Tag Archives: President Obama

New video highlights Obama speech on American Jews and social change


It’s no secret that American Jews have a rich legacy of involvement in American social movements—the labor movement, the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, LGBT rights and immigration reform, to name just a few.

That’s why we’re so moved by this powerful new video, Hineni, created by our friends and colleagues at the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. Built around a moving speech by President Obama, this video chronicles how American Jews have played key roles in the arc of social change. As President Obama notes, American Jews have “made a difference on so many of the defining issues of the last half century. The world’s a better place for it.”

The video features AJWS President Ruth Messinger, along with many other familiar Jewish leaders. Take a look!

And if you missed Ruth’s op-ed about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, check it out here. How will you carry this work forward in the new year?

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My 2013 Summer Reading List

When summer rolls around, I try to carve out some quiet moments to catch up on my reading. At AJWS, it’s become a tradition for me to share my summer reading list with the staff. This year, I wanted to share it with the whole AJWS family. And even though summer is winding down, I hope you’ll still find time to breeze through a few more books before Labor Day.

The list is in no particular order. Happy reading!

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin: Brilliant, detailed history of Lincoln, his rise to the Presidency and his shaping of his Cabinet.

Transatlantic by Colum McCann: A brilliant new novel weaving together several stories of and about Ireland, Frederick Douglass and George Mitchell. An amazing book!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: First of a trilogy of historical novels, this one is about Sir Thomas More, Oliver Cromwell and that era of 16th century British history.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: Second volume of the trilogy, which I found in a local bookstore after liking Wolf Hall so much. This one deals with the life of Henry the VIII and Cromwell in the years after Wolf Hall, starting about 1535. Read More »

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President Obama’s Push for Peace in Senegal

President Obama was in Senegal last week, the first stop on his three-country visit to Africa. The trip kicks off Obama’s efforts to deepen the United States’ engagement in Africa focusing on trade and investment, democratic institution-building and economic opportunities for young people. The president is traveling with a team of economic advisors and representatives from the private sector and will be speaking with members of civil society and judicial leaders.

Why Senegal Was Chosen

The US ambassador to Senegal affirmed that Senegal was selected because of its political stability and democratic record. Indeed, the Senegalese people are the pride of West Africa because last year they peacefully elected as president an opposition member in a highly contested presidential race. The country plays an important diplomatic role in francophone Africa. It is a large contributor of troops to international peacekeeping missions and a strong US ally in fighting transnational security threats including terrorism, drug trafficking and maritime piracy.

We were thrilled to see Senegal host President Obama and it was a moment to celebrate his homecoming to the land of Teranga (hospitality). Read More »

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What Does Obama’s Visit to Burma Mean for Burmese People?

The night before President Obama’s historic visit to Burma last month, Nge Nge—a Burmese woman from Rangoon—was so excited that she couldn’t sleep. In the morning, she was the first person to arrive at the University of Rangoon where Obama was scheduled to deliver his speech. Nge Nge had graduated from the University of Rangoon in 1988. Upon returning to her old stomping ground, she recalled, “This university used to be vibrant and warm with students who had close relationships with professors and had an enjoyable learning atmosphere. Students could ask professors if they did not understand something. Now, those times have gone.” Read More »

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President Obama and the Many Meanings of “Justice”

President Obama declared this past week, “Justice has been done.” I work for an organization that throws around the word “justice” every day, and also none too lightly. The juxtaposition left me uneasy.

At AJWS, we speak about justice in many different contexts. Sometimes the context is our work, for example, on “food justice,” described by Gottlieb and Joshi as “[a movement seeking] to ensure that the benefits and risks of where, what, and how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed and eaten are shared fairly.” Sometimes the context is specifically Jewish, as reads the oft-quoted line from a commandment-heavy section of Deuteronomy, “Tzedek tzedek tirdof” – “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” That, however, does not quite help me understand what the President meant by “justice.” I think this is because the President’s “justice” translates in Hebrew not to tzedek, but to din. Read More »

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