Created in the Image of God: Women’s League Reacts to Issues
by Dr. Marilyn Lishnoff Wind
Our tradition tells us that we are
created in the image of God. It tells us that we must
take care of widows, children, and the poor. Caring
for the sick is of utmost importance. Israel and Jerusalem
are vital to our lives as Jews.
Over the past several months, Women’s League
for Conservative Judaism has been reinforcing our commitment to those
truths and has spoken out on different topics in different ways. First,
we look at Women’s League resolutions, which have a firm basis in Jewish
law and tradition, and take stands consonant with them. Given the
realities of today’s world, Women’s League often is asked to become involved
in rapidly changing issues. In many cases, we have a very short time to
make a decision about whether or not to become involved, take a stand,
or sign onto a statement. Whenever possible, we urge members to make
their voices heard to local and congressional representatives.
Last year we signed onto an amicus brief with the Anti-Defamation
League and other organizations in a complex Supreme Court case in which
an American born in Jerusalem is suing to have the place of birth on
his passport listed as Jerusalem, Israel, rather than just Jerusalem, as
mandated by a law passed by Congress. However, the Court is interested
in whether the legislative branch of government had a right to
make such a requirement or whether that kind of decision should be reserved
for the executive branch.
We also signed a letter to Congress in support
of the Respect for Marriage Act, repealing
the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing
federal benefits to flow to same sex couples
who have been married lawfully in states
that recognize these unions. Last summer,
at the first hearing on the DOMA since
1996, we were asked to publicize the range
of support for the Respect for Marriage Act.
The National Defense Authorization Act,
presented by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of
New Hampshire, would allow the Department
of Defense to provide coverage of abortion
for women who have been raped or are
victims of incest. This option is not available
now to women in uniform or the families
of men in uniform. Women’s League
joined a letter of support initiated by the
Religious Action Center.
With the National Task Force to End Sexual
and Domestic Violence, Women’s League
supported the reauthorization of the Violence
Against Women Act. This legislation,
introduced in November with bipartisan
support, will continue proven effective programs.
Since the act first passed in 1994,
more victims reported domestic violence,
and nonfatal violence against women by
intimate partners decreased by 63 percent.
The law provides for a coordinated community
approach, which not only saves lives
but has saved $12.6 billion in averted costs
in its first six years.
Women still earn only a fraction of a dollar
for every dollar a man earns. To begin
to rectify some of that inequality, we have
signed letters by the Leadership Conference
on Civil and Human Rights Employment
Task Force and the Paycheck Fairness Coalition
for input on a data collection tool
that will generate data on compensation
of women in the work force. We also signed
onto letters to the Office of Federal Contract
Compliance Programs on a proposed
new data collection tool that would
generate data on potential problems of
compensation discrimination by federal
contractors and subcontractors.
As these and other important issues arise,
we will continue to work with our partners,
keep our members informed, and speak
out as we are required to by Jewish
Dr. Marilyn Lishnoff Wind is Women’s League chair of public policy and
United Synagogue’s vice president for youth services and education. A member
of Kol Shalom in North Bethesda, Maryland, she is one of five laypeople
on the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.