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Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

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Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Rev. Al Sharpton, and other faith leaders in McAllen, TX

In Jeremiah 31:15, we read,

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are gone.”

Today, Rachel’s great sadness is being perpetrated by our own government on our own soil. We join Rachel’s cry because right here in the U.S., the land of the free, children are being detained, locked away from their parents.

I write to you from McAllen, TX, site of the United States’ largest immigrant detention center. Along with nearly 40 colleagues – Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, and evangelical –...

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Rabbi Aaron Panken offering a closing prayer at Temple Mishkan Israel in Selma

Rabbi Aaron Panken understood his call to be the creation of an entire generation of inspiring leaders who would lead the Jewish people to fulfill our destiny. He was nurtured and trained by the same institutions of Reform Judaism – NFTY - The Reform Jewish Youth Movement, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union for Reform Judaism, and most of all the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion – to which he devoted his professional life. And he did so because he understood the profound role of leadership in building...

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Sign outside polling place that says: Vote Here

As the 2018 election season begins, the Reform Movement is launching a powerful, nonpartisan civic engagement campaign. This effort is grounded in the Deuteronomic injunction: “You shall not hide yourself” (22:3), which implies that when our nation and world face challenges, we cannot turn away and we cannot hide. The Babylonian Talmud comments on this verse: “When the community is in trouble, a person should not say, ‘I will go into my house and eat and drink and be at peace with myself’” (Masechet Taanit, 11a).

Voting is vital if we are to be responsible for our society and...

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Teens lobby in Tallahassee, Fl for gun violence prevention

This post is adapted from a sermon given by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner at the NFTY Southern Tropical Region (NFTY-STR) Kallah at Temple Kol Ami Emanuel in Plantation, Florida on March 16, 2018. Since Rabbi Pesner offered these remarks, another school shooting has occurred in Maryland, a tragic reminder of just how important the work of gun violence prevention is. 

It is hard to imagine that shloshim, the 30 day period of mourning, is over. It has been over a month since 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It feels like it was yesterday – and it feels like a...

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Rabbi Jonah Pesner wearing a Jews 4 Dreamers sign while being arrested by Capitol Police

A couple of months ago I was arrested in the grand rotunda of the Russell Building of the United States Senate. Nearly one hundred Jewish clergy and leaders joined in song and prayer, demanding that the United States Congress pass the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to the nearly 800,000 Dreamers who came to the United States as children and are every bit American as my own daughters. As we sang “Olam Chesed Yibaneh” (“We will build this world with love”) over and over again, hundreds of Dreamers stood cheering us on from the balcony, ringing us like a human halo. In an...

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