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August 2015

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In Parashat Eikev, Moses delivers three speeches to the people he has lead from slavery to freedom through the desert and who are now about to enter the Promised Land, the eretz zavat chalav u' d'vash (land of milk and honey) (Deuteronomy 11:9). Although their entry to this land will be fraught with battles and some losses, the eventual rewards, promised by God, will amply justify these initial terrifying encounters with the nations who worship idols and other gods. However, as Moses emphatically declares to the people, God’s rewards will only be fulfilled if they remember not only God’s gifts to them, but also their past misdemeanours. It is imperative that the people recall both God’s promises and their rebellious behaviours in order to maintain and fulfil God’s covenant.

By Jonah Baskin

In this week’s parsha, parshat Eikev, Moses continues his final speech to the Israelites before they enter the land, much of which is devoted to admonishments to remember the mitzvot and the various punishments for failure to comply.  Moses cautions the Israelites not to forget that God ultimately ensures their prosperity, “lest when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses, and live within them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that is yours is multiplied… you will say in your heart: ‘My own power and the might of my own hand have produced this wealth for me.’” (Deuteronomy, 8:12-17) This caution against arrogance is interesting because it represents a unique strain of the vice that is easy to forget about. 

This is a 40 day+ march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C.  The Central Conference of American Rabbis is partnering with the Religious Action Center,

Rabbi Denise L. Eger

On August 1, 2015, I was lucky enough to pronounce the final benediction at a ceremony beginning the NAACP‘s 45-day 

Rabbi Seth Limmer

This weekend marks one year since Michael Brown was shot and killed in the street by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. As we take this moment to reflect on the past year, I am reminded of the Jewish tradition’s unique way of coping with death, to help mourners gradually reenter into normal life after the death of a loved one.

There are too many Americans struggling to make it paycheck to paycheck because of insufficient wages, and this struggle is further exacerbated by numerous other issues, including payday lending.

A payday loan is a small loan that is framed as being an easy way to help borrowers and to hold them over until they receive their next payment. These loans are typically around $500 or less, and are usually due on a worker’s next payday. Yet these loans do the opposite of creating relief for borrowers.

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule for the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to significantly reduce carbon emissions through regulating coal power plants along with other mitigation strategies. The plan is expected to cut carbon emissions in the United States by up to 30%, making it a significant move to mitigate climate change in parallel with other greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies like regulating heavy duty vehicles and limiting methane. The rule is likely to shift conversations in some states from coal and other non-renewable fossil fuel resources to clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. In announcing this historic rule, President Obama said: “Climate change is no longer just about the future that we're predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it's about the reality that we're living with every day, right now.”

I remember going to a movie for the first time after the Aurora shooting. I don’t remember what movie I saw, but I do remember a strong desire to sit in the back row, so that if there were gunfire, I would be facing the right direction to see what was going on. When I saw that the back row was full, I took a nervous glance behind me, putting shaky trust in those sitting behind me to preserve my safety. The lights dimmed and the movie started, and I quickly became engrossed in the movie and forgot about my fear. Soon enough, the lights came on, and I walked out unharmed.

Human rights and Bedouin advocates are breathing a sigh of relief this week, now that the elementary school in the Bedouin village of Al-Sayyid has been connected to the power grid, four decades after it was built. The four other schools in the village will be hooked up to the power grid by the time school starts in September. This movement comes in the wake of a petition to Israel’s High Court of Justice, which convinced the Israel Electric Corporation to connect these schools to the power grid.

by Sandy and Rachel Adland

Registration is now open for WRJ Assembly 2015 Nov. 4-8 in Orlando, FL, a great experience for everyone in the family! Read about the experience of a mother/daughter duo who attended WRJ Fried Leadership Conference together earlier this year.

Sandy: WRJ has been a big part of who I am for more than half of my life. Through my involvement, I've met women from around the world who share my passion for the work and the mission of WRJ. Facing challenges, becoming stronger leaders, creating community and celebrating Jewish life with my “sisters” is a magical experience that I've always wanted to share with my daughter. So when I had a chance to attend the WRJ Fried Leadership Conference in Austin, TX this January with Rachel by my side, my long-held dream finally came true.

Rachel: I have known about sisterhood my entire life because my mom has been an active member for so long. I knew we had a sisterhood lounge and sisterhood-sponsored events. Now, as a director on my local sisterhood board, I know even more about the ins and outs of the local affiliate. But nothing could have prepared me for what I walked into at WRJ Fried Leadership Conference.