Here in the Maine wilderness, fighting for justice can feel lonely. As the first resident Reform rabbi at Temple Beth El in Augusta – a short walk from the State House – I have lived through two referenda on employment and housing rights for LGBT people and one referendum on marriage equality in which the public voted to repeal the state’s 2009 marriage equality law. Now, the marriage question will be on the Maine ballot again in 2012. The issue of equal rights, including marriage for same-sex couples, was a controversial one in our community 15 years ago, but no more. Our synagogue is solidly behind these efforts, and our board has voted to back them. The crucial ingredient for us has been the backing of the Union for Reform Judaism, through the advocacy of the Religious Action Center. The three Reform rabbis in Maine – Rabbis Darah Lerner (Congregation Beth El in Bangor), Jared Saks (Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland), and I – are all members the Religious Coalition Against Discrimination (RCAD). On Thursday, January 26, I was privileged to stand with them and clergy of other faiths in the Welcome Center at the State House. We were representing RCAD at a press conference hosted by Equality Maine at which more than 105,000 signatures were presented to the Secretary of State, asking for a new ballot initiative permitting marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Maine. Rabbi Saks proudly carried the box of signatures from South Portland to the office of the Secretary of State. We will continue the fight, knowing that our Movement is behind us.
February 15, 2022
As a graduate of both Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, the recent bomb threats to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are personal to me. Since January 2022, over a dozen HBCUs have received bomb threats; several of those threats were received on the first day of Black history month. The continuous attacks on institutions of higher learning; places of worship and individual attacks are a direct threat to our everyday existence.
November 2, 2021
At this moment, we are faced with an array of challenges: racial injustice, attacks on abortion rights, immigration justice, climate change, economic inequality, and more. As Reform Jews, we know that we can and must work to repair what is broken in our world. The Commission on Social Action leads the Reform Movement's social justice work - and we are eager for you to join us.
April 19, 2021
Isaac Hirt-Manheimer is the founder of Unity Ecovillage in Ghana, constructed according to eco-friendly principles that he learned while attending the Green Apprenticeship training program at Kibbutz Lotan in Israel.