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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.
We are excited to dive into our work as the 2021-2022 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants! We bring a diverse set of interests and experiences to the RAC but share a deep commitment to the pursuit for a more just, compassionate, and equitable world. We are proud to represent and join the Reform Movement and its values in this crucial moment in history.
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.
In late August, the FBI released its annual compilation of hate crimes statistics, summarizing all hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2020. The data is alarming and only tells part of the story, as an increasing number of law enforcement agencies did not report data to the FBI. A new law will strengthen hate crimes data collection, reporting, and response measures, giving us hope that future statistics will be more accurate.
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.
I write this as the Sines vs. Kessler trial commences. This long-awaited lawsuit seeks to hold the organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally accountable for their actions. Bone-chilling evidence will be presented in this trial that will make us realize how close we came to experiencing an even greater tragedy than the death of Heather Heyer and the wounding of so many others.