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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.
Tishah B'Av is a day of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples. In recent years, it's also a day to mourn other tragedies that have darkened Jewish history - the Romans putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, mass murders of Jewish communities during the Crusades, expulsions from England, France, and Spain in the Middle Ages, and the Holocaust.
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 part of our ongoing efforts to create safe, respectful, and equitable workplaces, the URJ requires all staff to regularly participate in sexual harassment prevention training classes, provided by Traliant Compliance Training. Now, through the Reform Movement Marketplace, the URJ is making Traliant Compliance Training classes available to our affiliated congregations at a reduced cost.
Last week, we traveled together to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a remarkable group of Black civil rights leaders and Reform Jewish leaders, including those who sit at the intersection of being Black and Jewish. We imagined that there would likely be bumps along the way, and there were. However, our group knew one another from our ongoing social justice and racial equity work in the United States, so there was a reservoir of goodwill and commonality that served us well.
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.
In response to the Senate filibuster of the motion to proceed to the consideration of the Freedom to Vote Act, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis in support of filibuster reform that achieves a proper balance between majority and minority rights in the Senate.
Today, we stand at a critical crossroads in the climate crisis. The reconciliation bill is a historic, watershed approach, uniting the success of American families, the American economy, and environmental protection and climate crisis amelioration. We must take care not to destroy or spoil God's creation. We still have time to prevent the worst aspects of the climate crisis.
The Reform Jewish Movement is appalled by the brutal assault on innocent Palestinians in and around their homes in Khirbet al-Mufkara, in the South Hebron Hills on September 29, 2021.
The use of executive power to protect our right to vote has never been more important: over 400 anti-voter bills have been introduced around the country in 2021 alone. Examples include the elimination of polling locations, reducing early voting, and enacting stricter voter ID laws. Some laws sink to new lows, including the banning of providing food and drink to those standing in line to vote, many of whom wait for hours.