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Public school

This month and over the next few weeks, millions of students across the United States are heading back to school. The new academic year is filled with celebration and opportunities for growth, and it also provides an opportunity to reflect on what Judaism can teach us about the importance of public education.

Jewish tradition explains that education has the power to shape lives. We are commanded to “train a youth in the way he ought to go; he will not swerve from it even in old age” (Proverbs 22:6). Educational equity is...

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Children in cages

When I first learned of the adolescent detention facility in Homestead, Florida, I was appalled. At its peak, Homestead detained 3,000 adolescent boys and girls who were treated military style, forced to walk single file; forbidden from being touched or touching; threatened with longer detentions as a disciplinary measure. Having a mother who survived Auschwitz, and asking myself what I would have done in Nazi Germany, I decided that I had to stand up for these children. I was inspired by my colleague, Rabbi Andi Berlin, who had joined the protesters earlier. My intention was not to close...

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Reform Jews across the United States held vigils for immigrant rights on Tisha B’Av Sunday, with hundreds of Jews and allies showing up at events in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, Cleveland, Chicago, and at more than 60 sites across the country.

The vigils, which were organized and...

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signs saying we are better than this

  To my Reform Jewish community, 

Just days ago, Homestead detention center, the only private, for-profit detention center housing immigrant children, shut its doors. While we know that our work to ensure the just treatment of migrants is far from over, make no mistake: the closure of Homestead is a victory for children, it’s a victory for immigrants, and it’s a powerful display of what activism motivated by enduring Jewish values can accomplish. Thank you. 

For the past year, you and other Reform Jews in south Florida have organized and mobilized to shut down Homestead...

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Hannalee Isaacs is a high school senior from Judea Reform Congregation in Durham, North Carolina. She is an alumna of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport L’Taken Social Justice Seminars and the RAC Teen Justice Fellowship, an ongoing learning cohort offered to alumni of L’Taken. For her final project in the fellowship, Hannalee submitted an entry to Americans United for Separation of Church and State student essay contest. The contest asks students to reflect on church-state separation and religious freedom. Below is an excerpt from Hannalee’s essay.

Religion is a defining identity...

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