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2014 at the RAC: Our Year in Blogs  

2014 at the RAC: Our Year in Blogs  

The (secular) New Year brings new opportunities and new challenges in the world of Jewish social justice. The 114th Congress will convene on January 3, 2015 at noon. As we look towards what 2015 will bring, let’s take a moment to look back at 2014 through 14 RACBlog highlights.

This list is a mix of our most popular blogs or the blogs that represent landmark moments in our programming or observances. Don’t see your favorite blog here? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Reform Rabbis in Israel Receive State Salaries for the First TimeAlthough there is still work to be done to ensure that non-Orthodox Jewry and their rabbis receive full and equal recognition, this step signaled a promising step for pluralism in Israel.
  2. Introducing the Nothing But Nets Malaria FellowsAs part of our partnership with the UN Foundation and Nothing But Nets, we welcomed the first class of “Malaria Fellows” – 10 students from across the country who advanced malaria education and advocacy efforts on their college campuses. Meet the current class!
  3. Yom Kippur Bone Marrow Drives: What is a Life Worth Living. Between the 2013 and 2014 High Holiday seasons, over 100 Reform congregations held bone marrow swab drives, and we’re thrilled that 7 matches have been made so far.
  4. In January 2014, we launched our blog project Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st CenturyThanks to our leadership in the faith community on this issue, RAC Deputy Director Rachel Laser led a Reform Movement contingent to the White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014.
  5. Sadly, incidences of anti-Semitism both at home and abroad brought renewed attention to the state of world Jewry. Just before Passover this year, the RAC responded to a hate-fueled shooting in Overland Park, KS. And amidst the political unrest in Ukraine, the Reform Movement called on global leaders to delegitimize religious intolerance and anti-Semitism in eastern Europe.
  6. Reform Movement Condemns Supreme Court Legislative Prayer Ruling. Last May, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway had grave consequences for fundamental American principles of equal participation and the Constitution’s establishment clause.
  7. Honoring 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act. In July, we celebrated 50 years of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. We also commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the “Freedom Summer,” and the 50-year yahrzeit of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in retribution for their voter registration work in Mississippi.
  8. The Reform Movement Responds to the decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell.  The Reform Movement called this ruling on the HHS contraceptive coverage mandate a “disappointing setback for civil rights, women's equality, and health care in the United States.”
  9. Reform Jewish Movement Mourns Deaths of Murdered Israeli Teens. With all eyes on rising ethnic and religious tensions in the Middle East, our hearts were broken when Israeli officials discovered the bodies of missing teens Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach.
  10. Rabbi David Saperstein Nominated to Key State Department Post. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry announced the nomination of Rabbi Saperstein — RAC Director for 40 years — as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. He was confirmed by the Senate in December 2014.
  11. The RAC says goodbye to the 2013-2014 Legislative Assistants and welcomes the 2014-2015 class. While we miss Charlie, Howie, Sophie, and Deborah around Kivie Kaplan Way (I was thrilled to remain at the RAC as a Senior Legislative Assistant), we got to welcome Rachel, Jordan, Jonathan, Melanie, Liya, and Claire. (Remember that applications for next year’s LA program are open now – please share with any upcoming college graduates you know!)
  12. September 21: Join the People’s Climate March. The Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis represented the Reform Movement in New York City, carrying a banner in the largest march for climate justice in history.
  13. Reform Movement Responds to Election Results. We convened a panel of experts to discuss the effects of the 2014 midterm elections on many of our top social justice priorities in the year to come (in case you missed it, watch the video here).
  14. After the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision: What’s Next? The events in Ferguson, MO have sparked a national conversation on race relations, law enforcement policies, and more with a far greater radius than this small St. Louis suburb. The Reform Movement has been a leading faith voice in this conversation, from convening discussions with St. Louis rabbis to intensifying our advocacy for common-sense criminal justice reform (including a successful push for the Death in Custody Reporting Act).

We remain committed, as always, to the journey of l’taken et haolam (repairing our world) through our legislative advocacy, through work with congregations and Jewish communities across North America. We look forward to what 2015 will bring!

Be sure to join us at the Consultation on Conscience (April 26-28, 2014 in Washington, D.C.), our flagship social justice conference, which will provide an inside-the-Beltway look at the landscape for meaningful change through legislative action.