonies. We commend this action. Assemblyman Dinowitz is the sponsor of the Assembly legislation (A8679), and Senator Padavan is the sponsor of the Senate legislation (S5902). We applaud both chambers for taking action on this important and timely issue. Contact your legislators to inquire about their positions on this bill. Tell them that you and RJV support it. Be sure to thank those who will vote in favor of it.

Emergency Contraception Access – On May 29, NYS Assembly passed the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act (A.5569-Paulin/S.3579 Winner) by a vote of 108 to 27.  In addition to allowing pharmacists to dispense EC directly at the pharmacy counter to all women, this act would also require insurance coverage of the new over-the-counter version of EC.  Please call and thank your Assemblymember if they voted ‘yes’, or express disapproval on their ‘no’ vote. A listing of votes can be found here.  We applaud the Assembly for passage of this bill. To read more about our position on this topic, click here.

We continue to work on these and many other issues. Please check RJV’s website – www.rjvnys.org – for updates and more information, under the “latest news” and “advocacy” sections. Make sure your voice continues to be heard on issues of importance to you as a member of the Reform Jewish Movement. Become an online advocate! Call your legislators or take action online. All position papers and talking points are online – click here for a full listing. Please visit the New York State Legislative Action Center by clicking here for contact information and action alerts.

2. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers.  We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

We need champions every day!  Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message. Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit or becoming a congregational liaison.

3. Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue

Following up on the highly successful Hanukah light bulb campaign, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), in partnership with the Religious Action Center and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, has launched the next phase of its A Light Among the Nations initiative called, “Conservation Conversations: Invite your Elected Official to Synagogue.” Aimed at engaging elected officials in dialogue around the issue of climate change, this initiative encourages congregations to invite U.S. Senators and Representatives, Governors, State Legislators, Mayors, and others to their synagogues to participate in meaningful conversations about solutions to this environmental crisis.

A number of online resources have been created to help congregations participate in the “Conservation Conversation” campaign. Sample invitation letters, agendas, questions, background materials and advocacy guides are available online. For more information visit the campaign homepage at http://www.rac.org/climatechange.

4. Other Happenings this Month:

Town Hall Event, Peace in the Home: Domestic Work in NY State
Thursday, 6/7, 6:30pm at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, NYC

Domestic Workers United (DWU), New York Jobs with Justice, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) are hosting a special event about the future of New York. They represent thousands of New Yorkers who believe and work toward creating just and sustainable communities. Everyday, 200,000 domestic workers (nannies, eldercare providers, housekeepers) in New York State make it possible for their employers to go to work; most are employed without a living wage, healthcare, and basic labor protections.  Representing both domestic workers and employers, we want to ensure that these workers are treated with dignity and respect. Speakers will include AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich, NYS Assembly Member Keith Wright, NYS Labor Commissioner Patricia Smith, domestic workers, domestic employers and more. It's time to have this important discussion and show community support domestic workers rights. Save your spot now! To RSVP and find out more, contact: danielle@jfrej.org, 212-647-8966 ext. 11

June is Gay Pride Month! Pride in the Pulpit is encouraging congregations across the state to celebrate!  During Pride month there are many things that your congregation can do to celebrate and affirm gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Do a service, a sermon, a picnic, or a game night. Be Proud and Celebrate with Pride.

5. Save the date: March 9, 2008 NYS Consultation on Conscience

The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State and the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state.

May 2007 e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 3
May 2, 2007
14 Iyyar

Welcome to the May e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!

RJV has already made an impact during the 2007 Legislative Session, and there have been many opportunities to have our voices heard throughout the state and in Albany on important issues.

The RJV and Interfaith Impact of New York State Interfaith Advocacy Day on April 23 was a success – but there is still so much more we can do! Read below for more information. There are many ways you can make an impact at home: visit your state legislators in their district offices and be an online advocate. Make sure your voice is heard on issues of importance to you as a member of the Reform Jewish Movement.

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,

Alyson Grant                            Arleen Urell
Program Director                      Chairperson

 

1. Interfaith Advocacy Day: Wrap-up and Next Steps
2. Get Active with RJV!
3. New York State & Divestment from Sudan
4. Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism: Fain Award Winners in NYS
5. Save the date: NYS Consultation on Conscience on March 9, 2008

1. Interfaith Advocacy Day: Wrap-up and Next Steps

On Monday, April 23, over 70 participants met with legislators to advocate for social and economic justice issues, including access to health care for all New Yorkers, the Healthy Teens Act, which provides a dedicated funding stream for comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education in New York State, and in support of marriage equality for same gender couples. Advocates also discussed their opposition to tuition tax deductions to parents of children that attend private and religious schools, as we are dedicated to the separation of church and state. Our meetings were productive and we left behind our position papers to ensure that legislators take note of our progressive religious voice in future legislative deliberations.

Preceding Interfaith Advocacy Day, there was a legislative briefing and informal dinner held at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany on Sunday, April 22. Approximately 40 people attended these activities. At the briefing we heard from Artie Malkin, a progressive lobbyist who works on many issues we are passionate about, as well as Nora Yates of Empire State Pride Agenda on marriage equality, and Susan Pedo of Family Planning Advocates of New York State on the Healthy Teens Act.

Couldn’t be at Interfaith Advocacy Day? Take action at home! Call your legislators or take action online. All position papers and talking points are online – click here for a full listing. Please visit the New York State Legislative Action Center by clicking here for contact information and action alerts.

2. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers.  We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

We need champions every day!  Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message.

Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit or becoming a congregational liaison.

3. New York State & Divestment from Sudan

RJV continues to monitor the efforts in New York State to divest from Sudan. As of May 1, 2007, the New York State Comptroller’s office continues to negotiate with activists regarding the investments of New York State, and whether they will be divested from Sudan. It is not within the scope of the State Legislature to direct the actions of the State Comptroller’s office, so legislation that does not violate that notion has been difficult to write and is still in the drafting process.

We will keep you updated on the status of divestment from Sudan on the state level. This is an issue of great important to the Reform Jewish movement and we will mobilize all of you to take action at the appropriate time.

Position of the Reform Jewish Movement: The board of the Union for Reform Judaism recently passed a resolution calling for targeted divestment from Sudan. The new resolution addresses the failures of the diplomatic process thus far in Darfur and calls for targeted divestment from Sudan of Reform Movement endowment funds to the extent feasible, as well as encourages congregations’ and congregants’ involvement in local divestment campaigns.

4. Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism Fain Award Winners from NYS

Congratulations to the 2007 Irving J. Fain Social Action Award Winners from New York State! The winning programs represent models of outstanding synagogue social action programs.

The winners are:

  • B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation of Albany, NY: Capital District Alliance for Universal Heath Care
  • Congregation Rodeph Sholom of New York, NY: One Voice to Save Choice
  • Temple Beth Torah of Nyack, NY: Tax Assistance Program
  • Union Temple of Brooklyn, NY: Partnership with HOPE
  • Shared Award: Public School Partnerships -
    • Central Synagogue of New York, NY: PS 84
    • Congregation Gates of Heaven of Schenectady, NY: Schenectady Day Nursery Project
    • Temple Brith Kodesh of Rochester, NY: School 52 Partnership
  • Shared Award: Darfur Awareness Programs – Temple Beth El, Monroe Temple of Liberal Judaism of Monroe, New York: March for Darfur  
  • Honorable Mentions:
    • Central Synagogue of Nassau County in Rockville Centre, NY: Battle of the Bands
    • Long Island Social Action Committee of the Greater New York Council: Mitzvah Project Kick-Off

For more information on these and other programs go to www.rac.org/programbank

 5. Save the date: NYS Consultation on Conscience on March 9, 2008

The NYS Consultation will be held in New York City at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and is a joint effort of the URJ Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues and Reform Jewish Voice of New York State. We look forward to a day full of important speakers, interesting panels, and a gathering of advocates from across the state.

January Edition of RJV e-Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 2
January 30, 2007
11 Sh'vat

Welcome to the second e-newsletter from Reform Jewish Voice of New York State!

We are looking forward to an exciting 2007 Legislative Session, as there will be many opportunities to have our voices heard throughout the state and in Albany. Save the date for the RJV and Interfaith Impact of New York State Interfaith Advocacy Day on April 23! Read below for more information. Additionally, you can always make an impact at home – visit your state legislators in their district offices. Make sure your voice is heard on issues of importance to you as a member of the Reform Jewish Movement.

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,
Alyson Grant, Program Director
Arleen Urell, Chairperson

1. Opening of the 2007 State Legislature: What’s Happening in Albany?

2. Mark Your Calendars: April 23, 2007 Albany Advocacy Day!

3. Get active with RJV!

4. RAC Consultation on Conscience: April 15-17, 2007

1. Opening of the 2007 State Legislature: What’s Happening in Albany?

The 2007 Legislative Session opened on Monday, January 8th, soon after Governor Eliot Spitzer’s first State of the State address on January 3rd.

In the State of the State, Governor Spitzer outlined his goals for the coming year. He highlighted four topics high on the RJV agenda: healthcare, education, housing and government reform. Clickherefor the full transcript of his speech.

The Governor will submit his budget to the Legislature tomorrow, January 31st. After this submission, we will see if he will take action on the issues that he outlined in the State of the State address and throughout his campaign. Stay tuned – a RJV Budget Review will be available in early February!

2. Mark Your Calendars: April 23, 2007 Albany Advocacy Day

RJV and Interfaith Impact of NYS are co-sponsoring the 2007 Interfaith Advocacy Day, to take place onMonday, April 23rd in Albany. Save the date to participate in what should prove to be an exciting and active day in the State Capitol!

Registration forms are available online byclicking here.

We will have the opportunity to meet with state legislators and other key policy makers to engage in a dialogue about topics of importance to our community. The issues that we plan to discuss are: funding for stem cell research,health care reform, education funding, and marriage equality. Please visit our website for our policy positions, which are consistent with those of the Reform Jewish Movement. These issues are subject to refinement based on actions of the legislature in the coming months.

3. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers. We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

Have you considered including advocacy training with your congregation’s Mitzvah Day? RJV can assist you. We can train the trainers in advance or actually be a part of your congregation’s Mitzvah Day program. OR RJV can bring advocacy training program at any time that you’d like.

We need champions every day! Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message.

Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit or becoming a congregational liaison.

4. RAC Consultation on Conscience: April 15-17, 2007

Please visit the RAC website for more information on the 2007 Consultation on Conscience, which will be held in Washington, DC. Reform Jewish Voice of New York will be hosting a lunch on Tuesday, April 17 – we hope to see you there!

Register online at www.rac.org/consultation

 

Published by Reform Jewish Voice of New York State

RJV e-Newsletter: Inaugural Edition

Volume 1, Number 1
November 15, 2006
24 Cheshvan

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the RJV E-newsletter!

All of us that are a part of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV), a committee of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, are excited to be launching this brand new e-Newsletter. RJV e-Newsletters will provide updates on matters of concern in New York State as well as ways to become involved in statewide advocacy. Many issues of importance to the Reform Jewish community are being debated in our state legislatures, and we hope that you will help bring our Reform Jewish values to Albany through RJV.

To find out more about RJV, please visit www.rjvnys.org or contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org or 212-650-4272.

L’Shalom,

Alyson Grant, Program Director
Arleen Urell, Chairperson

In this issue:

1. Get active with RJV!
2. Save the Date! April 23, 2007 Albany Advocacy Day
3. A look ahead: Advocacy Issues for Spring 2007
4. Opportunities to lobby in Albany
5. RJV Featured in Fall 2006 Tzedek V’Shalom
6. RAC Consultation on Conscience: April 15-17, 2007

1. Get Active with RJV!

RJV would like to come to your neighborhood!

We look forward to visiting your congregation to talk about RJV and its importance in bringing Reform Jewish values to NYS policy makers. We would like to talk to your congregation, your Social Action Committee, your board or anyone interested in social justice!

Have you considered including advocacy training with your congregation’s Mitzvah Day? RJV can assist you. We can train the trainers in advance or actually be a part of your congregation’s Mitzvah Day program. OR RJV can bring advocacy training program at any time that you’d like.

Please contact Alyson at agrant@urj.org if you are interested in setting up a visit.

2. Save the Date! April 23, 2007 Albany Advocacy Day

RJV and Interfaith Impact of NYSare co-sponsoring the 2007 Albany Advocacy Day, to take place on Monday, April 23rd in Albany. More information will be available soon, so please mark you calendar. BUT we need champions every day! Who in your congregation would like to be a champion for the Reform Movement’s values? We are looking for a few people from each congregation in the state who are willing to visit their legislators in their home districts to bring RJV’s message.

3. A look ahead: Advocacy Issues for the 2007 Legislative Session

Over the past few years, RJV has advocated on several important issues, including: support of same sex marriage, raising the minimum wage, providing emergency contraception and funding stem cell research, including embryonic stem cells. Additionally, we have opposed the death penalty and tax credits for private education. We expect that these issues will continue to be important advocacy issues next session as well as others! Our 2007 Legislative Agenda will be developed in the next few months and broadcast through E-newsletters and Action Alerts.

Are YOU passionate about specific issues? What would you like to see on our agenda? Please tell us WHAT and WHY by contacting Alyson at agrant@urj.org.

This month RJV signed on to an amicus brief stating our opposition to the death penalty, specifically in response to a case waiting to be heard in the New York State Court of Appeals. This effort was organized by New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty. You can read more the Reform Movement’s position on the death penalty here.

4. Opportunities to Lobby in Albany

In addition to RJV’s April 23, 2007 Albany Advocacy Day, there are other opportunities to lobby with RJV’s coalition partners this spring:

5. RJV Featured in the Fall 2006 Tzedek V’Shalom

The latest issue of Tzedek V’Shalom, the Social Justice Newsletter of the Commission on Social Action, is now available on line at www.urj.org/csa. You will find an article on the Reform Jewish Voice and news from the Religious Action Center regarding becoming politically active on the local level. Check it out!