April 2015


JSPAN Newsletter - April 2015

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: April 2015
JSPAN Elects New President, Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has elected Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom as its new President, effective May 1, 2015. Rabbi Rosenbloom, who will succeed Deborah Weinstein, Esquire, is the Distinguished Service Rabbi of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, PA, an honorific title accorded to him upon his retirement on June 30, 2014, after 36 years as the congregation's spiritual leader. Rabbi Rosenbloom comes to leadership of JSPAN naturally, having greatly increased his activity in the broader community in recent years. He was appointed to the Human Relations Commission of Cheltenham Township in 2012. He helped convene and remains active with the Old York Road Community Organization, a consortium of seven synagogues that have joined together to improve the community and prepare for its future. He was honored by the Cheltenham NAACP at its annual dinner in 2011, receiving an award for religious leadership. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Cheltenham Academics, sponsored by Adath Jeshurun, the Cheltenham NAACP, and Arcadia University, and he also organizes tutors for students at Cedarbrook Middle School.


[read more]



Presentation Postponed: "The Partisan Divide" Authors' Discussion Rescheduled for Fall 2015
Please change your calendars. JSPAN previously announced a presentation on May 3 by former congressional leaders Republican Martin Frost and Democrat Tom Davis, discussing their new book, "The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis." Stay tuned for the announcement of a new date in fall 2015.


Action Alert: Encourage Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, members of Congress recently reintroduced a bipartisan bill to strengthen and restore the Act's core protections which the U.S. Supreme Court dismantled in its 2013 opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. Discrimination in voting still exists. What remains of the Voting Rights Act is not enough to prevent discrimination.

The VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENT ACT OF 2015 (VRRA) would, among other changes: (1) require jurisdictions with a recent record of repeated Voting Rights Act violations to pre-clear election law changes, (2) expand current "bail-in" procedures allowing courts to subject jurisdictions to pre-clearance, (3) create uniform requirements to inform voters of certain pending voting changes, (4) enhance the ability of lawyers to halt discriminatory election measures before they can harm citizens, and (5) allow federal observers to monitor elections to ensure compliance with laws protecting the rights of Americans who speak limited English.

JSPAN is working with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and other progressive groups to encourage Congress to pass VRAA. To learn more about this effort and sign a petition to tell Congress to restore voting right today,

[read more]


Diverse Coalition Urges Congress to Pass the Democracy Restoration Act
JSPAN's Board of Directors recently endorsed the Democracy Restoration Act of 2015, which restores voting rights to ex-felons in federal elections nationwide. Although ex-felons in Pennsylvania may vote in state elections, voting rights for ex-felons are restricted in many other state elections, and New Jersey and Delaware do not allow those on parole or probation to vote. To ensure that all Americans living in their communities have the opportunity to participate in our electoral process, we urge you to support passage of this Act. -Ed.

Brennan Center for Justice
Press Release
March 19, 2015

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) today introduced the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to nearly 4.4 million American citizens with past criminal convictions upon release from incarceration.

The Democracy Restoration Act has garnered broad support from a diverse coalition that includes law enforcement associations, the faith community, racial justice advocates, and civil rights organizations. Versions of the bill were introduced in past sessions of Congress.

Rights restoration continues to gain bipartisan support. Last month, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a more limited bill that would restore voting rights for those who have committed non-violent offenses. Momentum is also building in the states, with bills moving in Maryland, Minnesota, and Kentucky - some with bipartisan support. Currently, 35 states disfranchise people after they are released from prison.


[read more]


Enjoying the Low Life?
Don't miss Nicholas Kristof's recent article (below) highlighting how America falls drastically short in comparison with other countries when it comes to insuring a high quality of life for ordinary citizens. Consistent with JSPAN's mission is to advance equality and opportunity for all in our pluralistic democracy, we have made income inequity a central theme for our advocacy efforts. See JSPAN's fair wage statement. -Ed.

The New York Times
By Nicholas Kristof
April 9, 2015

The United States is the most powerful colossus in the history of the world: Our nuclear warheads could wipe out the globe, our enemies tweet on iPhones, and kids worldwide bop to Beyonce.

Yet let's get real. All this hasn't benefited all Americans. A newly released global index finds that America falls short, along with other powerful countries, on what matters most: assuring a high quality of life for ordinary citizens.

The Social Progress Index for 2015 ranks the United States 16th in the world. We may thump our chests and boast that we're No. 1, and in some ways we are. But, in important ways, we lag.

The index ranks the United States 30th in life expectancy, 38th in saving children's lives, and a humiliating 55th in women surviving childbirth. O.K., we know that we have a high homicide rate, but we're at risk in other ways as well. We have higher traffic fatality rates than 37 other countries, and higher suicide rates than 80.


[read more]


Combatting Sex Trafficking---Local Jewish Organizations Invite You: "Once We Were Slaves"
JSPAN is one of many co-sponsors of this event with Women of Vision in the lead. Come if you are able! -Ed.



Philly Democrat Proposes Automatic PA Voter Registration
By Bill Hangley
March 17, 2015

Inspired by a civil rights anniversary and a new law in the Pacific Northwest, a Philadelphia Democrat is pushing to make voter registration automatic in Pennsylvania.

"We will no longer play defense," said state Sen. Vincent Hughes at a Tuesday news conference at the Constitution Center, where he announced a new bill to create a "universal, automatic" registration system. "We will no longer be in a position where we will allow folks to deny us the opportunity to vote. We are now engaging fully in securing the right to vote for every Pennsylvania citizen who legally can do it."

Hughes estimates about two million Pennsylvanians are eligible to vote but unregistered. The state is home to about 10 million voting-age residents. Under his proposal, anyone legally entitled to vote would be automatically registered when using certain state services,


[read more]

To learn more about Senate Bill 806, click here.



Jews in ALL Hues Town Hall Meeting Explores Intersection of Race and Judaism
By Lynn Zeitlin

On Wednesday evening, March 17, 2015, a good sized crowd of about 70 attended the first of three planned town hall meetings on the topic "The Intersection of Race and Judaism." These town halls are being convened by an organization called Jews in ALL Hues and supported by community partners JSPAN, Operation Understanding, Repair the World Philadelphia, and Shalom Center.

Jared Jackson, the Executive Director and Founder of Jews in ALL Hues, welcomed the audience with a tragic, personal story about the impact of non-acceptance of his own sister as a Jew and person of color that led him to do this work. He next introduced Allison Pokras, former Executive Director of Operation Understanding, the moderator for the panel discussion.

There were four panelists, who described themselves as follows: two as Jews by choice and of color; one as the mixed race child of a Jewish mother and a black father; and one as the daughter of a Chinese mother and an Israeli father. They candidly expressed their feelings about ways in which they felt accepted or not by the Jewish religious community and in social settings and offered paths for all to take to improve interaction in different situations and institutions. They each responded to questions about times they recalled happy and difficult experiences and described their personal experiences--both good and bad--as Jews that "don't fit the norm."

Following the panel, the audience broke up into small groups for personal interaction. While each breakout group was different, all engaged in animated and-based upon quick reporting-significant sharing.

JSPAN board members who attended were Rabbi Seth Goren, Edward Hoffman, and Lynn Zeitlin, plus Executive Director Rabbi George Stern.


JSPAN Leaders Attend Bend the Arc Training
By Rabbi George Stern

Long-time JSPAN Board member Bill Epstein, former Director of Communications for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 1776, and JSPAN Executive Director Rabbi George Stern were in Washington from March 8-10, 2015, for the first advocacy training sponsored by Bend the Arc (BTA) for its chapters and affiliates. As Bend the Arc's Philadelphia affiliate, JSPAN looks forward to working with BTA and local progressives to redouble advocacy for positive social change.

The emphasis of the training was on conducting effective outreach to individuals and community-based organizations in order to ramp up advocacy work, educating the community on social justice issues and gaining their support for social change. Much of the training was conducted by two staff members of JOIN for Justice (Jewish Organizing Institute and Network), whose mission is "to develop hundreds of top quality Jewish organizers in lay and professional positions inside and outside the Jewish community, transforming and strengthening individuals and institutions as they work for a more just, inclusive, and compassionate society."


[read more]


Church-State Separation Group To Host Conference In Philadelphia On 'Reclaiming Religious Freedom'
The Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (DVAU) will host a conference in Pennsylvania this spring on the state of religious liberty in America.

"Reclaiming Religious Freedom From the Radical Right" will be held at the Downtown Philadelphia Marriott on May 2 from noon to 6pm. DVAU will present five speakers including Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), an outspoken advocate for church-state separation. In addition to Sims, the conference will feature presentations from Sarah Jones, communications associate at Americans United's national office; Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality USA; Jason Stewart, an Americans United board member; and the Rev. Cynthia Cain of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore.

The DVAU 2015 "Reclaiming Religious Freedom from the Radical Right Conference" is free and open to the public. For more information, please email info@dvau.org, call Janice Rael at 856-881-1816, or visit http://dvau.org.


Action Alert: Show Your Support for Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Senators Mike Folmer and Daylin Leach have once again introduced legislation that would allow certain patients to treat their debilitating medical conditions with cannabis. SB 3 is modeled after last year's Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, also sponsored by Folmer and Leach, which passed the Senate in an overwhelming 43-7 vote. Pennsylvania is nearly surrounded by states where medical marijuana is legal, and polls consistently show that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support it. Newly-elected Governor Tom Wolf also favors legalizing medical cannabis and is ready to sign legislation that arrives at his desk.

To tell you legislators to support passage of Senate Bill 3, the Compassionate Marijuana Act,

[read more]



Join the Celebration of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice's 10th Year
Congratulations to Philadelphia Jewish Voice, an online Jewish publication celebrating its 10th year. PJ Voice will celebrate this milestone at an event on April 30 honoring Ronit Treatman, its immediate past president. Her leadership, tireless efforts, and insightful approach have been instrumental to the publication's growth and success. The event is hosted by Judi and Mark Aronchick at their home in Narbeth, PA. The featured presentation will be provided by Senator Daylon Leach. Learn more about the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and its upcoming celebration at


[read more]



Your Opinion Counts

The editors of the JSPAN newsletter welcome reader's comments regarding the content and format of the newsletter. We want to know what you like and dislike. Are we providing a perspective and service that you find informative and worth reading? Do you have comments on specific articles or items? Let us know what you think! Send all comments to newsletter@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 and donate using this direct line on www.jspan.org. or to JSPAN, 1735 Market Street, Suite #A417, Philadelphia, PA 19103




Want to Join?
To become a JSPAN member, please go to www.JSPAN.org. On the right side of your screen you will be able to start a secure transaction and become a member.


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


JSPAN Officers
Deborah Weinstein
Interim President

Richard Malkin
First Vice President

Burt Siegel
Vice President

Marc Stier
Vice President

Jill Katz Zipin
Vice President

Joanna Klein

George Pomerantz

Stewart Weintraub
General Counsel

Lynn Zeitlin
Past President

Rabbi George Stern
Executive Director

Irwin Aronson
Katie Beran
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
Ruth Damsker
William Epstein
Rabbi Seth Goren
Brian Gralnick
Edward Hoffman
Margot Horwitz
Adrienne Jacoby
Nathan Kleinman
Marlena Kleit
Judah Labovitz
Ruth Laibson
Jonathan Lipson
Theodore Mann
Jeffrey Pasek
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Bryan Schwartzman
Daniel Segal
Dan Siegel
Rabbi David Strauss
Ilene Wasserman


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.

As an organization for change, JSPAN strives to advance progressive social policies on the critical issues of our time. Help spread the news about us by forwarding this email and the link to our website http://www.jspan.org to your family, friends, and colleagues who might have an interest in joining JSPAN or serving on any of JSPAN's projects. If you haven't joined JSPAN, please join now!


Click to view this email in a browser

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
1735 Market Street
Suite A417
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Non-Profits Email Free with VerticalResponse!