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Fri Dec 19, 2014 at 10:15 AM PST

D'var Torah: Mikketz

by ramara

Last week, we left Joseph in prison, forgotten. Two years later he is remembered - the cupbearer remembers him when none of Pharaoh's wise men can interpret two dreams that Pharaoh had, the dreams of the seven shriveled cows eating the seven healthy cows, and of seven dry ears of corn eating seven healthy ears.

Joseph interprets the dreams as signifying seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, and recommends stocking up on surplus grain during the full years to have in the years of famine. Pharaoh puts him in charge of the project, giving him power over the economic life of Egypt.

The second half of the parsha deals with what happens when Joseph's brothers come to buy grain during the great famine.

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Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST

This Week in the War on Women

by ramara

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I want to focus this week on brave women, women of valor.

For many women, along with many men, demonstrations of courage grow out of pain; their greatness is thrust upon them by the necessities of tragedy and war. This week we will look at a war hero, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, mothers who have lost children to police violence, as well as women who speak up when it is most difficult, in this instance about their own abortions, or about being raped.

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Does the release of the Senate committee summary mean that the government and individuals are no longer exempt from civil cases by torture victims under the Official Secrets Act?

Clearly it is no longer necessary that this program be protected by the utmost secrecy.

With or without criminal prosecutions of the people who committed crimes by authorizing torture and then lying about it under oath, there could finally be some redress.

Discuss

Fri Nov 21, 2014 at 02:40 PM PST

D'var Torah: Toledot

by ramara

I'm sorry this is late - medical issues have been consuming a lot of time and energy this week.

This week's Torah reading is the story of Jacob and Esau, whose fighting began in their mother's womb and continued into next week's reading. The rabbis do a lot of justification of Jacob's (and Rebecca's) actions that trick Esau out of his birthright and the blessing of Isaac. Rebecca is seen as knowing that Jacob is supposed to carry on the blessing first given to Abraham and doing whatever it takes to see that he gets it. And poor Esau is painted as evii, much as Ishmael was, though there is nothing in the text to support such an interpretation.

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Sat Nov 15, 2014 at 05:00 PM PST

This Week in the War on Women

by ramara

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This week the news from the war on women seemed to focus on the state's role in women's fertility and childbearing. The New York Times ran an editorial on what can happen when government becomes involved in protecting fetuses, and more important, on some of the things that have happened.

Then came news from India about women dying during a "sterilization camp" in the rural state of Chhattisgarh. India certainly has little to recommend its treatment of women, but I found the idea of a "sterilization camp" startling.

Add to this the fact that Arizona's Department of Health Services had harrassed a leading reproductive health advocate...

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Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 04:49 PM PST

What We Saw In This Election

by ramara

I'm reading all sorts of post mortem analysis of yesterday's disastrous election. One thing I have not seen anyone say, and it seems to me the most obvious point.

This was the first election to occur since two key Supreme Court decisions. Many people have discussed the fact that the Koch brothers and Citizens United had a lot to do with the outcome.

But this was also the first election after the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.

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I've been phone banking in Oro Valley Arizona, calling people in the southern part of Ann Kirkpatrick's district, which stretches from the Tucson northern suburbs to the northern border. This morning a bunch of us were getting ready to begin canvassing or making phone calls. There was a good breakfast spread, and several candidates came to hang out and talk to us. We had Felicia Rotellini, running for Attorney General, Terry Goddard, running for Secretary of State - he's running on the issues of making it easier for people to vote and getting dark money out of the state, but the office is also important for another reason: Arizona does not have an office of Lieutenant Governor. Jan Brewer became governor from being Secretary of State when Janet Napolitano left to become Secretary of Homeland Security.

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This article was also published at the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog.

The Center for Arizona Policy is a far-right Christian organization that was founded in 1995. According to its mission statement:

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.
Its political purpose is stated in the next sentence:
The fact is, what happens at the state Capitol impacts real lives. CAP works with state legislators and other elected officials at all levels of government to ensure that public policy promotes foundational principles.
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Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 12:39 PM PDT

D'var Torah: Lech Lecha, The Prequel

by ramara

This parsha begins the story of the Jewish people. Until now we have had a history of the world up until Abraham. Last week we learned about his father's family, which was from Ur, in Mesopotamia. Abraham's father, Terah, took his grown sons and all their households - actually more like a clan - and went to Haran, where this week's parsha begins, the start of Genesis 12.

1. And the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.         א. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ:
2. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing.         ב. וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה:
3. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you."         ג. וַאֲבָרְכָה מְבָרֲכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה:
4. And Abram went, as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him, and Abram was seventy five years old when he left Haran.
Abraham, we are told, was 75 when he left Harah. What of his life up until then?
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Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM PDT

Submit a Comment About Hobby Lobby

by ramara

The Obama administration is asking for comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid about regulations on reproductive healthcare after the Hobby Lobby decision. Tomorrow is the deadline to submit your comment.

From the National Partnership for Women and Families:

While Congress ultimately needs to pass the Not My Boss’ Business Act to fix the Supreme Court's disastrous Hobby Lobby ruling, we can do our part today by supporting the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent bosses from denying women access to contraception without copays.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has asked the public to provide feedback on its proposed rules that would help ensure that women have birth control coverage regardless of their bosses’ beliefs.

That's where you come in. Please take a minute and send a message to HHS about why bosses have no business in our business. Below are some talking points to get you started.

Extremists are still trying to undermine and take away women’s health coverage, so we need to make sure our voices are heard.

Please submit a message today supporting the administration’s efforts to ensure that women have coverage for the full range of contraceptive methods without copays, no matter where they work.

The deadline is tomorrow, October 21 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Submit your message using Regulations.gov right now, before it's too late.

Below is a copy of the comment I submitted.
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Sun Oct 12, 2014 at 02:24 PM PDT

D'var Torah: Sukkot

by ramara

I originally published the body of this diary a year or two ago, when I had signed up to write a d'var Torah for Sukkot and was late doing it. This year I haven't seen another one, and though I will be glad to read some new thoughts about the holiday, this little one about the fall holidays still seems apt. I have come to appreciate the cyclical nature of the Jewish year and festivals, and this diary reflects that feeling.

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This article was first published on the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog.

Trigger Warning: This diary discusses violence and sexual assault against girls.

October 11, 2014 will be the third International Day of the Girl Child. UNICEF began this day in 2012, a day that focused on the issue of child marriage. Last year, the subject was education for girls. This year the theme is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

I am excited that violence is this year’s focus. When I worked in another state as a child therapist in an inner-city neighborhood, I once had a 14-year-old girl bring in two friends for her session. She and another girl around her age wanted me to talk to their 11-year-old friend, who was thinking about having sex with her older boyfriend. The boyfriend was insisting on it. The older girls agreed with the general idea that “spreading your legs” (in their words) is part of having a boyfriend, but were worried that their friend was too young. Though they could not see any coercion in their own lives, even they could tell that in their 11-year-old friend’s case, something was wrong. At one point I asked them, “Do you enjoy it?” All three looked at me as if I were talking a foreign language. The idea that sex could be pleasurable had never occurred to them.

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