RAC Legislative Priorities for the 117th Congress

January 21, 2021Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Below is the cover letter of a 12-page document sent to the 117th congress. The full version of this document can be found here. 

 

Dear Member of the 117th Congress,

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 850 congregations encompass more than 1.5 million Reform Jews across North America, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents over 2,000 Reform rabbis, I write to congratulate you on your swearing in as a member of the 117th Congress and to (re)introduce you to our Movement and our policy priorities.

For more six decades, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC) has been the hub of Jewish social justice work, representing the values of the largest and most diverse Jewish Movement in North America. The RAC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and as such, our work is completely nonpartisan. We are proud of our work with administrations, congresses, and elected officials of both parties, knowing that our success as a nation is inextricably linked to our ability to work together for the common good. Among the landmark laws that we have played a key role in shaping are the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Violence Against Women Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Affordable Care Act, and more.

Our vision is of a world overflowing with wholeness, justice, and compassion. To realize this vision, we are dedicated to working across lines of difference to organize and advocate for social change that alienates systemic injustices, especially those that primarily impact marginalized communities. The words of the prophet Micah inspire us to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

Our community is organized and engaged on issues at the local, state, and federal levels. There are Reform Jewish congregations in all 50 states, yours among them, as well as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. In a typical year, we bring thousands of Reform Jews, including more than 2,000 young people, to Washington to advocate for social justice on a range of key issues. In 2020, we launched Every Voice, Every Vote: The Reform Movement's Civic Engagement Campaign, a non-partisan GOTV effort grounded in our belief that democracy is strongest when everyone participates. The campaign reached more than 660,000 voters with a focus on achieving 100 percent voter participation within Reform communities, combatting voter suppression, and outreach to low-propensity voters in Communities of Color.

Attached you will find an outline of our legislative and policy priorities for the 117th Congress. We know there is a tremendous amount of work that must be done and hope to serve as a resource for you and your staff. We look forward to moving these critical social justice issues forward, ensuring that “justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner Director,
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism

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