The Social Justice Vision at Stephen S. Wise Temple

Our congregation will see Social Justice as a calling that derives from our sense of God and the imperative of Jewish Tradition. The Stephen S. Wise Temple community will use our influence, power and compassion to be a force for positive, meaningful and effective change in the quality of life on behalf of all the citizens of Los Angeles and the world.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Immigration Reform and Jewish Values: A Sermon in Three Parts

Continuing our conversation about Immigration Reform, Rabbi Stern integrated Jewish perspectives on immigration into a Kabbalat Shabbat service.  See the videos here:

Part 1 click here.

Part 2 click here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

The Reform Movement is the only Jewish religious movement to have a full time lobbying center in Washington, D.C. for social justice.  This represents the founding principle of Reform Judiasm that affirms a commitment to social justice.  Though the positions that are taken by the RAC (Religious Action Center) are sometimes controversial, more often than not, the RAC is at the front of vital social change and leads the way for policy the ultimately follows. 

Visit the RAC page on Immigration Reform by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Paul Koretz Responds Favorably to LA Voice Endorsed Resolution (and to Rabbi Stern's call)

Following is a press release from Paul Koretz's office.  LA Voice received word of Richard Alarcon's intention to bring the resolution discussed below up at city council.  Word went out to the LA Voice clergy base to encourage our city council representatives to support the resolution.  After reviewing the details of the resolution, Rabbi Stern called Paul Koretz's office to encourage his support.  Happily, Council Member Koretz supported the resolution and it passed.  Rabbi Stern is grateful to the staff of Mr. Koretz's office as well as Mr. Koretz himself for the follow-up phone calls affirming support.  Paul Koretz will remain an important resource, advocate and partner for the continuing Social Justice work at our synagogue, his responsiveness to the Investment/Divestment Resolution below reflects the strength of our community's relationship with his office. 

Press Release                                                  Contact:  Paul Michael Neuman
March 5, 2010                                                     (213) 473-7005

Koretz speaks out strongly in favor of “Responsible Lending” motion

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz today voted in favor of Richard Alarcon’s motion to promote socially responsible, community-friendly banking practices.

Councilmember Koretz said, “This a tremendous effort that can help protect people and neighborhoods.  We need banking in our society, but we need banks that are responsive to community needs and fair and just in how they treat their customers.  It will be greatly beneficial to have our city encourage responsible banking practices, including by favoring banks that invest back in the communities of Los Angeles.”

The motion by Alarcon will lead to the creation of a “report card” to evaluate the track record of banks that want to do business with the City. The report will include date on such things as the number of small business loans, evidence of working with homeowners facing disclosure, the numbers and locations of branches and ATMs, and the use of federal TARP funds.

Councilmember Koretz added, “I’m especially pleased that the City will now be able to use its authority and influence to guide banks towards helping people keep their homes – the last thing we should want is to have more people, who are already desperately struggling to stay afloat, lose their homes to foreclosure.  We want banks that truly help families, small businesses and neighborhoods.  In these tough economic times – which were caused, in large part, by irresponsible and predatory banking practices – we need banks to do their fair share serving the communities and helping the people of this City.  Today our City Council took an important step for that very cause.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

LA Times: Obama looking to give new life to immigration reform

In an effort to advance a bill through Congress before midterm elections, the president meets with two senators who have spent months trying to craft legislation.
By Peter Nicholas

March 4, 2010 | 6:18 p.m.

Reporting from Washington - Despite steep odds, the White House has discussed prospects for reviving a major overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, a commitment that President Obama has postponed once already.

Obama took up the issue privately with his staff Monday in a bid to advance a bill through Congress before lawmakers become too distracted by approaching midterm elections.

In the session, Obama and members of his Domestic Policy Council outlined ways to resuscitate the effort in a White House meeting with two senators -- Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- who have spent months trying to craft a bill.

According to a person familiar with the meeting, the White House may ask Schumer and Graham to at least produce a blueprint that could be turned into legislative language.

The basis of a bill would include a path toward citizenship for the 10.8 million people living in the U.S. illegally. Citizenship would not be granted lightly, the White House said. Undocumented workers would need to register, pay taxes and pay a penalty for violating the law. Failure to comply might result in deportation.

Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman, said the president's support for an immigration bill, which would also include improved border security, was "unwavering."

Participants in the White House gathering also pointed to an immigration rally set for March 21 in Washington as a way to spotlight the issue and build needed momentum.

Though proponents of an immigration overhaul were pleased that the White House wasn't abandoning the effort, they also wanted Obama to take on a more assertive role, rather than leave it to Congress to work out a compromise.

Immigration is a delicate issue for the White House. After promising to revamp in his first year of office what many see as a fractured system, Obama risks angering a growing, politically potent Latino constituency if he defers the goal until 2011.

But with the healthcare debate still unresolved, Democrats are wary of plunging into another polarizing issue.

"Right now we have a little problem with the 'Chicken Little' mentality: The sky is falling and consequently we can't do anything," Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in an interview.

Republicans are unlikely to cooperate. On Capitol Hill, Republicans said that partisan tensions had only gotten worse since Obama signaled this week that he would push forward with a healthcare bill, whether he could get GOP votes or not.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in an interview, "The things you hear from the administration won't be well received."

Schumer, speaking as he walked quickly through the Capitol, said he was having trouble rounding up Republican supporters apart from Graham. "It's tough finding someone, but we're trying," Schumer said.

On Thursday, Schumer met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees the government's immigration efforts, to strategize over potential Republican co-sponsors.

"We're very hopeful we can get a bill done. We have all the pieces in place. We just need a second Republican," Schumer said in a statement.

Among proponents, there is a consensus that a proposal must move by April or early May to have a realistic chance of passing this year. If that deadline slips, Congress' focus is likely to shift to the November elections, making it impossible to take up major legislation.

"There's no question that this is a heavy lift and the window is narrowing," said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group.

When it comes to immigration, Obama's strategy echoes that of healthcare. He has deferred heavily to Congress, leaving it up to Schumer and Graham to reach a breakthrough with the idea that he would put his weight behind the resulting compromise.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times