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August 2014

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I joined the bone marrow registry at a Gift of Life drive when I was a first year at UNC-Chapel Hill. The NC Hillel director at the time, Or Mars, also joined the registry that day. While I have been hoping ever since to be someone’s match, that day has yet to come. Though I’m not destined to be a match (yet), it’s remarkable how the stars have still seemed to align in other ways almost ten years later. I manage the RAC-Gift of Life partnership, and specifically, spend a lot of my time helping congregations across the US organize bone marrow drives on Yom Kippur. As you’ll read below, Or became a match for a young boy a few years after swabbing. Amazingly, his story is deeply intertwined with Yom Kippur, and to top it off, his wife is a rabbi at a participating Yom Kippur congregation this year!

Enjoy his story below, and be in touch with me to learn about all the ways to get involved with our partnership with Gift of Life.

Washington, D.C., August 20, 2014 - In response to the unrest in Ferguson, MO, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the followin

As someone who has traveled a good amount, I can’t say I’m always proud of some of the American stereotypes that are out there, worst of all - that Americans are overweight. This is more than a stereotype nowadays when one in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese. In order to fight the past few decades’ transition to unhealthy behavior, First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move Campaign in 2010.

We are thrilled to welcome (L-R in the picture) Rachel, Jordan, Liya, Melanie, Claire and Jonathan to the Religious Action Center on their first day as the new Eisendrath Legislative Assistants. Over the next two weeks, the LAs will learn about the RAC, the Reform Movement, and how we do our social justice work within the larger community of advocates in Washington, D.C. This class is as bright, thoughful, and committed to tikkun olam as ever, and we can't wait to see the work they will accomplish in their year with us!

By Joy Friedman 

Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR) has good news to share! ROR, a project of the Reform Movement’s social justice initiatives: the Justice and Peace Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center, and Just Congregations, has spent the last year and a half working for justice for immigrants and the rights of American citizenship through immigration reform.

Millions of undocumented workers and families in America are forced to live in the shadows due to outdated and discriminatory immigration laws. If Senate Bill 744 had become law, many of those immigrants would have had a path to citizenship. Without the passage of badly needed reform, thousands of immigrants are torn from their families every day through deportation. At the spring Commission on Social Action meeting, the CSA approved Rabbis Organizing Rabbis’ new Immigration Reform strategy: defending undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Last week, after quick vetting by the CSA, a minyan of rabbinic ROR leaders made their first foray into deportation defense. Working with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), ROR leaders helped to save Yestel Velazquez, a New Orleans community and civil rights leader, from imminent deportation!

Years ago homelessness was only found on the streets of cities, a phenomenon hidden from rural and suburban towns. However with a population of over 3.5 million people per year, homelessness is an issue that has spread to all areas of the country.

We have lost a giant: Leonard "Leibel" Fein, patriarch of American Jewish liberalism, RAC Senior Adviser, and former director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, has died at 80. Our grief can no more be summed up than in the endless tributes to Leibel's gifts and leadership of Jewish causes.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal…for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition.” – Justice Robert Kennedy, Majority Opinion in U.S. v. Windsor

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in this landmark case, declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act – which defined a spouse as someone of the opposite sex and marriage as a union between one man and one woman – unconstitutional. Following this decision, there was a surge in the fight for marriage equality all over the country.  There are currently 19 states along with the District of Columbia that have removed bans on same-sex marriage.  Recently, states have been overturning bans on same-sex marriage every other week.  It seems that the movement for marriage equality and LGBT rights is at its highest and most successful point.  But it’s not.

Today is our last day as legislative assistants at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. None of us imagined on August 20, 2013 – our very first day – that this year would have gone by so fast. It is has been an incredible honor to serve and represent our vibrant, passionate Movement in Washington, D.C.; one that we will cherish always.

As President Obama deliberates over approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, sent the following letter to the Whit