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May 2015


On Sunday, we celebrated the incredible mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters in our lives. . While Mother’s Day is an important moment to show our mothers how much we love and appreciate them, we also know that there are so other ways to do so year round.

We know that we can advocate for a society with equal pay for equal work, where we not only provide domestic violence victims  with the best access to care and services, but we work to end violence against women, that gives all workers paid sick days, and where workers are paid a fair wage.

On Sunday, we celebrated the mothers in our lives, thanking them for their love, support and hard work balancing childcare, family responsibilities and work—both paid and unpaid. Today more than ever, moms have entered the paid labor force to support themselves and their families. A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family—nearly double the number from 40 years ago. Women comprise half of the entire paid labor force, and three-quarters of mothers work outside the home. Most families now need two breadwinners to make ends meet. Simply put, women and families rely on women’s earnings.

We know all too well that women on average earn just 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Did you also know that mothers are paid only 70 cents for every dollar that fathers make? That’s right—mothers who work full time, year round earn on average $40,000 compared to fathers’ $56,999. For comparison, women without children make 90 cents on the male dollar, and single moms make just 60 cents.

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is joining this week with both faith and secular partners, across denominations and sectors around the United States, to urge Congress to support allocations for the Green Climate Fund in budget appropriations.

Two weeks ago, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law, increasing the number of states that have expanded Medicaid to twenty-nine, plus the District of Columbia. However, concerns from the White House over provisions in the Medicaid expansion bill highlight the difficulty of expanding Medicaid in red states.

Late last Wednesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the final deals to form his new coalition government. The coalition, which has a bare majority of 61 of the 120 Members of Knesset, comprises five parties: Netanyahu’s Likud (30 seats), ultra-nationalist Habayit Hayehudi (8 seats), ultra-Orthodox Shas (7 seats) and United Torah Judaism (6 seats) and center-right Kulanu (10 seats). Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ, sent a note of congratulations to Prime Minister Netanyahu:

With the budget process moving along, the appropriations process also kicks in. Budget season allows for the president and the two chambers of Congress to lay out their priorities vis-à-vis funding levels for government programs and agencies. The appropriations process is when Congress sets the amounts in real funds, and requires a lot of negotiations and debate. And, the possibility that all the important government programs that need full funding will get it is slim.

The House Appropriations Committee began by taking the sequester-level cap of $1.017 trillion used in the GOP budget (effectively frozen from the current year) and dividing it up among the 12 spending bills. These allocations – known as 302(b)s, and which set funding levels for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees – were approved last Wednesday.

On Friday May 1, a number of us boarded the MARC train to Baltimore on our way to a march and rally organized by Jews United for Justice. We were once again disappointed and outraged by the death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police. Though we were standing up for justice for Freddie Gray, we knew that we were also asking for justice in our broader criminal justice system.

In a month, we will mark LGBT Pride Month which occurs every year in June, the month of the Stonewall Riots. On June 28, 1969, riots erupted following a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City by police. The Stonewall Riots are considered by many as the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement, and each June various cities and organizations hold events to celebrate LGBT pride.

On Thursday, the Senate passed important legislation for the Iran nuclear talks, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (also known as “the Corker bill”), by an overwhelming vote of 98-1. Applauding the vote, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the RAC, released the following statement:

We applaud the passage of a clean Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. The overwhelming support for this important bill makes clear that stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is a bipartisan issue of concern to all Americans.  We call on the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Senate’s version of the bill, so that attention can turn to the issue that really matters: negotiating a deal that ensures that Iran cannot obtain nuclear weapons. To that end, we reiterate our call to the Obama administration to remain firm in its commitment to resolve the negotiations successfully on favorable terms.

This post originally appeared as a WRJ Weekly Digest.

This year, 45,000 women and children will spend Mother’s Day in shelters for survivors of domestic abuse. WRJ is proud to partner for the second year with Jewish Women International (JWI) to send bouquets of flowers and baskets of beauty products to 200 shelters across the U.S., offering hope and encouragement to moms and their children. For every $25 contribution you make, JWI will send a Mother’s Day card to any woman you choose, letting her know that she’s inspired a gift that’s helping women in need.