The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) is delighted to announce that Rachel Landis has been selected as the inaugural Linda Rae Sher Fellowship Legislative Assistant (LA). As the Sher LA, Rachel will focus on women's rights and reproductive rights issues at a time our synagogues, state projects, and Reform Movement partners are playing active roles in the fight against abortion bans and other efforts to curtail women's rights. Rachel will be a key player in the efforts of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) to ensure that women's rights are protected and expanded.
The Sher Fellowship is supported by the generous gifts of friends of Linda Rae Sher and Women of Reform Judaism.
An alumna of URJ's Camp Harlam and NFTY-NAR and 2023 graduate of Brandeis University, Rachel wrote her thesis on the evolving relationship of women elected to state office and reproductive health care legislation. Matching her scholarship for women's rights with activism, Rachel served as National Policy Director for Generation Ratify, which advocates for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her participation in the RAC's L'Taken Social Justice Seminar in high school sparked her passion for working at the intersection of Judaism and social justice.
As Linda Rae Sher's daughter, Jamie Sher, noted, "We are delighted the RAC has chosen Rachel, a young woman whose record is resonant with my mother's values, passions and life's work. Our mother would be so pleased she's been awarded the fellowship."
The Sher Fellowship honors the extraordinary memory and legacy of Linda Rae Sher, a tireless and tenacious activist for women's rights, Israel, and democracy. In 1980, she helped found the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs PAC (JAC), the first national Jewish women's PAC in the United States. Sher's gift for recognizing talented political contenders for office - often women - and providing them vital backing at the start of their careers enabled JAC to identify and support a diverse, talented network of emerging leaders who supported reproductive rights, church-state separation, strong U.S.-Israel relations, and gun violence prevention. Sher's vision of empowered women fully involved in activism and social justice - advocating, lobbying, cultivating relationships, and using their own innate talents and voice - lives on in the RAC's Sher LA Fellowship.
Said Rabbi David Saperstein, RAC Director Emeritus and URJ Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, "It is a source of immense pride for me personally, and for the RAC, to have a program bearing Linda Rae Sher's name, carrying on her legacy. She was a dear friend and one of the RAC's most passionate and effective allies, whose political clout and savvy contributed so much to our common social justice agenda."
Said Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, "We are eager to welcome Rachel to the WRJ team as the inaugural Sher Legislative Assistant. Women's bodies, rights, and reproductive health access are under attack; now more than ever, we must focus on these issues. We celebrate the long commitment of WRJ women to the work of the RAC and our strong advocacy partnership."
In a news article on her death, Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker said, "Linda was my good friend and a mentor who warmly welcomed me into her group of women warriors, and she taught me so many life lessons over the years. She was as tough as she was kind and the person who you always wanted on your side in a fight for justice." President Biden said of Linda Rae Sher, "Linda's legacy and her work in the name of democracy, peace and justice will live on for generations to come."
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit RAC.org for more.