As we reflect on the United States' Independence Day, I am mindful that democracy also takes commitment and practice. Democracy takes practice because it still is not accessible to all.
Every year on June 20, we honor the resilience and courage of refugees and celebrate their contributions to our communities and to our entire nation. The best way to honor and celebrate refugees is by taking action to make the U.S. a more welcoming place for those seeking safety.
In April 2022, I went to Farragut North Station to refill my metro card. As I walked to where the escalators go down to the subway level, there was a woman leaving. When she saw me, she changed directions, going back to the down-escalator entrance. She didn't go down the escalator when I gave her the right-of-way, just stared at me, so I got onto the escalator.
On Sunday, June 12, 2022, congregants and clergy from over twenty Reform synagogues gathered at Temple Shalom of Newton for the launch of RAC-Massachusetts, the Religious Action Center’s ninth and newest statewide project. The room had an energy I haven’t felt since before the pandemic, reminding everyone there what can happen when we are in community.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), recently attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles, California, the world's first LGBTQ+ congregation. This is a excerpt taken from his remarks at the event.
Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa, and other recent incidents of gun violence highlight the fact that the U.S. has been locked in a cycle of apathetic “thoughts and prayers,” while little federal action has been taken on this public safety and public health issue. We must end the helpless, apathetic cycle of “thoughts and prayers.” Enough is enough. To stand idly by and do nothing in the face of such senseless slaughter is unconscionable and antithetical to our Jewish values and beliefs. To paraphrase Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will pray with our marching feet and voices.
In honor of Shavuot and the Giving of the Torah, I have been spending some time reflecting on some of my favorite teachings from Jewish sacred literature, both those that resonate with me, and those that feel most important or most timely.
In the story of creation, the first story we read in the Torah, we learn that every person is created b'tzelem Elohim - in the holy image of God (Genesis 1:27). Discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. It is this principle that guides that Reform Movement's advocacy for LGBTQ+ equality.
For many people, it is easy to think about gun violence and its impacts a few times a year, either following a horrifying, high-profile story in the news or during Wear Orange Weekend (this year June 3-5). Unfortunately, that is not a reality for an ever growing group of people across the country.
Though a draft decision has already leaked, before the summer is over, the Supreme Court will issue a final ruling in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the most consequential abortion rights case in generations.