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August 2015

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Last night, the Senate voted 53-46 to block a bill that proposed to strip Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) health centers of key federal funding, which would have seriously undermined the clinic network’s ability to provide critical preventive care to millions of patients. Though many people associate Planned Parenthood with abortion, the organization’s clinics also provide affordable, quality preventive health care and treatment—including routine examinations, cancer screenings, contraceptive services, and HIV and STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing—to 2.7 million people across the U.S. Federal funding enables PPFA health centers to offer these services at a low cost, making them accessible to many patients, including young people, low-income individuals and people of color, who may not otherwise have access to important health care services.

by Amelia Lavranchuk

On Sunday, we welcomed special guest Blair C. Marks to Sci-Tech! Blair is the president of Women of Reform Judaism, an organization that unites sisterhoods and women’s groups in order to strengthen the voice of women throughout the Reform Movement. WRJ is committed to a range of humanitarian causes in addition to advocating for women’s rights. They also seek to promote Jewish engagement and the development of Jewish leaders. We are especially thankful to WRJ for providing us with a grant to support girls attending Sci-Tech this summer! The goal of the grant is to engage our female campers with Judaism as we support them in the pursuit of their interests in science and technology.

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We are participating in the N.A.A.C.P.’s “America's Journey for Justice” is, individually and as part of the collective of 140+ Reform rabbis, a giant step for Justice.

Rabbis Organizing Rabbis

The air stood still in Jerusalem’s Zion Square last night.

More than a thousand teens and young adults gathered there to attend a memorial service organized by the Jerusalem Open House. They came to grieve the loss of Shira Banki, the 16-year old girl who died yesterday afternoon days after being stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox man at last Thursday’s Jerusalem LGBTQ Pride March.

I have always loved musicals. When I was younger, I remember watching the musical Newsies, a movie about a group of young newspaper workers calling for fair treatment in response to new restrictions by newspaper giant Joseph Pulitzer that make it harder for them to earn money. I would belt out “Pulitzer may own the world but he don’t own us” along with my favorite characters. Through song, the characters illustrate what collective bargaining and organizing can be.

In addition, I remember loving Billy Elliot when I first saw it with my family. The scene when Billy’s family members were all marching on strike along with other coal miners was particularly striking for me.  “Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity forever. We’re proud to be working class, solidarity forever,” the coal miners sing. Though they were not the protagonists of the musical, I felt sympathetic to the coal miners’ experiences. How could these workers be experiencing this unjust treatment?

When we last checked in with the Israeli governing coalition in June, we found fractures in the coalition dealing with Israel’s secular-religious divides, such as Religious Minister David Azoulay calling Reform Jews a “disaster for the nation of Israel”. Recently, however, the coalition has found itself embroiled in controversy that is perhaps the most divisive issue in Israel: the settlements. Here are some the stories we’ve been following:

Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order releasing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020. This new strategy builds upon the National/HIV AIDS Strategy that President Obama launched in 2010—the nation’s first comprehensive strategy addressing the issue. This new strategy’s vision is that “the United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.”