No Justifiction for Gender Discrimination in Israel


— by Rabbi David Saperstein

On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, I commend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres for speaking out against gender segregation in Israel. We oppose discrimination against any all individual, for the stamp of the Divine is imprinted on the souls of each and every one of us.  For anyone to be discriminated against on the basis of one’s gender, or to justify discrimination in the civil sphere based on one’s interpretation of a religion’s law is unacceptable.

Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.

Obama Addresses Grand Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism

Obama reiterates his record on Israel:

  • President defends commitment to Israel’s security
  • Proud of “hardest-hitting” sanctions on Iran expected to be signed into law soon
  • Obama says his administration has led fight against delegitimization

Before the speech, Obama met on the sidelines of the conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who had already spoke at the convention, for about a half hour.

Transcript of Remarks by President Barack Obama

I am honored to be here because of the proud history and tradition of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 congregations, around 1.5 million American Jews.

I want to congratulate all of you on the golden anniversary of the Religious Action Center.  As Eric mentioned, When President Kennedy spoke to leaders from the RAC in 1961, I was three months old, so my memory is a bit hazy.  But I am very familiar with the work that you’ve done ever since, and so is the rest of America.

And that’s because you helped draft the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  You helped to liberate Soviet Jews.  You have made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half-century.  And without these efforts, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today.  So thank you.  Thank you.   You have brought to life your faith and your values, and the world is a better place for it.

Now, since my daughter Malia has reached the age where it seems like there’s always a Bar or Bat Mitzvah every weekend, and there is quite a bit of negotiations around the skirts that she wears at these Bat Mitzvahs — (laughter) — do you guys have these conversations as well?  (Laughter.)  All right.  I just wanted to be clear it wasn’t just me.  (Laughter.) What time you get home.

As a consequence, she’s become the family expert on Jewish tradition.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from her, it’s that it never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion.  It doesn’t hurt.

So this week congregations around the world will retell the story of Joseph.  As any fan of Broadway musicals will tell you, there is a lot going on in this reading.  But many scholars have focused on a single word that Joseph uses when he replies to his father Jacob.

In Hebrew, that word is hineni.  It translates to “Here I am.”  Hineni.  It’s the same word Abraham uses to reply to God before the binding of Isaac.  It’s the same word Moses uses when God summons him from the burning bush.  Hineni.  The text is telling us that while Joseph does not know what lies ahead, he is ready to answer the call.

In this case, “hineni” leads Joseph to Egypt.  It sets in motion a story of enslavement and exodus that would come to inspire leaders like Martin Luther King as they sought freedom.  It’s a story of persecution and perseverance that has repeated itself from Inquisition-era Spain to Tsarist Russia to Hitler’s Germany.  

And in that often-tragic history, this place, America, stands out.  Now, we can’t whitewash the past.  Like so many ethnic groups, Jews faced prejudice, and sometimes violence, as they sought their piece of the American Dream.  But here, Jews finally found a place where their faith was protected; where hard work and responsibility paid off; where no matter who you were or where you came from, you could make it if you tried.  Here in America, you really could build a better life for your children.

I know how much that story means to many of you, because I know how much that story means to me.  My father was from Kenya; my mother was from Kansas — not places with a large Jewish community.  But when my Jewish friends tell me about their ancestors, I feel a connection.  I know what it’s like to think, “Only in America is my story even possible.”

More after the jump.
Now I have to interrupt.  My friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz just got in the house.  (Applause.)  

Now, the Jewish community has always understood that the dream we share is about more than just doing well for yourself.  From the moment our country was founded, American Jews have helped make our union more perfect.  Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, they remembered what it was like to be a stranger, and as a result treated strangers with compassion.  They pursued tikkun olam, the hard work of repairing the world.  

They fought bigotry because they had experienced bigotry.  They fought for freedom of religion because they understood what it meant to be persecuted for your religious beliefs.  Our country is a better place because they did.  The same values that bring you here today led Justice Brandeis to fight for an America that protects the least of these.  Those same values led Jewish leaders to found RAC 50 years ago. They led Abraham Joshua Heschel to pray with his feet and march with Dr. King. And over the last three years, they have brought us together on the most important issues of our time.

When we began this journey, we knew we would have to take on powerful special interests.  We would have to take on a Washington culture where doing what’s politically convenient is often valued above doing what’s right; where the focus is too often on the next election instead of the next generation.

And so time and time again, we’ve been reminded that change is never easy.  And a number of the rabbis who are here today, when I see them, they’d been saying a prayer.  They noticed my hair is grayer.  (Laughter.)  But we didn’t quit.  You didn’t quit.  And today, we’re beginning to see what change looks like.

And Eric mentioned what change looks like.  Change is the very first bill I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which says in this country an equal day’s work gets an equal day’s pay.  That’s change.  

Change is finally doing something about our addiction to oil and raising fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years.  That’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  And it’s good for our environment.

Change is confirming two Supreme Court justices who will defend our rights, including our First Amendment rights surrounding religion — happen to be two women, by the way.  That’s also a good thing.  

Change is repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that in the first time in history, you don’t have to hide who you love to serve the country that you love.  That’s change.  

Change is working with the Reform movement, and other faith-based groups, to reform the federal faith-based initiatives, improving the way we partner with organizations that serve people in need.  Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying, reform that will finally ensure that in the United States of America, nobody goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  That’s change.

Change is the 2.5 million young people — maybe some of those NFTY folks who have already  who have health insurance on their parents’ plans because of Affordable Care Act.  That’s change.

It’s making family planning more accessible to millions of Americans. It’s insurance companies not being able to charge you more just because you’re a woman, or deny you coverage if you have breast cancer.

Change is committing to real, persistent education reform, because every child in America deserves access to a good school and to higher education — every child.

And change is keeping one of the first promises I made in 2008:  After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is ending this month and our troops are coming home.

That’s what change is.  And none of this would have happened without you.  That’s the kind of change we’ll keep fighting for in the months and years ahead.

And just last night, you took another step towards the change we need and voted for a set of principles of economic justice in a time of fiscal crisis. And I want to thank you for your courage.  That statement could not have come at a more important time.  For as you put it, we’re at a crossroads in American history.  Last Tuesday, I gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, where I described that crossroads.  And I laid out a vision of our country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  And these are not Democratic values or Republican values; they’re not Christian values or Jewish values or Hindu or Muslim values — they’re shared values, and we have to reclaim them.  We have to restore them to a central place in America’s political life.  

I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  This is not just a political debate.  This is a moral debate.  This is an ethical debate.  It’s a values debate.  It’s the defining issue of our time.  It is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  And for those of us who remember parents or grandparents or great-grandparents who had to fight to get in the middle class, but they understood that the American Dream was available to them because we were all in it together &mndash; that’s what this is about.  And last night, you reaffirmed the moral dimension of this debate.

We have to decide who we are as a country.  Is this a place where everyone is left to fend for themselves?  The most powerful can play by their own rules?  Or do we come together to make sure that working people can earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to college, buy their own home, have a secure health care and a secure retirement?  That is the story that almost all of us here share, in one way or another.  This is a room full of folks who come from immigrants, and remember what it was like to scratch and claw and work.  You haven’t forgotten.  You know what it’s like to see those in your own family struggle.

Well, we have to apply those same values to the American family.  We’re not a country that says, you’re on your own.  When we see neighbors who can’t find work or pay for college or get the health care they need, we answer the call — we say, “Here I am.”  And we will do our part.

That’s what you affirmed last night.  But more importantly, it’s what you affirm every day with your words and your actions.  And I promise you that as you pray with your feet, I will be right there with you every step of the way.  I’ll be fighting to create jobs, and give small businesses a chance to succeed.  I’ll be fighting to invest in education and technology.  I will fight to strengthen programs like Medicare and Social Security.  I will fight to put more money in the pockets of working families.  I won’t be afraid to ask the most well-off among us — Americans like me — to pay our fair share, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.  I will fight alongside you every inch of the way.

And as all of you know, standing up for our values at home is only part of our work.  Around the world, we stand up for values that are universal — including the right of all people to live in peace and security and dignity. That’s why we’ve worked on the international stage to promote the rights of women to promote strategies to alleviate poverty —  to promote the dignity of all people, including gays and lesbians — and people with disabilities —  to promote human rights and democracy.  And that’s why, as President, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel.   I have not wavered and will not waver.  That is our shared vision.  

Now, I know that many of you share my frustration sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process.  There’s so much work to do.  But here’s what I know — there’s no question about how lasting peace will be achieved.  Peace can’t be imposed from the outside.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.

And the fact that peace is hard can’t deter us from trying.  Because now more than ever, it’s clear that a just and lasting peace is in the long-term interests of Israel.  It is in the long-term interests of the Palestinian people.  It is in the interest of the region.  It is the interest of the United States, and it is in the interest of the world.  And I am not going to stop in pursuit of that vision.  It is the right thing to do.

Now, that vision begins with a strong and secure State of Israel.  And the special bonds between our nations are ones that all Americans hold dear because they’re bonds forged by common interests and shared values.  They’re bonds that transcend partisan politics — or at least they should.

We stand with Israel as a Jewish democratic state because we know that Israel is born of firmly held values that we, as Americans, share:  a culture committed to justice, a land that welcomes the weary, a people devoted to tikkun olam.

So America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.  It is unshakeable.

I said it in September at the United Nations.  I said it when I stood amid the homes in Sderot that had been struck by missiles:  No nation can tolerate terror.  And no nation can accept rockets targeting innocent men, women and children.  No nation can yield to suicide bombers.

And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security.  In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours.  None.  Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It is a fact.

I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history.  I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks.

Another grave concern — and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world — is Iran’s nuclear program.  And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear:  We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced.  We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it.  And we’re going to keep up the pressure.  And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table.  We have been clear.

We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most.  In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely.  Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze.

On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel.  And we will continue to do so.  That’s what friends and allies do for each other.  So don’t let anybody else tell a different story.  We have been there, and we will continue to be there.  Those are the facts.  

And when I look back on the last few years, I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made, and I’m proud of what we’ve done together.  But today isn’t about resting on our laurels.  As your tradition teaches, we’re not obligated to finish the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.

We’ve got to keep going.  So today we look forward to the world not just as it is but as it could be.  And when we do, the truth is clear:  Our union is not yet perfect.  Our world is still in desperate need of repair.  And each of us still hears that call.

And the question is, how we will respond?  In this moment, every American, of every faith, every background has the opportunity to stand up and say:  Here I am.  Hineni.  Here I am.  I am ready to keep alive our country’s promise.  I am ready to speak up for our values at home and abroad.  I am ready to do what needs to be done.  The work may not be finished in a day, in a year, in a term, in a lifetime, but I’m ready to do my part.

And I believe that with tradition as our guide, we will seize that opportunity.  And in the face of daunting odds, we will make the choices that are hard but are right.  That’s how we’ve overcome tougher times before.  That’s how we will overcome the challenges that we face today.  And together, we will rewrite the next chapter in America’s story and prove that our best days are still to come.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America.

The Traveling Mitzvah Bear


— by Annette Powers

Twelve adorable stuffed bears departed from the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) New York offices on a journey to over 100 early childhood centers in Reform congregations throughout the United States and Canada.

Izzy is looking at the Torah with some Ganon Gil Preschool friends while we were learning about Simchat Torah (Beachwood, Ohio).

Each of the bears — Bernie, Benny, Goldie, Hannah, Herbie, Izzy, Lily, Moishe, Rose, Sadie, Saul and Sylvia — will visit these centers over the 2011-2012 school year to teach young children about the importance of doing mitzvot (good deeds) and the value of hachnasat orchim (hospitality/welcoming the guest.) Each bear comes with a journal, the book Bim and Bom: A Shabbat Tale and ideas about what to do with the bears.

More after the jump.


Rose arrived at Glasser Preschool in Oak Park, IL just in time to make challah for Shabbat!

Some of the suggestions on the list include: preparing the students ahead of time by teaching them about mitzvot and hachnasat orchim, taking pictures of the bear doing good deeds with the students and making cards for the students who will meet the bear next on his travels.

The journal can be used for recording any photos, drawings, or writings related to the bears’ experiences while visiting. Participants can also share on the URJ Traveling Mitzvah Bears Facebook event page.

The book Bim and Bom by Daniel Swartz, donated by The PJ Library, illustrates the importance of mitzvot. The story tells of Bim and her brother Bom who work hard all week, and then spend Fridays doing good deeds. At sundown, they joyfully meet to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath together.

“The Traveling Mitzvah Bear program is a creative and fun way to instill young children with some of the most essential Jewish values,” said Cathy Rolland, URJ’s director of early childhood education, “We look forward to seeing the many creative ways early childhood educators will find to use these bears and the reactions of the children who get to enjoy them.”

Hannah came to B’nai Jehudah Preschool in Kansas. She helped us celebrate Shabbat!

“Our bear just arrived and we are anxious to introduce him to our students and start taking pictures and making memories,” said Arlene Kaufman, director of Temple Trager Early Childhood Education Center in Louisville, Kentucky. “This is such an exciting and innovative program. What a wonderful way to bring our Jewish schools together.”

The bears will gather at the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ) booth at the 2011 URJ Biennial convention in December as a stop-over during their extensive travels.  

Reactions to the Terrorist Attack in Itamar

Saturday morning in Itamar terrorists killed five members of an Israeli family, including three children, in their sleep. We collected responses from the White House, Ameinu, the Union for Reform Judaism, Agudath Israel of America, and B’nai Brith International.

Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people.  There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack and for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be held accountable.

More reactions after the jump.
Kenneth Bob, President of Ameinu:

“This act of terror can not pass silently. Nothing can justify the killing of innocents, particularly children. Israelis and Palestinians must remember their shared humanity and reject brutality and violence.”

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffe, President of the Union for Reform Judaism:

We condemn in the strongest of terms the senseless massacre of an innocent Israeli family in their sleep. The thought of a knife slaughter which included victims, ages eleven, four and three-months is sickening to us. There is no place in this world, or in the struggle for peace in the Middle East, for this sort of violence.

We pray for the three surviving children in the family, all under the age of 12, who are left without their parents and siblings. No child should ever be forced to go through what these children are undoubtedly going through and our hearts go out to them and all members of the community of Itamar.

We welcome the condemnations of the attacks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. We urge them to follow-through on their statements with actions that bring the perpetrators to justice and strongly reinforce the message that violence like this will not be tolerated by the Palestinian leadership. Further, we support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to safeguard the citizens of Israel and punish the murderers.

We call for swift justice for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, which claimed responsibility for the attack, characterizing it as a “heroic operation.” This sort of blatant disregard for the value of human life is appalling and we hope that together the Israelis and the Palestinians will work to ensure that this violence remains an isolated incident and does not escalate.

Agudath Israel of America:

Every person with a Jewish heart-in fact every person with an unsullied human heart-feels only sorrow, anguish and outrage over what befell the Fogel family in Itamar this past Shabbos night.

There comes a point when words cannot convey the depth of evil.  No phrase in any language can truly describe the depravity of people who are capable of creeping into a peaceful home in the middle of the night and stab to death an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, a baby girl three months of age and their parents.

And so we are left with only the heartbreak and tears, and the pools of innocent Jewish blood that the perpetrators of these despicable acts left behind in their evil wake.

May the world be left with something too: a better appreciation of why Israelis might be reluctant to trust the intentions of people who hate them so viscerally, and of authorities whose media and school textbooks feed demonization of “Zionists” to their violence-prone culture.

May the blood of these precious innocents be avenged soon and fully by the Av Harachamim.

B’nai B’rith International:

B’nai B’rith International condemns the brutal and horrific murders of Udi and Ruth Fogel and their children Yoav, 11; Elad, 4 and Hadas, 3 months, in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar on March 11, on the eve of Shabbat.

“An attack of this nature defies comprehension,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Acts of brutality like this make a total mockery of the peace process.”

The attack was claimed by terrorist group Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Imad Mughniyeh.

“The murder of this family was the act of inhuman and depraved individuals,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The constant stream of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hate speech and incitement condoned by the Palestinian authorities, since the Oslo Accords of 1993, breeds the kind of despicable violence that ended the lives of this family.”

B’nai B’rith International stands in solidarity with the friends and family of the Fogels, and with the Israeli people as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of the attack.

Reform Movement Denounces Glenn Beck’s Attack on Religious Values

— Annette Powers

“Beck’s sweeping dismissal of the religious faith of a million and a half North American Jews was both tragic and outrageous.

Speaking on his Tuesday radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck brought up the recent letter that more than 400 rabbis signed and placed as an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal criticizing him for repeatedly comparing his ideological foes to Nazis. He claimed that this letter, coordinated by Jewish Funds for Justice, was dominated by Reform rabbis, and dismissed the Movement as akin to “radicalized Islam.” Reform rabbis, he said, “are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way.” His comparison was “not about terror,” he stressed, but “about politics, and so it becomes more about politics than it does about faith.”

In response to these remarks, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism issued the following statement:

We are deeply distressed by Glenn Beck’s profoundly offensive remarks about Reform Judaism and Reform rabbis.  Beck’s sweeping dismissal of the religious faith of a million and a half North American Jews was both tragic and outrageous.

Reform Judaism, a proud and venerable religious tradition, does not accept Mr. Beck as the arbiter of what is spiritual and what is not, of who has faith and who does not, of what constitutes real religion and what does not.   We respect his faith and demand that he respect ours.  Our members, who — like others in North America — apply their religious values to the problems of the broader society, are happy to have Mr. Beck disagree with us on any position that one or more of us may take, but not to make pronouncements and sweeping condemnations that he has neither the right nor the knowledge to make.

We are particularly incensed that Mr. Beck chose to compare Reform Judaism with “radicalized Islam.”  While noting that Reform Judaism is not about “terror,” he implied the opposite — or, at the very least, that the religious faith of the largest segment of North American Jewry is extremist and fanatic.

Mr. Beck’s comments are offensive to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.  Speaking in sweeping generalizations about other religious traditions is offensive.  Imputing radicalism and fanaticism to large religious groups is offensive.  Dismissing the heartfelt religious beliefs of millions of North Americans is offensive.  Mr. Beck should be ashamed of his comments, and we hope that he will have the good sense never to repeat them.

Transcript of Beck’s comments follows the jump.

Reposted from Media Matters for America

Last month, 400 rabbis signed an open letter from Jewish Funds For Justice to Rupert Murdoch requesting that Glenn Beck be sanctioned for his false claims that George Soros collaborated with the Nazis.

Today, rather than apologizing, Beck lashed out at the rabbis. Beck falsely claimed that “all” of the rabbis who signed the letter came from the Reform movement of Judaism. Beck asserted that Reform Judaism is “more about politics” than about faith. Beck went on to liken Reform Judaism to “radicalized Islam.”

Transcript

PAT GRAY (co-host): And now remember, this is all fueled by an organization that Soros funds, that has a bunch of progressive rabbis that came out against Glenn and said —

BECK: OK, you have to — hang on just a second. When you talk about rabbis, understand that most — most people who are not Jewish don’t understand that there are the Orthodox rabbis, and then there are the Reformed rabbis. Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics. I’m not saying that they’re the same on —

GRAY: No, obviously not.

BECK: — and they’re going to take it at that, but — stand in line.

GRAY: “Glenn Beck says –“

BECK: It’s not about terror or anything else, it’s about politics, and so it becomes more about politics than it does about faith. Orthodox rabbis — that is about faith. There’s not a single Orthodox rabbi on this list. This is all Reformed rabbis that were — that made this list.

STU BURGURIERE (executive producer): Yeah, I don’t know that for a fact. I know that certainly this organization is a progressive political organization. And that’s fine.

These are pretty outrageous claims — even for Beck.

First of all, the letter was signed by rabbis from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstruction, and Reform movements. So Beck is dead wrong about that.

But more importantly, the Reform movement isn’t some fringe, radical group that has abandoned Judaism; it’s the largest religious denomination American Jews.

According to the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01, 35 percent of American Jews consider themselves to be Reform, compared to 10 percent who consider themselves to be Orthodox and 26 percent who consider themselves to be Conservative.

Similarly, the survey found that 39 percent — a plurality — of American Jewish households that belong to a synagogue are Reform.

According to its website, the Union for Reform Judaism includes “more than 900 congregations in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands” and “is the largest Jewish movement in North America and represents an estimated 1.5 million Jews.”

That’s a lot of Jews that Beck just smeared.

Patriot Act Vote a Victory for Civil Liberties

— Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

We welcome yesterday’s vote by the House of Representatives against reauthorizing provisions within the Patriot Act that weaken Americans’ civil liberties. As the 2003 resolution titled Civil Liberties and National Security: Striking the Proper Balance, passed by the Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees pointed out, the Patriot Act included provisions that did not serve our national security interests and were intrusions in our civil liberties. Among these are the provisions voted on yesterday that allow roving wiretaps on surveillance targets, give access to library records and other information, and permit wiretaps of targets not connected to a terrorist organization. Yesterday’s bipartisan vote of opposition is hopefully the start of an essential conversation about how to best ensure the safety of our nation while preserving the core values that make America great.

This vote was held under a rules suspension that required a 2/3 vote for passage. While we recognize that the bill will likely be voted on again without a rules suspension, allowing for a simple majority to pass it, we urge the members of the 112th Congress to continue to oppose the reauthorization of these Patriot Act provisions and uphold the liberties that are the pride of our nation.