Consultation on Conscience, April 30

Social justice is  a Jewish mitzvah. If you are interested in becoming a champion of social justice, then sign up for the Religious Action Center’s conference in Washington, D.C. (April 30 – May 2, 2017). The Consultation on Conscience is the premier social justice gathering of Reform Jewish leaders and activists. More information and registration here.

Access to Contraception is a Moral Issue

The Reverend Debra W. Haffner is executive director of the Religious Institute, a multifaith, nonprofit organization dedicated to sexual health, education and justice. An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, she is an endorsed community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, CT.

As a religious leader who is committed to ensuring that everyone has the access to contraception, I am anxiously awaiting oral arguments in an upcoming Supreme Court case. The case, Zubik v. Burwell, will be argued this Wednesday, March 23, and it centers on the ability of women to be able to access seamless contraceptive care, regardless of where and for whom they work.

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WRJ Advocacy, March 2016

WRJ Advocacy
For more than 100 years, inspired by Jewish traditions and values, WRJ has pioneered social action in the Reform Movement and the Jewish community. From advancing women’s leadership and equality in Jewish life and in society at large to championing numerous critical social justice issues, WRJ has been at the forefront of major efforts in the work of tikkun olam, repairing the world. To learn more, click the links below.
Here is a link to the most recent Advocacy Alert, focused on pay equity, from the Women of Reform Judaism.

Women of Rodef Sholom Win Or Ami

Women of Rodef Sholom Win Or Ami Award at the WRJ/URJ Biennial
WRS delegation to the WRJ/URJ Biennial in Orlando receive the 2015 GOLD OR AMI Award from the President, 1st VP and Executive Director of the WRJ (Women of Reform Judaism).  WRS won the award for our program: “Crossing the Street: Mother’s Day Surprise” a program that provided students from Venetia Valley School with gifts they chose to present their mothers on Mother’s Day.

A Jewish Framework for WRS Social Justice

The goal of WRS is to create a strategic plan that is based upon Torah values and concentric circles of need. This will be a 3 year plan targeting different organizations that we will support, advocate for and educate ourselves and others about.
Based upon the article “Rabbinic Law on Tzedakah Priorities” by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, tzedakah means righteousness, not charity. At its core is the concept of restorative justice, privacy and dignity for every human being. Tzedakah is a test of the values of our Torah.
  1. Who gives? Everyone, even the poorest person who depends on tzedakah is required to give a ½ schekel, so that he too is a contributor.
  2. How much should we give? The richest can give up to 20% of their income, but no more. More would get that person too much honor and power for the community’s good. Less is ok. The normal amount is 10%.
  3. How do we choose among a wide range of needs? Anyone who asks for food should receive it at once. Hunger is a powerful emergency. Strangers with less urgent needs should be queried. The community is responsible to give what they need based upon the results of the perceived need. Those known to the community should not have to wait for tzedakah.
  4. Giving is extended in a series of concentric circles. Ones own needs come first. The next priority goes to parents. Children come next, then relatives, immediate neighbors, then the needs of the town in which one lives. After that a person needs to be concerned with their country and finally the world.
  5. Jews & Non-Jews For the sake of peace, give to both. The highest communal good is a joy to help all beings.
  6. Moses Maimonides – 12th century scholar and author of the Mishnah Torah illiterated 8 steps of tzedakah. All 8 steps are built upon restoring a person’s dignity, privacy and anonymity of the giver and the receiver.
  7. We can raise a person’s dignity in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the prosperous by involving them in the process and in the work. The highest form of tzedakah is enabling every person to be economically self-sufficient.
  8. There is a difference between acts of loving kindness and tzedakah. One is direct service and the other is capacity building which enables people to stand on their own independent of a need for tzedakah.

~Claire Mikowski