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This Week at the RAC: New LA Class, ROR Victory, Statement on Events in Ferguson

This Week at the RAC: New LA Class, ROR Victory, Statement on Events in Ferguson

The Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Class of 2014-2015 began work on Tuesday and is deep into the orientation program. This is my favorite time of year, when the new LAs infuse the office with their energy and enthusiasm, but also because it's an excuse for me to invite former LAs back to the RAC to teach the new class.

Yesterday we took a field trip to Capitol Hill, where we met with Sen. Mark Warner's (VA) Legislative Correspondent - aka Charlie Arnowitz, RAC LA Class of 2013-2014. Next week, former LAs will be teaching about global health (Allison Grossman '06-07, Senior Legislative Associate at RESULTS), the separation of church and state (Arielle Gingold '08-09, Associate Director at Bend the Arc Jewish Action), and Israel (Katharine Nasielski '11-12, Director of National Initiatives at the Israeli Embassy). We've also invited all the former LAs in town to join us next week for our annual pizza lunch welcoming the new LAs into the family.

There was great news this week from the Rabbis Organizing Rabbis team that engaged for the first time in the deportation defense strategy that we discussed at the Spring CSA meeting – and had a successful outcome to their efforts. As Just Congregations' Joy Friedman wrote, “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!”

As I know you have, we've been watching the situation in Ferguson, MO with concern and sadness. As the situation unfolded, we were in regular contact with our area rabbis and congregational leaders – hearing from them and sharing our support. I also issued a statement earlier this week, noting that sadly, the circumstances that contributed to the unrest in Ferguson are not unique to that community.

The challenges of racial divides and mistrust that afflict communities across the U.S. are a tragic emblem of how much work remains to be done to overcome divisions rooted in our nation's history and the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens in America, these economic inequalities are having a detrimental effect on communities where opportunities are shrinking every day. Thankfully, things seem to be quieting a bit in Ferguson over the last 36 hours, and we are hopeful that this phase of unrest is coming to an end just as Shabbat arrives.

The Nothing But Nets Malaria Fellowship application is open, so please send our way any great college students you know. In partnership with the UN Foundation and Nothing But Nets, the Malaria Fellowship gives students enrolled in an undergraduate degree program the opportunity to raise awareness and funds to fight malaria on their college campuses and to explore the world of global health advocacy. Students selected for the new class of Fellows will serve from October 2014-May 2015. The application is online here.

Ha'aretz ran a touching piece about our former CSA Director, Leibel Fein, who passed away last week. Unfortunately, it's behind a paywall, but if you have a subscription, you can read it here.

Finally, remember that registration for the Fall CSA meeting in Atlanta October 25-28 is open! We'll begin the program with havdalah at 7 p.m. and end at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. We have also reserved a room block at the Loews Atlanta hotel, near The Temple, where most of our meeting will be. I look forward to seeing you there, and to exploring together the unique role Atlanta has played on civil rights issues, as we mark 50 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act.