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February 23, 2015, New York, NY -- Six outstanding teen leaders will lead NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement, for the 2015-2016 program year.
The news from around the world has recently been filled with visible and violent instances of religiously-targeted violence. Just last week, as many as 250 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Eastern France, an area that used to have a large Jewish population. The Jewish community in France has seen this as a reminder of the increasingly visible and vocal anti-Semitic sentiment that lingers in the country. Though French government leaders have quickly spoken out in condemnation of these attacks and in reassurance to French Jews that they are integral to France, the attacks are upsetting, unsettling and sadly no longer unimaginable acts of hate.
I dare any of those who are uneasy about the North American Jewish future to maintain their pessimism after spending, as I have just done, 72 hours with the teen leaders of our Movement at the 2015 NFTY Convention and Youth Summit in Atlanta. I attend a lot of conferences, and I have never walked away from one feeling as inspired and energized as I am today. After spending time with 1,000 teens, upwards of 200 adults and an incredible group of more than 200 volunteers and URJ staff who live and share the values and dreams that we as Reform Jews seek to represent in the world, I am inspired by the power of our community and ready for a spirit-filled future. I had the honor of sharing the bimah with NFTY's extraordinary president, Debbie Rabinovich from Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC, as she and I presented a joint D'var Torah on Shabbat morning. Drawing insightfully on this week's Torah portion, Debbie observed that this convention marks a fundamental turning point for NFTY, as it embraces a more mission-driven future. "Never be afraid to go big! The more focused each of us is - the more change we can make." she said powerfully to a sea of NFTY teens.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, many of us are thinking more and more about relationships. It’s hard not to, what with the never-ending stacks of pink and red candy lining grocery store aisles. Whether you’re planning a special date with a valentine or asking the age-old question, “Will you be my valentine,” healthy relationships are important no matter your relationship status. This February 14, as we must all year round, let us reflect on what a healthy relationship looks like—and what one doesn't look like.
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When I think of Indian reservations, and the laws that govern them, the first things I think about are always casinos. Driving down I-95 from Jacksonville to Miami each year to visit my relatives, we would always pass huge billboards advertising a casino with a strange name to me—Miccosukee—that implored us to stop in on our way down. I’ve been fascinated by geography from the time I was young, so on one of these trips, maybe when I was 9 or 10 years old, I asked my parents why anyone would place a casino so far outside of the city. They explained to me that, while the State of Florida had outlawed gambling (though some might say it still exists today), those laws did not apply to Indian tribes, and so many Indian tribes used the casinos to make money.
I didn’t know Deah, Yusor, or Razan, so my grief over the past few days is not as immediate as their friends, family, and acquaintances, for whom I wish comfort in the wake of this unspeakable tragedy.
Last month, the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute released their 2014 State Equality Index (SEI), which analyzes the state of LGBT rights in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Although the fight for marriage equality is often in the headlines, this report highlights the many other laws that impact LGBT people, for better and for worse. Ultimately, while 2014 included many victories for LGBT people on the state level, there is clearly much more that needs to be done in order to achieve full equality.
Lift your voice and tell your Senators and Representatives totake action on these important policy issues that affect working families: Support the Equal Rights Amendment Urge Congress to Support SNAP Support Housing for Low-Income Families Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act Raise the Minimum Wage...