Conflicting Conservative opinions expected to open the way for gays

December 6, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(JTA) The Conservative movement’s highest legal body moved to allow commitment ceremonies for gays and the ordination of gay rabbis.

With the endorsement Wednesday of three conflicting teshuvot, or halachic responsa, by the movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards — two upholding the longstanding ban on homosexuality and one permitting ordination of gay rabbis and commitment ceremonies — it’s likely that other rabbis will now begin performing such ceremonies, comfortable in the knowledge that they enjoy halachic sanction from the movement’s highest legal body.


If not now . . . (Jewish Caucus Election Message)

November 6, 2006 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Church and State, Civil Rights, Events, Israel, political parties | Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow, we get another chance to shape the future of our great nation. In the past 6 years, we have experienced some of the worst times in our nation’s history. Not only have we seen record deficits and been exposed to a culture of fear, but we have watched the erosion of our most fundamental rights. As Jews, we know first hand the importance of respecting the legal and political safeguards on executive power and we understand why the separation of church and state is at the core of what it means to be American. It is our responsibility to exercise another of our critical rights, in order to protect the rest of them.

By voting tomorrow, you have a chance to stand up and say that civil liberties are important, that America is not a fundamentally “Christian Nation,” but a pluralistic one, and that our country needs a new direction. Though the last six years have been ample evidence for why we need a change, Republican’s continue to pile on the reasons. For the latest winner, I would like to refer you to Republican Representative and US Senate Candidate Katherine Harris who prayed to “bring the hearts and minds of our Jewish brothers and sisters into alignment.”

Listen to the full prayer at, and if anyone asks you why Jews vote Democratic, just point them this way.

But whatever you do, don’t forget that everything comes down to turnout. Even if 90% of Americans know in their hearts and in their heads that we are staying the wrong course in Iraq and at home, we can only change things if we get people to the polls. Elections are sometimes decided by 1 vote, and making sure that you vote and that all of your friends vote is the most important thing you can do.

Here’s to real change in 2006,

Josh Pasek
Chair, YDAJC

My Jewish Problem C’ted: My Tribe Is No Longer a Progressive Political Force

May 30, 2006 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Civil Rights, Social Welfare | Leave a comment

(New York Observer) When I was a kid, Jews were firmly on the left. They were outsiders in American culture—my dad faced antisemitic discrimination in his professional life (science)—and Jews were associated in the 60s with the civil-rights movement and the antiwar movement. And the great leap forward of the meritocracy, of which Jews were the prime beneficiaries (then), meant sharing the wealth of a progressive Jewish tradition, of valuing education and knowledge (as Yuri Slezkine has written) with the rest of society.


False Report Triggers Rush Of Iranian-Nazi Comparisons

May 25, 2006 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Anti-discrimination, Civil Rights, Other | Leave a comment

(Forward) It was not exactly up there with the failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but the effort to discredit the Iranian regime took an embarrassing turn this week with a false media report claiming that Tehran had passed a law requiring Jews and other religious minorities to wear special badges.

The report and a related column by Iranian opposition pundit Amir Taheri ran in the May 19 edition of the National Post, a Canadian daily, promptly setting off a media feeding frenzy.


Jewish scholar, advocate

April 20, 2006 at 9:04 am | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(Miami Herald) Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a leading Jewish scholar and civil-rights advocate known for his provocative views, died Monday of complications related to heart failure. He was 84. Hertzberg was president of the American Jewish Congress from 1972 to 1978, and vice president of the World Jewish Congress from 1975 to 1991.


JTS Pick: ‘Heschel My Hero,’ Yes To Ordaining Gay Rabbis

April 17, 2006 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(Forward) Arnold Eisen traveled to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America 35 years ago, ostensibly to interview the legendary professor Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania. But for the young religious studies major the encounter with the spiritual icon and civil rights activist was more than just an assignment.

"He saw at once that I had personal questions to ask him," Eisen recalled this week, "and he was, in a Buberian sense, totally there for me, totally present, for two solid hours, and the guy changed my life."

Now Eisen is poised to do what Heschel never could — change the seminary from within.


Exodus remembered: Passover inspires Jewish concern for immigrants

April 12, 2006 at 11:25 am | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Two verses from the Hebrew Bible's book of Leviticus have been used extensively by Jewish and Christian groups in the recent debate over immigration reform. The words come directly from God.

"When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt . . ."

As Jews have prepared their homes over the last couple of weeks for Passover, which begins at sundown today, Jewish leaders in St. Louis have been preparing to dive into the national conversation about immigration reform.


US civil rights group: Campus anti-Semitism a serious problem

April 3, 2006 at 11:29 pm | Posted in Anti-discrimination, Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(Jerusalem Post) Anti-Semitism on campuses is a “serious problem” that merits a campaign to inform Jewish students of their rights, the US Commission on Civil Rights said.

The commission came to its decision Monday after considering testimony last year from the American Jewish Congress, the Zionist Organization of America, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research and other groups.


Immigration Bill Draws Jewish Support

March 30, 2006 at 9:44 am | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(Forward) As the Senate struggled this week to hammer out legislation on the contentious issue of immigration reform, Jewish groups were in boardrooms and on the streets advocating for the most liberal approaches to the issue.


Compromise Lowers Bar for Changes on Gay Issues

March 25, 2006 at 10:43 pm | Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a comment

(Forward) In a move that could make it easier to permit gay rabbis and same-sex unions, members of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly voted March 22 to lower the threshold for approving major revisions to rabbinic and biblical law.


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