2011 Happy New Year Resolutions Edition

JSPAN Newsletter - December 31, 2010

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue: 2011 Happy New Year Resolutions Edition
Newsletter: December 31, 2010
Top Resolution: Support JSPAN
We can all be proud of the battles we waged this year to advance human rights and dignity. But we face a growing storm of efforts at retrenchment, repeal, and return to the old days and ways. In 2011 our commitment to justice will be tested at every turn and that's why JSPAN needs your support.
  • Support an existing project or help JSPAN to launch a major new initiative.
  • Send your year end contribution to JSPAN electronically. Contributions to JSPAN are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


Equal Justice - Following the Dream

You can also register by sending an email to jspan@jspan.org



JSPAN Urges President Obama to address judicial vacancies
A large number of federal judgeships are vacant. Many presidential appointments are awaiting Senate confirmation; and no candidates have been named by the White House for many other vacancies. JSPAN Chairman Jeffrey Pasek sent the following letter to the White House urging action. – Ed.

When the 111th Congress recessed last week, there were 93 vacancies on the federal bench. Our courts are operating with less than 90 percent of their authorized judicial resources. Important cases are not being decided promptly because of the lack of judicial manpower. This is a national crisis that demands urgent attention.

We know that the judicial confirmation process is badly flawed and that 24 of your nominees never received Senate confirmation votes in the last Congress. Clearly a bi-partisan solution is required to speed the confirmation process and to eliminate allowing senators to place anonymous holds on nominees. But this alone is not sufficient.

Even if the Senate had confirmed all of your nominees, there would still be 69 judicial vacancies for which you have not nominated anyone. Many of these vacancies have existed for a long time. Respectfully, you cannot complaint about Republican recalcitrance when your failure to nominate anyone is responsible for two-thirds of all the federal judicial vacancies that exist.

It is time for you to act on this important issue by nominating candidates for all judicial vacancies promptly in the new Congress and by using your bully pulpit to get up or down votes on every nominee. The cause of justice demands action. Sincerely,

Jeffrey I. Pasek
Board Chair


JSPAN opposes proposed settlement of the Boy Scout eviction case
Boy Scouts of America national policy excludes gays from all levels of scouting. In response, the City of Philadelphia tried to evict the Boy Scouts from their building on City property on the Parkway. JSPAN and the ACLU supported the City effort. But a jury verdict in favor of the Scouts has raised the possibility that the City may have to pay the Scouts' substantial legal fees and costs. A settlement put together by the Scouts and City, if approved by City Council, includes a transfer of the property to the Scouts. JSPAN has joined other organizations in opposition to this settlement. Excerpts from the joint letter to City Council follow. - Ed.

To City Council and the Mayor

Philadelphia is a city that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age and mental or physical disability. This commitment to equality and fairness is at the core of what makes Philadelphia the nation’s Cradle of Liberty.

We believe all Philadelphians have equal rights, which are guaranteed under the Fair Practices Act, and should not face discrimination. That is why we urge you and Mayor Nutter to defend the rights of gay youth, as you do all other Philadelphians.

The recent proposal to sell City-owned property to the Boy Scouts, at a big discount, to facilitate discrimination is contrary to the values and beliefs we hold most dear as a community. As history has shown, when we permit discrimination against some of us, we tear apart the fabric that makes us one. …

JSPAN has been a strong supporter of the legislative movement to repeal “don't ask don't tell” from American law. We join in the views expressed by our friend Mark Pelavin of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, celebrating the success of this effort. – Ed.


Reform Movement leader hails historic vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
JSPAN has been a strong supporter of the legislative movement to repeal “don't ask don't tell” from American law. We join in the views expressed by our friend Mark Pelavin of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, celebrating the success of this effort. – Ed.

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, December 19, 2010

Yesterday's Senate vote ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was long overdue: After 17 years of misguided and discriminatory policy, gay and lesbian members of the armed forces will soon be able to serve their country without hiding a key part of their identity. We hail yesterday's vote, and those members of the House and Senate who were determined to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year, even when the likelihood of such action seemed slim. The strong support for repeal reflects the great strides our nation has made since the policy's inception in 1993 and demonstrates the now-widespread understanding that every individual, gay and straight, is created in God's image and deserving of dignity and respect.


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Immigrants lament Dream Act’s defeat
On the same day, a failure: the DREAM Act, supported by JSPAN, sought to provide a path to citizenship for children brought to the United States who attend college or serve in our military. The Senate could not achieve cloture to shut off a filibuster, with five Democrats joining Republicans opposed to the Bill while three Republicans joined Democrats in favor of it. – Ed.

Passage would have offered many a path to citizenship
Boston Globe - December 20, 2010

When the Senate finished voting Saturday, Renata Teodoro found the tears flowing too freely for her to stay in the US Senate gallery, where decorum frowns on displays of emotion.

“It was extremely intense,’’ Teodoro said of the 55-41 vote that killed the Dream Act. The measure would have allowed immigrants like Teodoro, who was brought to the United States from Brazil by her parents when she was 6 years old, to slowly work toward citizenship under rules that advocates call rigorous. “Your whole life is being voted on,’’ she said of the Saturday proceedings.


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Judges must increase confidence of public
Lack of trust can undermine courts' foundations.
Op-ed by Lynn Marks and Shira Goodman, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 28, 2010

There is a troubling disconnect between the courts and the public. The recent media reports about rules governing judicial ethics, policies on gifts to judges, and benefits such as car leases for appellate judges demonstrate this clearly. Both judges and members of the public are frustrated that those on the other side of the bench don't seem to understand the key points. As this disconnect persists, collaboration between those who use the courts and those who work in the courts becomes more elusive. …

[J]udges may honestly state that a casual dinner or round of golf paid for by a lawyer who regularly appears in court will have no effect on judicial decision-making and can't comprehend why the public would argue that such gifts should be prohibited. These are the kinds of things that lead the public to moan that judges "don't get it."

Clearly, there is a disconnect. Perhaps the public perception and the judicial reality are very different. Even if the public's concern about judicial bias is over-blown, judges know that the true power of the courts is rooted in the public's perception and public confidence in fair and impartial justice. When that confidence is undermined - whether for good reason or not - the foundation of our justice system is shaken. Judges cannot allow that to happen. They should take responsibility for understanding public perception and working to maintain and increase public confidence.

Marks and Goodman are the Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director of the non-profit agency, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. JSPAN supports the program of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts to improve the independence of our judiciary by substituting merit selection for the present system requiring candidates to run for election. – Ed.


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Sell drugs or go jobless
The Inquirer Editorial, Dec. 14, 2010

Many government officials are finally admitting the war on drugs is a costly failure. That lesson is on display daily in this city.

Drug dealers, who can earn up to $2 million per year, are hauled off to jail by police routinely. Usually, though, they're back on the street within hours. If not, rivals replace them. They work in a landscape of closed factories and crumbling housing stock neglected by absentee landlords.

There aren't enough jobs, especially in this weak economy. Even if well-paying jobs were available, the lucrative drug trade is too tempting for many to resist.


[read more]


Seattle buses to carry ‘Israeli war crimes’ ads
JTA - December 20, 2010

Buses in downtown Seattle will carry advertisements about "Israeli war crimes" to mark the second year since the Gaza war.

The Seattle Midwest Awareness Campaign has paid $1,794 to place the advertisements on 12 buses beginning Dec. 27, the day Israel entered Gaza to stop rocket attacks on its southern communities, according to Seattle's King 5 News.

The ads feature a group of children looking at a demolished building under the heading "Israeli War Crimes: Your tax dollars at work."


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Herzl and the Municipal Rabbis
Comment from Ha'aretz, December 23, 2010, By Alexander Yakobson

“When did rabbis suddenly receive official positions?" [Herzl] would have asked bitterly. "After all, I explicitly wrote, after emphasizing my respect for religion and tradition, that we must prevent any effort by religious functionaries to participate in the running of the state. The rabbis should be kept in the synagogues, just as the army should be kept in the barracks."

It seems that Herzl's position on this matter was more radical than what is acceptable today in many liberal countries. In Great Britain, the government still appoints bishops to the Anglican Church. Some of these bishops represent the church in the House of Lords and Parliament was called upon to grant women the right to serve in this position. In Denmark and Norway, the king appoints the hierarchy of the Lutheran Church, to which the monarch also must belong.


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JSPAN Seeks Successor to Executive Director
Expressing sincere thanks to Lynn Gottlieb for her service as Executive Director since 2009, JSPAN Chairman Jeff Pasek wrote: “Lynn's work encompassed all aspects of our program, from helping us define issues, to getting the new web site on line, from staffing an honoree event to the mundane drudgery of handling routine clerical duties. As a one-person staff, Lynn had to do it all -- not without volunteer assistance from time to time -- but as the person responsible to be sure things were done and done well.”

Of particular note is Lynn’s service taking us through two successful annual programs presenting the organization’s Social Justice Award. This very important event extends recognition to a worthy citizen, and additionally is the sole fund raising event of the organization’s year. Starting this week, JSPAN is advertising the position of Director.

Applicants for the position should expect to take responsibility to lead and grow the organization, while also managing day-to-day operations including the JSPAN web site. The Director should be able to identify current social policy issues and equipped to work with Board and Policy Center members on education and developing and implementing action plans. Helpful qualifications include experience working with volunteers, strong communications skills, and an understanding of community organizing. JSPAN provides medical insurance, paid vacation, early closing for Shabbat and observance of major holidays. Resumes may be submitted in confidence to jobs@jspan.org.


Support JSPAN

Remember that JSPAN welcomes your donations to help us continue our important and effective work in Tikkun Olam. You may send gifts via PayPal on www.jspan.org. or to JSPAN, 1735 Market Street, Suite #A417, Philadelphia, PA 19103




Want to Join?
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Make all checks payable to:
1735 Market Street, Suite #A417
Philadelphia, PA 19103


JSPAN Officers
Brian Gralnick

Kenneth Fox
Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

Stephen Applebaum

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair


Jeffrey Pasek, Chair
Alex Urevick
Sheila Ballen
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David S. Broida
Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Sarita Gocial
Paula Green
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
Lazar Kleit
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
Theodore Mann
Mark Newman
Maureen Pelta
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
Randy Schulz
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Rabbi David Straus
Mike Weilbacher
Deborah Weinstein
Lynn Zeitlin
Jill Katz Zipin

Executive Director:
Lynn Gottlieb, Esq.

Kenneth Myers

Ira Goldberg




The newsletter contains articles and links to articles that we think will be of interest to JSPAN members. They are included for informational purposes, but unless otherwise stated, they do not necessarily reflect official JSPAN policy.

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