Welcome to Haggadot.com (the "Site"). Haggadot.com, customandcraft.org, [email protected] and all future,
as-yet-to-be-created brands are projects of Custom & Craft Jewish Rituals, Inc., which is the legal name of this
California nonprofit organization (hereinafter referred to as “Haggadot.com”). All projects of Custom & Craft Jewish
Rituals are subject to the Terms of Service described below. This Terms of Service ("TOS") contain the terms and
conditions that govern your use of the Site, and the Haggadot.com Service (as defined below). This TOS describes your
rights and responsibilities and what you can expect from the Haggadot.com Service. Use of the Site constitutes your
acceptance of and agreement to this TOS.
Haggadot.com reserves the right to add, delete, and/or modify any of the terms and conditions contained in this TOS, at any time and in its sole discretion, by posting a change notice or a new agreement on the Haggadot.com Site. In the event of substantive changes to this TOS, you may be notified by email. If any modification is unacceptable to you, your only recourse is to not use the Site and the Haggadot.com Service. Your continued use of the Haggadot.com Site following posting of a change notice or new TOS on the Haggadot.com Site will constitute binding acceptance of the changes.
The Haggadot.com Service.
Haggadot.com provides a number of Internet-based services through the Site as well as any other Haggadot.com affiliate websites, digital content, mobile applications, online service or anywhere the TOS are shown (all such services, collectively, the "Haggadot.com Service"). One such service enables users to create customized products, including without limitation, merchandise and books (collectively, "Products"). Haggadot.com users may create and purchase individual Products for their own personal use. Haggadot.com may offer a number of other services on its Site, including without limitation, message boards, contests, and newsletters, which may change from time to time.
Use of the Web Site and Haggadot.com Service.
Eligibility. Haggadot.com will only knowingly provide the Haggadot.com Service to parties that can lawfully enter into and form contracts under applicable law. If you are under the age of 18, but at least 13 years of age, you may use the Haggadot.com Service only under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian who agrees to be bound by this TOS. The Haggadot.com Service is not intended for children under the age of 13.
Compliance with TOS and Applicable Law. You must comply with all of the terms and conditions of this TOS, the applicable agreements and policies referred to below, and all applicable laws, regulations and rules when you use the Haggadot.com Service and the Site.
Your License to Use the Web Site and the Haggadot.com Service.
Haggadot.com solely and exclusively owns all intellectual property and other rights, title and interest in and to the Haggadot.com Service and Site, except as expressly provided for in these TOS. For example and without limitation, Haggadot.com owns the copyrights in and to the Site, and certain technology used in providing the Haggadot.com Service. You will not acquire any right, title or interest therein under this TOS or otherwise to any intellectual property owned by Haggadot.com.
Haggadot.com grants you a limited revocable license to access and use the Site and the Haggadot.com Service for your own personal purposes, subject to your compliance with this TOS. This license does not include the right to collect or use information contained on the Site for purposes prohibited by Haggadot.com; to compete with Haggadot.com; to create derivative works based on the content of the Site; or download or copy the Site (other than page caching). If you use the Site in a manner that exceeds the scope of this license or you breach this TOS, Haggadot.com may revoke the license granted to you.
This Section 2.3 does not pertain to your intellectual property rights. For information regarding your intellectual property rights, please see Section 4.
Third-Party Content: Wherever Haggadot.com websites, online services, and digital content make reference to third party organizations or include information, content, or graphics from third parties, Haggadot.com assumes third-party content is for general informational purposes only and displaying third-party content does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of the opinion, product or service. Haggadot.com makes no claim as to the accuracy or relevance of third-party content. If you decide to access any other websites linked to or from this website, you do so entirely at your own risk.
Prohibited Use. You may only use the Haggadot.com Service as expressly permitted by Haggadot.com. You may not cause harm to the Site or the Haggadot.com Service. Specifically, but not by way of limitation, you may not: (i) interfere with the Haggadot.com Service by using viruses or any other programs or technology designed to disrupt or damage any software or hardware; (ii) modify, create derivative works from, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any technology used to provide the Haggadot.com Service; (iii) use a robot, spider or other device or process to monitor the activity on or copy pages from the Site, except in the operation or use of an internet "search engine," hit counters or similar technology; (iv) collect electronic mail addresses or other information from third parties by using the Haggadot.com Service; (v) impersonate another person or entity; (vi) use any meta tags, search terms, key terms, or the like that contain Haggadot.com's name or trademarks; (vii) engage in spamming or any activity that interferes with another user's ability to use or enjoy the Haggadot.com Service; (viii) assist or encourage any third party in engaging in any activity prohibited by this TOS; (ix) upload to, transmit through, or display any material that is unlawful, fraudulent, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, or otherwise objectionable or that infringes any third party’s intellectual property rights or any confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information of any third party; (x) upload, transmit, or display any advertisements, solicitations, chain letters, pyramid schemes, investment opportunities, or other unsolicited commercial communications (unless expressly permitted); (xi) display adult nudity or inappropriate child nudity; (xii) use the Site for sale of goods or services; or (xiii) upload photographs or other content depicting images or people who have not given permission to have their photographs or images uploaded to a share site.
Password Security. You are solely responsible for protecting the security and confidentiality of the password and identification assigned to you. You shall immediately notify us of any unauthorized use of your password or identification or any other breach or threatened breach of this website’s security.
Ordering Policies. If you purchase Products, you agree to do so in accordance with Haggadot.com's ordering policies and instructions on the Site. Your order constitutes an obligation to pay, subject to acceptance by Haggadot.com at our sole discretion. Your order is accepted by us when we ship the goods to you. An order confirmation does not signify our acceptance of your order, but merely confirms receipt of your order. We will send you a shipment confirmation once your order is accepted. Haggadot.com reserves the right to cancel any order prior to delivery at our sole and absolute discretion, whether or not you have already been charged. If your order is canceled pursuant to this section, and you have already been charged, Haggadot.com will automatically issue a refund to you. As the products are individually produced, an approximate availability and delivery time are shown alongside the product description prior to order completion. The products will be delivered as soon as they are available. The times are estimates only and cannot be guaranteed. At the latest, delivery will occur within thirty (30) days from acceptance of your order by Haggadot.com. Please note that Haggadot.com is not able to deliver to all regions worldwide. All prices are subject to the delivery charges, as well as any applicable taxes, duties, fees, or levies. Haggadot.com reserves the right to change the prices published on the Services at any time. However, orders already submitted to us will not be affected by such changes. Title to the Products you purchase passes to you when the Products are delivered to the common carrier.
Create and Buy General Rules and License.
Description. As part of the Haggadot.com Service, Haggadot.com offers a service (the "Create & Buy Service") that allows you to upload images, video, audio, data, and other content as well as text, files, and works of authorship (collectively, "Content") to the Site to create, produce, and purchase Products featuring the uploaded Content for your own use. “Content” also includes without limitation, any Content that you contribute or share with other members through the Site.
Delivery of Content. You will upload or deliver to Haggadot.com all Content that you want to use with the Create & Buy Service in accordance with the applicable instructions on the Site. Haggadot.com may, in its sole and exclusive discretion, determine whether any Content complies with such instructions and is satisfactory for use with the Create & Buy Service.
Ownership of your Content. You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise possess all necessary rights with respect to the Content and that the Content does not and will not infringe, misappropriate, use, or disclose without authorization or otherwise violate any copyright, trademark, trade secret right, or other intellectual property or other property right of any third party.
Use of Likeness. You consent to the use of your likeness, and you have obtained the written consent, release, and/or permission of every identifiable individual who appears in the Content to use such individual’s likeness, for purposes of using and otherwise exploiting the Content in the manner contemplated by these TOS. If any such identifiable individual is under the age of eighteen (18), you have obtained such written consent, release, and/or permission from such individual’s parent or guardian. You agree to provide a copy of any such consents, releases, and/or permissions upon our request.
Licensing Your Content to Haggadot.com. You will retain ownership of the Content that you upload to the Site. You hereby grant to Haggadot.com a perpetual, irrevocable, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide, transferable, nonexclusive, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right and license to: (i) use such Content, in all media existing now or created in the future, as Haggadot.com deems necessary to enable you to use the Create & Buy Service to create, produce, and purchase Products; (ii) with respect to any Content that you expressly designate as being “public,” to link to, use, reproduce, create derivative works from, license, sublicense, distribute, print, publicly display, and otherwise utilize your Content including, without limitation, making your Content available to the Haggadot.com community. Please note that, while you retain ownership of your Content, any template or layout in which you arrange or organize your Content through tools and features made available through the Site or the Haggadot.com Service are not proprietary to you, and the rights to such template or layout are reserved to Haggadot.com.
Licensing Your Content to other Haggadot.com Members. Except for any of your Content that you specify as “private” during the submission process, you also hereby grant all other members of the Haggadot.com community a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable license to use, copy, publicly display, create derivative works from, and otherwise communicate and distribute your Content for any purpose on or through the Site or the Haggadot.com Service and/or in the Haggadot.com member’s own products. You acknowledge and agree that any such Haggadot.com member can exercise the foregoing rights without further notice, payment, or attribution to you. For avoidance of doubt, any of your Content that you designate as “public” will not be limited to any restricted purpose and is provided on a non-proprietary and non-confidential basis and will be generally accessible by other users of the Site and Haggadot.com Service.
Reservation of Rights.
Monitoring. Haggadot.com reserves the right, but does not assume the obligation, to monitor transactions and communications that occur through the Site. If Haggadot.com determines, in its sole and absolute discretion, that you or another Haggadot.com user will breach a term or condition of this TOS or that such transaction or communication is inappropriate, Haggadot.com may cancel such transaction or take any other action to restrict access to or the availability of any material that may be considered objectionable, without any liability to you or any third party.
Modification of the Service. Haggadot.com reserves the right to modify the organization, structure or "look and feel" of the Haggadot.com Service or the Site, and may change, suspend, or discontinue any aspect of the Haggadot.com Service at any time without any liability to you or any third party. Haggadot.com shall have complete discretion over the features, functions, prices and other terms and conditions on which the Haggadot.com Service is offered to Haggadot.com users.
You shall not upload, distribute, or otherwise publish through this website any content, information, or other material that (a) violates or infringes the copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, or other proprietary rights of any person; (b) is libelous, threatening, defamatory, obscene, indecent, pornographic, or could give rise to any civil or criminal liability under U.S. or international law; or (c) includes any bugs, viruses, worms, trap doors, Trojan horses or other harmful code or properties.
Haggadot.com reserves the right to immediately remove any content it deems offensive, or in violation of these Terms and Conditions. Haggadot.com also reserves the right to remove a user account, without notice, if the user has been found to pose a threat to other users or has violated any rule laid out in the Terms and Conditions.
Copyright and Trademark Issues
While we are not obligated to review Content for copyright or trademark infringement, we are committed to protecting copyrights and trademarks and expect users of our Site and Haggadot.com Services to do the same. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (the “DMCA”) provides recourse for copyright owners who believe that material appearing on the internet infringes their rights under U.S. copyright law. If you believe in good faith that any material used or displayed on or through our Site or the Haggadot.com Services infringes your copyright, you (or your agent) may send us a notice requesting that the material be removed, or access to it blocked. The notice must include the following information:
a physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed; identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed (or, if multiple copyrighted works are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works); identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or the subject of infringing activity, and information reasonably sufficient to allow us to locate the material on our Site and/or the Haggadot.com Services; the name, address, telephone number and email address (if available) of the complaining party; a statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
If you believe in good faith that a notice of copyright infringement has been wrongly filed against you, the DMCA permits you to send us a counter-notice. Notices and counter-notices must meet the then-current statutory requirements imposed by the DMCA; see http://www.copyright.gov for details. DMCA notices and counter-notices regarding our Site and the Haggadot.com Services, or notices concerning trademark use in personalized products we make or in our Site and the Haggadot.com Services, should be sent to:
Haggadot.com PO Box 385 Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 [email protected]
Upon receipt of a compliant DMCA Takedown Notice, Haggadot.com will investigate the claim, take appropriate action and serve the notice on our member. If a member submits a DMCA Counter-Notice, Haggadot.com will forward such notice to the party that submitted the relevant DMCA Takedown Notice and allow the member to repost the disputed content after 10 days, as provided by law. Haggadot.com reserves the right to terminate the account of any member who repeatedly infringes the copyright rights of others, as determined in Haggadot.com’s sole discretion.
Representations and Warranties.
Mutual Representations and Warranties. You represent and warrant to Haggadot.com and Haggadot.com represents and warrants to you: (i) that you or it has the full power and authority to enter into and perform under this TOS, (ii) the execution and performance of your or its obligations under this TOS does not constitute a breach of or conflict with any other agreement or arrangement by which you or it is bound, and (iii) this TOS is a legal, valid and binding obligation of the party entering into this TOS, enforceable in accordance with its terms and conditions.
By You. In addition to any other representations and warranties contained in this Agreement, You represent and warrant to Haggadot.com that, in your use of the Haggadot.com Service, you: (i) will not infringe the copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, right of privacy, right of publicity or other legal right of any third party, and (ii) will comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. You further represent and warrant to Haggadot.com that: (i) there are no claims, demands or any form of litigation pending, or to the best of your knowledge, threatened with respect to any of your Content; (ii) Haggadot.com will not be required to make any payments to any third party in connection with its use of your Content, except for the expenses that Haggadot.com incurs in providing the Haggadot.com Service; (iii) the use of any instructions, formulae, recommendations, or the like contained in your Content will not cause injury to any third party; and (iv) your Content does not contain viruses or any other programs or technology designed to disrupt or damage any software or hardware.
Disclaimers and Exclusions.
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. Haggadot.com PROVIDES THE SITE AND Haggadot.com SERVICE ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS. Haggadot.com DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE SITE, Haggadot.com SERVICE OR ITS USE: (i) WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, (ii) WILL BE FREE OF INACCURACIES OR ERRORS, (iii) WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR (iv) WILL OPERATE IN THE CONFIGURATION OR WITH THE HARDWARE OR SOFTWARE YOU USE. Haggadot.com MAKES NO WARRANTIES OTHER THAN THOSE MADE EXPRESSLY IN THESE TOS, AND HEREBY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF TITLE, ACCURACY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, MERCHANTABILITY, NON-INFRINGEMENT AND ANY WARRANTIES THAT MAY ARISE FROM A COURSE OF DEALING, COURSE OF PERFORMANCE, OR USAGE OF TRADE.
Limitation of Liability.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY APPLICABLE LAW, NEITHER Haggadot.com, NOR ANY OF ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, SHAREHOLDERS, EMPLOYEES, CONTRACTORS, AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES, OR AFFILIATES (COLLECTIVELY, “THE HAGGADOT PARTIES”) SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE OR SPECIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION DAMAGES RELATING TO LOSS OF BUSINESS, LOST PROFITS, LOST DATA, USE, OR LOSS OF GOODWILL) ARISING OUT OF, RELATING TO OR CONNECTED WITH THE USE OF THE Haggadot.com SERVICE OR THIS TOS, BASED ON ANY CAUSE OF ACTION, OR FROM UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR ALTERATION OF YOUR CONTENT OR DATA, EVEN IF A REMEDY SET FORTH HEREIN IS FOUND TO HAVE FAILED ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE AND EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. FURTHERMORE, THE HAGGADOT PARTIES WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY CONTENT UPLOADED. YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR DISSATISFACTION WITH THE SITE OR THE Haggadot.com SERVICE IS TO STOP USING THE SERVICES. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE BY APPLICABLE LAW, THE MAXIMUM LIABILITY OF THE HAGGADOT PARTIES SHALL BE THE ACTUAL PRICE PAID THEREFORE BY YOU. NOTE: CERTAIN JURISDICTIONS MAY NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR CERTAIN OTHER TYPES OF DAMAGES, SO SOME OF THE ABOVE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
Term and Termination.
Term. This TOS shall remain in full force and effect while you use the Site and Services.
Termination. In its sole discretion, with or without notice to you, Haggadot.com may: (i) suspend, limit your access to or terminate your use of the Site and/or the Haggadot.com Service; (ii) suspend, limit your access to or terminate your account; (iii) remove any of your Content from Haggadot.com's servers and directories; and (iv) prohibit you from using the Haggadot.com Service and/or the Site. Upon termination for any reason, your right to access and/or use the Site and/or the Haggadot.com Service will immediately cease.
Survival. Notwithstanding Section 12.2 above, this TOS will survive indefinitely unless and until Haggadot.com chooses to terminate this TOS.
Effect of Termination. If you or Haggadot.com terminates your use of the Site or the Haggadot.com Service, Haggadot.com may delete any Content or other materials relating to your use of the Haggadot.com Service on Haggadot.com's servers or otherwise in its possession. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you understand that any Content you expressly designated as being “Public” and that Haggadot.com or other users of the Site made available in other areas of the Site other than your user profile (including, without limitation, in another user’s library) may not be deleted. Haggadot.com will have no liability to you or any third party for any termination of your use of the Site or Service or for any deletion of your Content or for any Content that was not deleted that remains on the Site.
All notices required or permitted to be given under these TOS (other than in connection with Section 7) will be in writing and delivered to the other party by any of the following methods: (i) U.S. mail, (ii) overnight courier, or (iii) electronic mail. If you give notice to Haggadot.com, you must use the following addresses: 19 Worth St., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 [email protected] & [email protected]. If Haggadot.com provides notice to you, Haggadot.com will use the contact information provided by you to Haggadot.com. All notices will be deemed received as follows: (i) if by delivery by U.S. mail, seven (7) business days after dispatch, (ii) if by overnight courier, on the date receipt is confirmed by such courier service, or (iii) if by electronic mail, 24 hours after the message was sent, if no "system error" or other notice of non-delivery is generated. If applicable law requires that a given communication be "in writing," you agree that email communication will satisfy this requirement.
All disputes arising out of, relating to or connected with these TOS or your use of any part of the Haggadot.com Service will be exclusively resolved under confidential binding arbitration held in California, before and in accordance with the Rules of the American Arbitration Association, by a sole arbitrator applying California law (without regard for conflicts of law principles). The arbitrator's award will be binding and may be entered as a judgment in any court of competent jurisdiction. Any action to enforce an arbitrator's award will be brought in a federal or state court located in California. Each party hereby irrevocably submits to the personal jurisdiction of the Federal and California State courts. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section Can 14, Haggadot.com may seek equitable relief, including, without limitation, injunctive relief and specific performance, without the requirement of posting a bond or other security or proving money damages are insufficient, from a court of competent jurisdiction.
These TOS will be binding upon each party hereto and its successors and permitted assigns, and governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California without reference to conflict of law principles. This TOS is not assignable or transferable by you without the prior written consent of Haggadot.com. This TOS (including all of the policies and other Agreements described in this TOS, which are incorporated herein by this reference) contain the entire understanding of the parties regarding its subject matter, and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements and understandings between the parties regarding its subject matter. No failure or delay by a party in exercising any right, power or privilege under this TOS will operate as a waiver thereof, nor will any single or partial exercise of any right, power or privilege preclude any other or further exercise thereof or the exercise of any other such right, power, or privilege. You and Haggadot.com are independent contractors, and no agency, partnership, joint venture, or employee-employer relationship is intended or created by this TOS.
The learning we do at AVODAH asks us to question previously-held assumptions, and to challenge ourselves to explore perspectives with which we may not agree. Going into those uncomfortable spaces is often the core of meaningful learning. I encourage you to embrace those difficult moments, should they arise as you study this supplement. The seder is a time for wrestling with deep questions; let our questions be a part of your process.
With blessings for a Passover of learning, joy, and a renewed effort to build a more just world,
Cheryl Cook Executive Director, AVODAH
Hunger By Jenny Waxberg and Erin Butler
Background: One of the most common assumptions is that if someone is hungry, that person does not have a job and is living on the streets. What most people don’t realize is that circumstances can change and anyone can experience hunger at some point. It could be the family with two incomes that unexpectedly must get by on one income. It could be the household with mounting medical bills that make it difficult to make ends meet at the end of the month. It could be the senior on a fixed income after a lifetime of hard work. Hunger is a silent but growing epidemic.
People live in food insecure homes if they do not always know where to find the next meal. Many citizens turning to soup kitchens and food pantries are employed but their wages cannot keep up with the cost of living.
Discuss: What does hunger look like to you?
A Kavanah/Intention: May we all answer the Passover call, ‘May all who are hungry come eat’ by educating ourselves about hunger in America and supporting work to alleviate hunger.
Jenny Waxberg and Erin Butler were AVODAH Fellows in 2014 and work at City Harvest in New York.
Lack of Affordable Housing
by Yonah Liberman
Background: The plague of unaffordable housing and rampant homelessness is nothing new. The problems facing the tenants I work with — leaky ceilings, no heat or hot water, patch repairs — are problems that people have faced for centuries. What’s new is the way intentional neglect has reared its ugly head. As a tenant organizer working with people living in multifamily buildings that are in foreclosure, I’ve seen firsthand how landlords get away with it. Private equity firms come together and take out enormous mortgages from banks to buy up millions of dollars worth of property. The “business model” revolves around harassing tenants into leaving their homes so landlords can raise the rents and cut maintenance costs. When people refuse to leave their homes, landlords can’t raise the rents, and they can’t pay back the bank. The bank sells the buildings to the highest bidder, unless tenants get organized and put pressure on it to sell their buildings at a lower price to a responsible investor. That’s the goal I and the tenants I work with strive for everyday.
Discuss: What does the concept of “housing as a human right” mean to you?
A Kavanah/Intention: I intend to fight for the right for all people to housing by holding my elected officials to their promises to build and preserve affordable housing. And if I am living in an urban community, I intend to deepen my understanding of my neighborhood and how I can keep it affordable for my neighbors.
Yonah Lieberman was an AVODAH corps member in 2013-2014 and worked as a tenant organizer at Urban Homesteading Assistance Board in New York.
by Emily Unger
Background: Last week at work, one of my clients called me. He sounded exhausted and unwell. He had suddenly become very sick, he told me. He thought that he needed to go to the hospital. But he was afraid because he couldn’t afford to pay a huge bill. I counseled him that the most he would have to pay for a short hospitalization was the cost of his insurance deductible, but even this amount — over $1,000 — was more than his entire monthly income. He had been putting off medical treatment for days out of fear for the cost.
I eventually persuaded my client to see a doctor, but every day, countless others are faced with a similar choice. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most Americans who once had no health insurance will now be covered. However, many states still refuse to expand their Medicaid programs, leaving millions of the poorest Americans completely uninsured. Moreover, many barriers — unaffordably high co-pays and deductibles, lack of cultural competency among healthcare providers, inaccessibility of health care facilities to people with disabilities — remain, preventing even those with basic health insurance from receiving needed medical care.
Discuss: Share a time when you had to rely on your medical insurance and consider what would have happened had you not been covered.
A Kavanah/Intention: May our healthcare system provide the best possible healing to all those in need, and enable our providers to be the best possible healers.
Emily Unger was an AVODAH corps member in 2013-2014 and worked as an AmeriCorps Paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group
The Threat to Voting Rights byAmelia van Iwaarden
Background: Bend the Arc launched our Voting Rights Campaign to mobilize the Jewish community to support the passage of the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA). This bipartisan bill includes modern protections against discrimination in voting in every part of the country. Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder scrapped the enforcement mechanisms in the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, which provided protections against discriminatory voting laws at the state and local levels. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, we have already seen a flurry of state and local efforts that will make it difficult for communities of color, women, first-time voters, the elderly, and those living in poverty to cast their vote. In my work, I am helping to develop leaders — both organizers in diverse religious communities, and Jewish leaders in social justice organizations — who are addressing systemic issues of racial and economic injustice of which voter suppression is a symptom.
Discuss: There are some who say that there is no need for Jews to be involved in this work, because most American Jews do not belong to the groups experiencing discrimination. Why is it important for Jews to be in this fight as Jews? What role do you think we can play as Jews in protecting voting rights for all Americans?
A Kavanah/Intention: Exodus 22:20 tells us “ You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” This Passover, as we celebrate our freedom, let us recommit to ending oppression wherever we see it.
Amelia van Iwaarden was an AVODAH Fellow in 2014, working at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice
Debt by ErikaVan Gundy
Background: Debt is a primary force that traps individuals in a cycle of deepening poverty. A number of factors contribute to the strong effect that debt has on poverty, including required payments on interest accrued, late fees, predatory products targeted to the short-on-cash, and the inherent insecurity of one’s financial future. In the finance world, there is a distinction between “good debt” and “bad debt,” one which grows in value and the other which becomes costlier over time, respectively. However, debt (student loan, credit card, medical, or other) is almost universally a stressor for those in its grips and an extra factor in decisions such as where to live, what to eat that day, and how many jobs are needed to pay for the above and more. As a financial counselor for low-income New Yorkers, I see debt in terms of people and control. For my clients, debt is a dozen calls per day from creditors seeking repayment, piles of mail that sit unopened out of fear, and a constant tax on mental, financial, and emotional bandwidth.
Discuss: In taking on debt, there is an expectation and hope that your“future self”will be better off than your current self. Reflect on this for a moment. What does this hope mean, and how does it change the way we think about debt and debtors? How can this hope be channeled otherwise as it relates to financial or other aspects of someone’s life?
A Kavanah/Intention: I intend to speak with people from different parts of my life to better understand their experiences with debt, the situations that led them into debt, and how their subsequent decisions were impacted.
Erika Van Gundy was an AVODAH Fellow in 2014 and works for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment
Education byLaura Taishoff
Background: A significant proportion of positive life outcomes depend on the foundation of a quality education. But what does it really mean? We need students to pursue challenging coursework and succeed academically, but education is also about empowerment and building character. It is no secret that the students with the greatest needs are often in the schools with the fewest resources available to meet them. In New Orleans, a city where an overwhelming majority of schools are either private or charter, access to quality education for the city’s most at-risk population is a cocktail of school closings, staff changes, and school-based arrests. I am a high school special education teacher working with students who are past the typical age range for their schooling. They are overage for a variety of factors, but one of the most prevalent is that other schools pushed them out. Despite the fact that they have consistently been denied access to a quality education, these are the students who are pursuing a diploma when it would undoubtedly be easier not to. We should simultaneously be inspired by them and ashamed that so many of them exist.
Discuss: In your best memories of school, how did you feel? Creative? Boundless? Praised? How would it have felt to be told you were not smart or made to feel as if your school did not want you there?
A Kavanah/Intention: I commit to doing my part to create a world in which every student, no matter what neighborhood the student is from, attends a school where students are challenged academically and empowered to be the future leaders of our world.
Laura Taishoff is a special education teacher at ReNew Accelerated High School in New Orleans. Laura is an alumna of the AVODAH 2009-2010 New Orleans cohort.
The Decline of Labor Rights by Lee M. Leviter
Background: For the past several decades, median earnings have been stagnant while hours worked have steadily increased. Why have we been working harder for less and less? Because decreasing union density has led to the disempowerment of workers in all sectors of the economy. Although workers are best able to improve their working conditions when they can make collective demands of their employer, many seek to vilify and weaken collective employee action. Companies like Walmart continue to fight unionization while paying so little that many of their full-time employees qualify for food stamps. Standing together in a union, these workers could negotiate for higher wages. In New York, we have heard calls for a higher minimum wage from workers in the fast-food industry, where pay can be as little as $8 an hour. It’s nearly impossible to survive in New York City at such a wage. As an attorney, I help represent public sector teachers, nurses, and other civil servants in New York City, where the same political and economic pressures threaten public sector employment as a pathway to the middle class
Discuss: If you are an employee, what aspects of your job would you change if you could join with your co-workers and ask? If you are an employer, how would you respond if an employee – or a group of employees – asked to change a particular aspect of the job?
A Kavanah/Intention: As we celebrate freedom this Passover, let us remember that we empower ourselves to fight oppression by acting together.
Lee Leviter was an AVODAH Fellow in 2014 and works as an attorney representing several major public-sector unions.
Immigration byMerri Nicholson
Background: During my AVODAH year at CASA de Maryland, young people (commonly referred to as DREAMers) led the way in utilizing grassroots organizing to successfully pass the Maryland DREAM Act, which expanded access to higher education to students without documentation. These DREAMers also pushed for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people currently living in the United States. Many of these people are the cornerstone of economies from which we all benefit, such as construction and agriculture. They proudly pay taxes and immigrated for the same reasons our families did, to seek a better life or escape violence. Unlike when our families came to the United States, current restrictions make it impossible for most to obtain legal status. Fixing our immigration system will strengthen our communities by keeping families together and lift many out of poverty with expanded access to opportunities such as higher education and quality jobs.
Discuss: What caused your family to come to America? If it wasn’t recent, would they still have been able to immigrate in today’s political climate?
A Kavanah/Intention: May we see a Jewish community that fully embraces our immigrant roots by working for justice in solidarity with those coming to America seeking a better tomorrow.
Merri Nicholson is a research assistant at Academy Health in Washington, DC. Merri is an alum of the AVODAH 2012-2013 Washington, DC cohort.
Systemic Oppression byEmily Saltzman
Background: Oppression is largely defined as the use of authority or power in a cruel or unjust manner. Institutional oppression refers to the power of large systems or institutions that determine the cultural or professional standards for our society. Often these systems were developed from a framework, intentionally or not, that propels certain communities towards success, while keeping others from it. There is also an inextricable link between systematic oppression and poverty. For example, transgender communities of color are more likely to experience poverty due to transphobia in a labor force layered with racism in the educational system. This does not mean that individual members of this community cannot break the cycle of poverty, but it does mean that due to systematic oppression, they will have to struggle harder to reach success.
As Jews, we often think about oppression as it relates to our community’s historical struggle for religious freedom. This experience with historical oppression gives us a jumping-off point to address issues of systematic oppression with which we may not all have first-hand experience, including racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, and transphobia. Our ability to tap into our personal experiences with antisemitism in addition to our community’s struggle allows us to build solidarity with these communities and adds to our call for tikkun olam —to repair the world—because it is a world we share.
Discuss: As Jews, how can we use our experience of oppression to build solidarity with and support communities who are currently experiencing oppression? How might we inadvertently contribute to certain oppressive systems?
A Kavanah/Intention: I intend to challenge myself and my family to think more concretely about the ways systematic oppression affects our lives and what we can do individually to question the systems that we work and live in.
Emily Saltzman is a social worker focusing on comprehensive sexuality education in addition to being a Steering Committee Member of the Undoing Racism Internship Project. Emily is an alumna of the AVODAH 2008-2009 New York City cohort.
Intersecting Oppressions by Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay
Background: Hunger, healthcare, education, threats to voting rights, systemic oppression, lack of affordable housing, immigration, debt, labor restrictions. For many, these plagues intersect and overlap for people in poverty, increasing the obstacles that they must face. High health care bills can trigger hunger, inability to pay for adequate housing and long-term debt. An insufficient immigration policy can limit educational opportunities. Threats to voting rights limit the ability of individuals and communities to advocate for policies that could alleviate the challenges they face. Each individual plague has the capacity to devastate, and the combination can paralyze.
There are a variety of perspectives on how to address these plagues. We divide ourselves by political affiliation, sure that our policy and perspective is the best way forward. And yet, year after year, there are poor people to invite into our seders. Year after year, we create a set of contemporary plagues to read at our seders, because the society we’ve constructed is imperfect. We continue to dream of a redeemed and just world, and wonder how to get there.
This Passover, as always, we retell the story of our exodus from slavery to freedom. We remember the Egyptians by spilling a drop of wine for each plague that afflicted them, sacrificing some of the sweetness of the wine to honor the humanity of our enemy. This action reminds us that we were all made in God’s image. It compels us to connect even with those whom we consider our foes.
We live in a polarized society and often find ourselves believing the worst about one another. We have different ideas about how a just society looks and how it requires us each to behave. Our sages teach us that we cannot live without a chevruta, someone who challenges our “facts” and demands that we reconsider our opinions. Though we may disagree about how to get there, we must remember that our ultimate goal is to alleviate the intersecting oppressions that foster a system in which many don’t have the resources to meet their needs or a path through which they can attain them.
Discuss: Can you share a time in which someone (maybe even someone at your seder) inspired you to reconsider and expand your ideas about how to alleviate poverty? What contributed to your ability to think differently (and hopefully even act)?
Having considered this contemporary list of intersecting plagues and oppressions, how might the Jewish community contribute to creating a more just world for all people?
A Kavanah/Intention: May we always assume goodwill as we work to pursue justice and may our assumption of goodwill inspire it in others, so that together we bring about more civil discourse among pursuers of justice.
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay is AVODAH’s Director of Alumni and Community Engagement
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