Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The Religious Action Center is the political and legislative outreach arm of Reform Judaism in the United States. The Religious Action Center is operated under the auspices of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, a joint body of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism, it was founded in 1961. Consistent with the political and social concerns of Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center played a key role in important political events of the American civil rights movement, the struggles of Soviet Jewry, as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur, it hosted several meetings at which the groundwork for the various pieces of legislation, including the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts, were laid. It shielded civil rights marchers who were attacked by District of Columbia police. Aside from its community organizing and direct advocacy work, the Religious Action Center has been a hub of social justice programming for the Reform Jewish community.
The L'Taken seminar series has given thousands of young Jews the opportunity to visit Washington, D. C. and learn about Jewish values. The Religious Action Center hosted a Passover seder for the Dalai Lama in the late 1990s. Rabbi David Saperstein served at Religious Action Center from 1974 to 2015, as director and chief legal counsel. In that role he was recognized by Newsweek Magazine in 2009 as "the most influential rabbi in the country". On July 28, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Saperstein to be the first non-Christian to hold the post of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. In December 2014, Saperstein's appointment to the post won U. S. Senate confirmation. In January 2015, Saperstein was succeeded at Religious Action Center by Rabbi Jonah Pesner. Pesner grew up in New York, served as a congregational rabbi in Boston, he created "Just Congregations" in 2006, a program that teaches congregations to join in interfaith advocacy for social justice issues.
Pesner will continue to serve as Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, a post he has held since 2011. The Washington Post described the director position at Religious Action Center as being "the closest thing to being American Jews' lobbyist on non-Israel issues." Those issues have included health care, prison reform, marriage equality and reproductive freedom, while Pesner expects to increase the organization's focus on racial and economic disparities. Because Religious Action Center's priorities most approximate those of the Democratic Party, Religious Action Center has, at times, struggled in an polarized Congress. Saperstein's close alignment with the Democratic Party at times earned him suspicion of the Republican Party, while Pesner will represent a Jewish community at a time when Gallup polls show Jewish loyalty to the Democratic Party has dropped from 71% in 2008 to 61% in 2014. Official website Guide to Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism Soviet Jewry Collection at the American Jewish Historical Society, New York
Hatzalah is a volunteer emergency medical service organization serving Jewish communities around the world. Most local branches use the common name; the Hebrew spelling of the name is always the same, but there are many variations in transliteration, such as Hatzolah and Hatzola. It is often called Chevra Hatzalah, which loosely translates as "Company of Rescuers" or "Group of Rescuers." The original Hatzalah EMS was founded in Williamsburg, New York, USA by Rabbi Hershel Weber in the late 1960s, to improve rapid emergency medical response in the community, to mitigate cultural concerns of a Yiddish-speaking, religious Hasidic community. The idea spread to other Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the New York City area, to other regions and continents. Hatzalah is believed to be the largest volunteer ambulance service in the world. Chevra Hatzalah in New York has more than a thousand volunteer EMTs and paramedics who answer more than 70,000 calls each year with private vehicles and a fleet of more than 90 ambulances.
Hatzalah organizations now function in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Israel, Panama, South Africa, United Kingdom, in 10 states in the US: California, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Michigan. Hatzalah branches are being organized in other states as well. In Israel, there are two Hatzalah organizations operating on the national level, Ichud Hatzalah, Hebrew for, "United Hatzalah", Tzevet Hatzalah. While United Hatzalah is unarguably the larger of the two organizations, their volunteers are limited to direct response on scene care, versus Tzevet Hatzalah volunteers which are additionally licensed and authorized to provide emergency transport utilizing Magen David Adom ambulances. Hatzalah uses a fly-car system; the dispatcher requests any units for a particular emergency location. Members who think they will have best response times respond via handheld radios, the dispatcher confirms the appropriate members. Two members will respond directly to the call in their private vehicles. A third member retrieves an ambulance from a base location.
Each directly dispatched Hatzolah volunteer has a full medical technician "jump kit," in their car, with oxygen and appropriate pharmaceutical supplies. Paramedic members carry more extensive equipment and supplies, including EKG, IV, injection and more pharmaceuticals; each volunteer is called a unit, is assigned a unit number that starts with a neighborhood code, followed by a serial number for that neighborhood. Ambulances have unit numbers in the same format, with the first few numbers for each neighborhood reserved for the ambulance numbers; some neighborhoods have begun to assign 3-digit unit numbers to their ambulances, using numbers out of the range assigned to human member units. In some areas there may be periods where coverage is not strong enough, for example on a summer weekend; when this happens, coordinators may assign an on-call rotation. The rotation may still respond from their houses, or they may stay at the garage through their shift. In such periods, Hatzalah functions closer to a typical EMS crew setup, though the dispatchers may still seek non-on-call members to respond, there will still be a non-ambulance responder as first dispatched if that responder starts from the base.
In Israel, United Hatzalah relies upon mobile phone technologies which include an SOS app and a special emergency phone number, 1221, with messages to news organizations distributed by WhatsApp. Hatzalah's model provides for speedy first responder response times; each Hatzalah neighborhood's response time varies. For example, in Borough Park, Brooklyn daytime response in life threatening emergency are between 1–2 minutes and nighttime response times are 5–6 minutes. In the Beverly-La Brea neighborhood of Los Angeles response times average at sixty to ninety seconds. Hatzalah is not a single organization; each chapter operates autonomously, or in some cases, with varying levels of affiliation with neighboring Hatzalah chapters. In New York City's Hatzalah, there is a simple operational hierarchy. There are two or three members who are "coordinators," managing all operations aspects of the chapter; as Orthodox Jews, many volunteers see each other daily during prayers, on Shabbat. This allows them to remain organized despite the lack of an extensive formal hierarchy.
The coordinators are responsible for recruitment, interaction with municipal agency operations, first-line discipline, day-to-day operations. The coordinators are responsible, directly or via delegation, for arranging maintenance crews, who are called service members or service units, for purchasing supplies and other equipment. There is an administrative function separate from the coordinator function; the chief administrator is called a director or executive director, this is sometimes a paid position. All other positions in Hatzalah, including coordinators, are held by unpaid volunteers. Most of the New York State branches have some centralized administration and dispatch functions, known as "Central Hatzalah," or "Central." The neighborhood organizations under Central are independent. Most Hatzalah organizations pattern themselves after the Central models. Formally, th
Nefesh B'Nefesh, or Jewish Souls United, is a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates Aliyah from the United States and the United Kingdom. The organization aims to remove or minimize the financial, professional and social obstacles that potential Olim face. Nefesh B'Nefesh works in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Government of Israel and major Jewish organizations across various denominations and assists people of all ages in the Pre and Post-Aliyah process, offering resources such as financial aid, employment guidance and networking, assistance navigating the Israeli system, social guidance and counseling. Since 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh has brought over 50,000 Olim to Israel. In 2011, Nefesh B'Nefesh co-founder Yehoshua Fass received Moskowitz Prize for Zionism on behalf of the organization. Nefesh B'Nefesh was conceived by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass after a family member was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel on 28 March 2001. Realizing that there were many people who wanted to immigrate to Israel but were concerned about certain obstacles, Rabbi Fass and Florida businessman and philanthropist Tony Gelbart decided to create an organization which would try to make it easier for American Jews to make Aliyah.
In the summer of 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh organized its first chartered Aliyah flight. In November 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorized government funding for Nefesh B'Nefesh on a trial basis. In May 2006, in response to numerous requests from British Jews interested in Aliyah, services were expanded to include the UK. In December 2006, Nefesh B'Nefesh brought its 10,000th Oleh. In January 2008, Nefesh B'Nefesh, in conjunction with Legacy Heritage Fund, announced provision of significant fellowship grants for physicians making Aliyah in order to help counteract a projected shortage of physicians in Israel. In March 2008, with the help of Nefesh B'Nefesh, a Knesset "Lobby for the Encouragement for Aliya from the West" was established; the lobby aims to raise awareness of the unique needs of western Olim and further remove obstacles that they may face during the initial stages of their acclimation. In August 2008, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Nefesh B'Nefesh created a "one-stop shop" designed to streamline the Aliyah process and make it easier for Olim.
Under the new "collaborative venture" Nefesh B'Nefesh is the primary source responsible for marketing and promoting the concept of Aliyah to Jews in North America. The Jewish Agency is responsible for the Aliyah eligibility process with the appropriate authorities in Israel. In September 2008, the Israeli government recognized Nefesh B'Nefesh in a decision designed to enhance Aliyah from Western countries. In December 2008, Nefesh B'Nefesh, in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, with the support of the Russell Berrie Foundation, launched the "Go North" initiative; the initiative presents prospective immigrants with an unprecedented benefits package to help new Olim move to Northern Israel. In 2009, oil tycoon Guma Aguiar donated $8 million to the organization. In September 2009, Erez Halfon became Vice Chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh. Prior to joining the organization, he served as Director General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption from 2006 to 2008. In February 2010, the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee agreed to intensify their partnerships with Nefesh B'Nefesh.
In September 2013, Nefesh B'Nefesh's Bonei Zion Prize was established, "in order to formally recognize the achievements of outstanding Anglo Olim and their contribution to the State of Israel." A prize is awarded in each of the following categories: Community & non-profit, Israel advocacy, science & medicine, young leadership, culture, art & sports. Nefesh B'Nefesh provides assistance with Israeli bureaucratic procedures and helps Olim overcome cultural gaps; the Government Advocacy Department works with governmental and institutional bodies, such as the Ministries of Interior and Immigrant Absorption. The department provides information for Olim, such as guides for dealing with government offices and agencies, information regarding benefits. Nefesh B'Nefesh provides financial aid to eligible Aliyah candidates in order to help defray some of the relocation costs. Nefesh B'Nefesh maintains regular contact after arrival in Israel; the organization has an in-house call center and conducts ongoing seminars and workshops, helps families identify suitable communities, assists students in finding appropriate educational tracks.
It provides a supportive network for singles and retirees. Social Services staff help to address the personal concerns of each Oleh prior to Aliyah and for some time afterwards. Nefesh B'Nefesh assists Olim in searching for jobs, it provides pre- and post- Aliyah employment counseling sessions and matches Olim with professionals in their field, assists in tailoring resumes to the Israeli market, provides information about job retraining, offers guidance in starting businesses. In addition, the Employment Department lobbies on behalf of various professions which require official licensing. Nefesh B'Nefesh runs several special programs such as Soldier Aliyah Fund and Physician Aliyah Program. Nefesh B'Nefesh provides chartered and group Aliyah flights with El Al Airlines, Israel's official airline; the Nefesh B'Nefesh website includes an online application for Nefesh B'Nefesh assistance and Jewish Agency for Israel approval. It includes the Aliyahpedia, a collection of articles about Aliyah, helping readers learn about Israeli communities, employment, financial planning and Aliyah rights.
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Israel the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west and Egypt to the southwest; the country contains geographically diverse features within its small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition. Israel has evidence of the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically attested since the Middle Bronze Age, while the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged during the Iron Age; the Neo-Assyrian Empire destroyed Israel around 720 BCE. Judah was conquered by the Babylonian and Hellenistic empires and had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces.
The successful Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE however became a client state of the Roman Republic that subsequently installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE, in 6 CE created the Roman province of Judea. Judea lasted as a Roman province until the failed Jewish revolts resulted in widespread destruction, expulsion of Jewish population and the renaming of the region from Iudaea to Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region has persisted to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was taken from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and remained in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187; the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman Syria and British Mandate Palestine.
In 1947, the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, rejected by Arab leaders; the following year, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the State of Israel, the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War saw Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states. Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, since the Six-Day War in 1967 held occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip, it extended its laws to the Golan East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have been signed.
In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a democratic state. The country has a liberal democracy, with a parliamentary system, proportional representation, universal suffrage; the prime minister is head of government and the Knesset is the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member, with the 32nd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2017; the country benefits from a skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Furthermore, Israel ranked 11th in the UN's 2018 World Happiness Report. Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name "State of Israel" after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel and Judea, were considered but rejected.
In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett. The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish people respectively; the name "Israel" in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus"; the earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt. The area is known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith.
Under British Mandate, the whole region was known as Palestine (Hebre
Taglit-Birthright Israel known as Birthright Israel or Birthright, is a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors free ten-day heritage trips to Israel for young adults of Jewish heritage, aged 18–32. Taglit is the Hebrew word for discovery. During their trip, most of whom are visiting Israel for the first time, are encouraged to discover new meaning in their personal Jewish identity and connection to Jewish history and culture. Since trips began in the winter of 1999, more than 600,000 young people from 67 countries have participated in the program. About 80% of participants are from the United States and Canada; the number of participants has not grown beyond 40,000 a year due to budgetary constraints. The Birthright Israel program was initiated in 1994 and founded in cooperation with Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, as well as the Israeli government, private donors, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish communities around the world. Tours are held in the winter and summer, for which demand is high.
Registration is conducted online and each round there are thousands more applicants than spaces available. In 2007, annual capacity was increased to 20,000 participants a year; that year, Sheldon Adelson pledged $25 million to Birthright Israel to take applicants off waiting lists and to increase annual capacity from 25,000 to 37,000 in 2007 and 2008. The Adelson Family Foundation has contributed many millions of US dollars annually to Birthright Israel since 2007. In 2011, he pledged an additional $5 million toward the effort. In 2013, Adelson doubled his past annual commitment to Birthright Israel, announcing a $20 million challenge grant that will match new and increased gifts or pledges through 2015; this raises Adelson's total support of the program to over $250 million as of February 2015. In 2010, Birthright launched. Birthright Excel is a 10-week summer program where students can either create a venture or intern with a business. Eligible individuals are those who have at least one parent of recognized Jewish descent, or who have converted to Judaism through a recognized Jewish movement, who do not practice another religion.
They must be between the ages 18 to 32, post-high-school, have neither traveled to Israel before on a peer educational trip or study program past the age of 18 nor have lived in Israel past the age of 12. A Taglit-Birthright Israel trip includes airfare from major cities, most meals, all transportation within Israel, costs associated with touring the country for the ten-day trip. A US$250 deposit is required, refunded upon return from the trip. Airfare or transportation from a participant's home to the gateway city is not included, although the trips depart from multiple cities. Trips are organized by different organizations and companies accredited by Taglit-Birthright Israel, which sets the logistical and security standards. All groups are led by licensed Israeli tour guides, all groups are accompanied by an armed security guard, include visits to the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, as well as other sites determined by Taglit-Birthright Israel. Tours may vary according to the religious background of the participants.
Trips may be geared for graduate students, undergraduates at a particular university, participants from a particular city, participants who identify with a particular stream of Judaism, tours for hiking or music enthusiasts, a diverse array of other interests, such Birthright's 12-day internship experience with Israel Tech Challenge. El Al, Israel's largest airline company, is the major operator of the trips' flights. Registration is conducted twice a year, in the winter and summer, during each round there are thousands more applicants than spaces available. Trips are conducted throughout most of the year. A Taglit-Birthright Israel trip includes airfare from major cities, hotel accommodation, two meals per day, all transportation within Israel, other costs associated with touring the country during the ten-day trip. Tours travel throughout the country to religious and cultural sites, including in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Dead Sea. Trips often include a Mega Event, which unites thousands of participants from around the world together with Israelis for a celebration featuring speeches by dignitaries and musical performances.
A major feature of the tours is a 5- to 10-day mifgash with Israeli peers soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces, who join the tour. The stated purpose for the mifgash is for the participants and the soldiers to get to know each other and to better understand each other's world view and Jewish identity. Guided discussion sessions explore topics such as the Jewish tradition in the modern world, how Jewish life in Israel differs from Jewish life abroad, how mandatory military service impacts young Israelis' perceptions of service and commitment to their country. More than 65,000 Israelis have participated in the program since 2000. Participants have the option to extend their plane ticket for up to three months to explore Israel and the region; the optional extension is not part of the Birthright trip, the participant is in that time like any tourist. Security policies in place during the trip "ensure a comprehensive safety umbrella": No travel to the West Bank, Gaza, or East Jerusalem other than the Jewish Quarter of the Old City Participants in each group remain together at all times and follow a set schedule of activities Participants do not leave the groups to travel, explore or visit with Israelis on their own during the ten-day trip Public transportation is not allowed at any time At least one trained, armed escort accompanies each group throughou
National Jewish Democratic Council
The National Jewish Democratic Council was a political lobbying organization that advocated within the Democratic Party for viewpoints aligned with the American Jewish community and in support of the state of Israel, within the political process between 1990 and about 2016. The NJDC's main issues were the U. S.-Israel relationship, separation of church and state, reproductive rights. The NJDC engaged in voter education efforts, worked with secular and Jewish media to promote the Democratic Party and its ideals; the organization served as a resource to Democratic candidates nationally, educating them on issues of importance to the Jewish community. The NJDC served as a liberal watchdog on the lawful activities of the religious portion of the Right, acting to raise public awareness about efforts to undermine the wall between church and state. In 2007, its Annual Washington Conference attracted every major Democratic candidate for president, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, several party leaders, including Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
NJDC worked on the national level to help turn out Jewish voters in the 2004 elections, 2008 elections, 2012 elections. NJDC worked to send voter guides and direct mail to targeted Jewish households. In 2004, NJDC targeted 250,000 Jewish households in swing states with an intensive direct mail campaign. Accumulating debts, a declining number of donors, outsourcing of functions, a defamation lawsuit filed by Republican donor Sheldon Adelson against the NJDC led to the organization's decline between about 2014 and 2016, it disappeared from the political scene prior to the 2016 presidential election, in legal pleadings, stated that it continued to exist only to pay its bills and because of the continuing litigation against Adelson. Some of its leadership campaigned for the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign under the Jews for Progress PAC banner; the group was replaced on a de facto basis in 2017 by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which began its activities three months ahead of schedule because of President Donald Trump’s perceived equivocal response to the 2017 Charlottesville march and violence.
The National Jewish Democratic Council was founded in 1990 as the national voice of Jewish Democrats. Its stated priorities included: Educating Jewish voters about the differences between their Democratic and Republican candidates for elected office through special reports and voter guides. Informing candidates for public office about the need to address and support issues of concern to the Jewish community. Advocating on behalf of Jewish and Democratic ideals on Capitol Hill and in Jewish and national media. Fighting the radical right agenda at every turn through research and reports, grass-roots advocacy, working directly with lawmakers in Washington, educating journalists. Engaging and cultivating a new generation of young Jewish Democratic leaders by replicating the Washington-based Young Leadership program in other major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and South Florida. Expanding Jewish awareness of critical legislative activity through quarterly and bi-weekly publications, as well as Breakfast Roundtables and Domestic Issues Forums featuring Congressional and executive branch leaders.
Senator Ben Cardin, Honorary Chair Senator Ron Wyden, Honorary Chair Stephen Bittel, Vice-Chair, Miami, FL Steve Rabinowitz, Vice-Chair, Washington, D. C. Marc Winkelman, Vice Chair, Austin, TX Sheldon Cohen, Washington, D. C. Sunita Leeds, Washington, D. C. In October 2008, the NJDC held a conference in Washington, D. C. at which Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden was the keynote speaker. Other notable speakers included Governor Howard Dean, it was noted that "In 2008, the NJDC trained nearly 100 surrogates to speak around country, according to Forman, ran newspaper ad campaigns in pivotal swing states, sent 350,000 targeted pieces of mail to Jewish households, dropped 35,000 pieces of literature in key Jewish neighborhoods, ran Internet and Google word search campaigns". In an article written on November 9, 2008, it was mentioned that "American Jewish voters have once again overwhelmingly supported the Democratic presidential nominee", that "with Obama's victory, we selected a candidate who shares the values of the vast majority of American Jews, including the separation of church and state, a strong U.
S.-Israel relationship, reproductive freedom". During the final days of the 2008 presidential campaign, an article came out explaining that the "National Jewish Democratic Council is sending out more than 350,000 mailers to Jewish households in key swing states, re-asserting the Democratic nominees stance on a number of issues"; this article includes many fliers put out by the NJDC in order to inform voters about Barack Obama and Joe Biden's positions on Israel. Marc Stanley, chairman of the NJDC, wrote an op-ed in the JTA entitled "Why Jews Voted for Obama". In the article, he gave two explanations: "First, Obama’s performance in the debates belied the GOP narrative that he could not be trusted, while McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate undermined his Jewish support. Second, Jewish Democrats - the National Jewish Democratic Council, along with the Obama campaign and other independent efforts - were better organized than ever." In 2008, exit polls showed. The NJDC approved of the Obama administration's policies such as the 2009 stimulus package, the president's decision to pull out of Durban II, the UN conference against racism, known to be a forum for anti-Israel agitation