“We left Albany feeling our Reform Jewish concerns were heard. We were encouraged by our representatives’ commitment to protect and sustain individual human rights of all New Yorkers. Imagine the impact hundreds/ thousands of Reform Jews can make, in Washington and their state capitols, on the issues that reflect our ethical principles and tradition.” – Karen L. Levin (Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale), reflecting on her first time participating in RJV Advocacy Day (more…)
Last month, the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State’s Steering Committee met at Temple Emanu-El in New York City to build relationships, learn about important issues facing our state and chart the future of RJV. We were particularly excited to officially welcome our new co-chair, Richard C. Laskey of Temple Sinai in Roslyn. Richard is succeeding Joel Elliot of Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester after his excellent year as co-chair. Joel will continue serving as a Steering Committee member and supplying thoughtful, motivated leadership to RJV.
We are also excited to welcome four new members to RJV’s Steering Committee: Jonathan Rubin of Temple Chaverim (Plainview), Rabbi Cassi Kail of Temple Emanu-El (Utica), Rabbi Don Cashman of B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation (Albany) and Ellen Greeley of Temple Israel of Northern Westchester (Croton-On-Hudson). These new members have already hit the ground running, bringing new energy and new ideas as we continue in our pursuit of an Empire State of Tzedek.
Over the past few months, a number of important developments have taken place in East Ramapo. These all shed some light on the future of the school district, but also leave many questions unanswered. (more…)
The year 5775 saw a number of highlights for RJV’s work to create an Empire State of Tzedek. Take a look at the year’s achievements:
- We submitted testimony to the State Assembly in support of single-payer health care.
- We participated in Westchester Congregations Community’s social justice training led by the URJ and the RAC.
- We worked with NFTY-NAR on their Teen Advocacy Day to bring over 80 teens to Albany and prepare them to lobby the State Senate and Assembly.
- We mobilized against Education Incentive Tax Credit (also known as Parental Choice in Education Tax Credit) legislation by working with coalitions on six press conferences and lobbying events, and writing letters to all state legislators and the Governor.
- We joined Reform Jews from around North America at the Religious Action Center’s Consultation on Conscience in Washington, D.C.
- Our annual May Advocacy Day brought about 40 advocates to Albany at the height of the legislative season.
- We joined with Faith for a Fair New York for several Moral Monday vigils and lobbying events at the state Capitol on issues such as minimum wage increases, moral budgeting and education funding.
- We joined forces with Strong East Ramapo for a lobby day in June and a press conference advocates in support of strong oversight legislation.
- We submitted testimony to the New York Department of Labor’s Wage Board in support of increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour for all workers.
Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV) is our collective voice for Jewish social justice advocacy in New York. Our mission is to promote state legislation and governmental actions that embody the principles of the Reform Jewish movement through education on the critical issues facing our state and advocacy in Albany and local legislative districts. RJV is modeled on the nationwide efforts of the Commission on Social Action and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The work of RJV is directed by a Steering Committee of committed volunteers from across the state. We are currently seeking nominations for new Steering Committee members. You may nominate yourself or another individual with a passion for social justice work who can help RJV grow as an effective voice for Reform Judaism and advocate for social justice. If you wish to nominate another person, please discuss this with your proposed nominee and assess his/her willingness to serve on the committee before submitting his/her nomination.
The Steering Committee is composed of up to 18 members serving three-year terms. New members will begin their terms on November 1, 2015. (more…)
After extending the session a number of days, nearly a week and half, the Senate and Assembly ended the legislative session last week, in many ways taking the wind out of the sails of a number of crucial social justice causes, many of which are of key interest for RJV. (more…)
After a long, arduous effort this legislative session, the East Ramapo oversight bill failed to make it through the State Senate. This is a major setback after building momentum towards oversight in East Ramapo over the past few months with incredible advocacy from the community in East Ramapo and important contributions from the Reform Jewish community as well. (more…)
Although it might seem that the legislative session could end any day now, our social justice work in New York State will continue on. RJVNYS submitted testimony for the Wage Board Hearing on Minimum Wage Increase in the Fast Food Industry on Thursday, in support of raising the minimum wage to a true living wage indexed to inflation. You can read the testimony in full below: (more…)
Join us in Albany on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 for a press conference and meetings with legislative leaders on this critical issue.
- In preparation for the events on June 10, please join us for a conference call on Monday, June 8 at 8 pm. Will provide background information, talking points and logistics for Wednesday. RSVP here.
- The press conference will begin at 9:30 am at Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY.
- Legislative meetings will begin at 11 am in the Legislative Office Building or the Capitol Building.
- RSVP for the June 10 events here.
This advocacy day is being organized by the Religious Action Center, Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, Strong East Ramapo and Rockland Clergy for Social Justice.
There is a bill before the New York State Legislature that would provide the much-needed oversight of the East Ramapo School district, where public school students are being deprived of educational opportunities because of the ruinous decisions of the school board members.
The East Ramapo School District in Rockland County, NY includes a large Orthodox Haredi community and a large African American and Hispanic immigrant community. The East Ramapo School Board is composed of 70% Haredi members, even though most Haredi children in this school district attend private yeshivas and most African American and Hispanic children attend the public schools. (more…)
RJV has been actively engaged in the fight against the education tax credit. Over the past few months, this proposal has come up in many forms. Earlier in May, we sent a letter to all members of the Senate and Assembly outlining our position on this issue, and why we oppose this legislation because of strong support for public education and church-state separation.
You can take action today and urge your legislator to oppose this measure. Click here for our action alert and to learn more about this issue.
These education tax credits will direct taxpayer dollars to private, often parochial, schools, where public funds should support public schools. Not only does this bill compromise public education, but it also puts at risk church-state separation when taxpayer dollars support religious schools.