Call To Action For Public Education

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: December 2, 2011
Nuremberg - Its Lesson for Today

CLE with Prof. Andrew Strauss, Widener University Law School,film screening and discussion with Restoration Producer Sandra Schulberg
Wednesday, December 7
5:30 pm at Gratz College

Film screening and discussion With Restoration ProducerSandra Schulberg
Wednesday, December 7
7:00 pm at Gratz College

Co-sponsored by Gratz College, JSPAN and Holocaust Memorial Museum

See the film: Hear Director Sandra Schulberg in person tell how the film was made, hidden, then rescued and restored. All are welcome.

Lawyers: Prof. Andrew Strauss will present the development of international criminal justice from Nuremberg to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Earn 3 hours of CLE Credit.

Educators: Pick up ideas for Holocaust education using this film and other materials that will be provided. Earn 2 Act 48 credits.

JSPAN, Gratz College and the Holocaust Council are co-sponsoring a showing of the film Nuremberg - Its Lesson for Today. Nazi Holocaust and war crimes are documented dramatically in this film, followed by key segments of the first Nuremberg trial of the leading Nazi perpetrators. Originally made by the U.S. Army to be shown for propaganda purposes in Germany, the film was suppressed by our government for 50 years. Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletsky retrieved and have now restored the film with an English sound track.

When: Wednesday, December 7, 2011; Public and Educators' Program starts at 7:00 pm, Lawyers' Program starting at 5:30 pm

Costs: Public admission $10, educators admission $18 (includes 2 Act 48 activity hours for Pennsylvania educators), lawyers admission $100 (includes 3 hours of Pennsylvania CLE credit and a box supper). Advance registration is required!

Register: on line at

More information: at or by phone at 215-635-7300 x154.


Social Justice Award Presented To LANGER, GROGAN & DIVER P.C.
On Monday, November 21, JSPAN presented its seventh annual Social Justice Award to the Philadelphia law firm of Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C. for the firm's deep and unflinching dedication to law in the public interest and their determination to foster the same kind of life-long commitment among future generations of legal practitioners. Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, addressed those attending, asking them to sign the Jewish Petition for a Just Farm Bill to eliminate the provision that requires a large majority of food aid to foreign countries to be acquired from American agribusinesses rather than from local growers in the countries where the aid is being provided. At the event, those attending were asked to sign the petition, and the signed petitions were presented to Ms. Messinger. To add you name to the petition, click here.

Thanks to all those who helped to make this a successful event and generously contributed in honor of the firm and in support of JSPAN.



Call To Action For Public Education
Education Voters, joined by several allies, is organizing our first statewide "Call" to Action for Public Education on Monday, December 5th. Thousands of people will set aside 5 minutes to call their local State Representatives and Senators, and our Governor with a short message about education being our highest priority as taxpayers and voters. Last year, the budget suffered about $900 million in cuts.
  • Class sizes are increasing in many communities.
  • Kindergarten, tutoring, arts, sports …. all being cut.
  • We keep reducing education to the point where someday soon, we could be teaching only subjects that will be on standardized tests.
  • We are raising taxes at the community level, putting more pressure on property taxes instead of having a statewide funding formula that is aligned to learning standards, fiscally responsible, fair and both Constitutional and ethical.
Want to fight back? PLEDGE RIGHT NOW to join the Statewide "Call" to Action for Public Education in December

Ed. Note: JSPAN policy states in part: JSPAN supports efforts to adequately fund public school education throughout the Commonwealth. We agree that all of the Commonwealth's children deserve the opportunity to learn and that an educated citizenry is our most effective economic development tool for a future of equity, prosperity and of growth for our citizens. We recognize that the state must raise more money to accomplish this goal, and we also agree that the tax system that relies on local property taxes perpetuates the differences between wealthy districts and poorer districts and is unfair to the elderly and those living on fixed income.


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Democrats Lobby Against any Broader Exceptions to Contraceptive Coverage
N.C. Aizenm, Washington Post
(November 22, 2011)

Democratic lawmakers, fearful that President Obama is on the verge of significantly diluting a proposed regulation that would give millions of women access to birth control without out-of- pocket insurance charges, are furiously lobbying the White House to hold the line.

At issue is whether the provision, announced in August, should exempt a far broader range of religious organizations than originally proposed.

In a phone call with senior White House adviser David Plouffe on Tuesday afternoon, eight senators argued that the consequences of expanding the exemption would be devastating, according to people familiar with the call.


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Ed. Note: On August 8, 2011, JSPAN sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sibelius congratulating her on the adoption of the regulations that are the subject of this article.

On November 23, 2011, JSPAN President Brian Gralnick sent the following letter to President Obama.

Dear President Obama,

I am writing on behalf of the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN), a progressive, faith- based, non-profit organization that supports reproductive freedom for women. This summer, we applauded your administration for issuing new standards that require all insurers to cover contraceptives without a co-pay beginning next year. We wrote to Secretary Sebelius thanking her for supporting comprehensive women's reproductive health by including no-cost birth control in the regulations.

We understand Members of Congress, the Catholic Church, and other organizations are working hard to convince you to expand the refusal clause to include all employees of Catholic organizations and institutions, such as hospitals, charitable organizations, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities and additional organizations and institutions. Despite the increase in pressure to eliminate or significantly weaken this contraceptive mandate, we urge you to remain steadfast in your support for women's reproductive health choices.

We believe that the new rules, which already exempt churches and other religious institutions from having to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees, are adequate to meet generally-accepted standards for religious exemptions. The rules, as they stand, are consistent with provisions in state laws upheld by the highest courts in New York and California.

More importantly, your administration's policy on birth control coverage follows the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine's recommendations which consider the medical facts, including the high rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion largely caused by lack of access to birth control due to financial constraints.

As a faith-based organization, we urge you to remain resolute and uphold your administration's recommendations as they currently stand. This mandate, as it is written, will enable millions of women to exercise their right to make their own reproductive choices and decide what is best for them.


New Jersey Nurses Charge Religious Discrimination over Hospital Abortion Policy
Rob Stein, Washington Post
(November 27, 2011)

A dozen nurses in New Jersey have rekindled the contentious debate over when health-care workers can refuse to play a role in caring for women getting abortions.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court Oct. 31, 12 nurses charge that the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey violated state and federal laws by abruptly announcing in September that nurses would have to help with abortion patients before and after the procedure, reversing a long-standing policy exempting employees who refuse based on religious or moral objections.

"I'm a nurse so I can help people, not help kill, and it just doesn't seem right to me," said Beryl Otieno-Negoje, one of the nurses. "No health professional should be forced to choose between assisting abortion or being penalized at work."

The University Hospital issued a statement that "no nurse is compelled to have direct involvement in, and/or attendance in the room at the time of, a procedure to which she or he objects based on his/her cultural values, ethics and/or religious beliefs."

"The university is in full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and is confident its position will be vindicated when the court gives this matter a full hearing," according to the statement.


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Older, Suburban and Struggling, 'Near Poor' Startle the Census
New York Times
(November 19, 2011)

WASHINGTON - They drive cars, but seldom new ones. They earn paychecks, but not big ones. Many own homes. Most pay taxes. Half are married, and nearly half live in the suburbs. None are poor, but many describe themselves as barely scraping by. Down but not quite out, these Americans form a diverse group sometimes called "near poor" and sometimes simply overlooked - and a new count suggests they are far more numerous than previously understood.

When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people - one in three Americans - either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.

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Poverty on the rise in Bucks, Montco
Crissa Shoemaker DeBree,
(November 20, 2011)

Bucks County saw Greater Philadelphia's highest percentage-point increase in the number of people living in poverty last year, thanks to high unemployment, scarce jobs and the rising cost of just about everything.

As a result, social service agencies that deal with those in need say they've been overwhelmed by the demand and underwhelmed by the support they're receiving from government funding and donations.

"There's not a light at the end of the tunnel," said David Ford. He's the outreach director for the Bucks County Opportunity Council, which promotes economic self-sufficiency and provides financial assistance to those in need.

"They don't see a new job coming down the pike anytime soon. We provide financial assistance in cases where somebody can maintain it beyond our one-time intervention," he said. "The reality is, for many people there's not a light at the end of the tunnel."


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Inquirer Editorial: Deciding Who can be Armed
(November 28, 2011)

The threat of gun violence to Philadelphia-area residents from the so-called Florida loophole could go national - unless U.S. senators such as Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, and many others, do the right thing.

Under a bill just rammed through the U.S. House to a tune called by the National Rifle Association, every state that permits residents to carry concealed handguns would have to honor permits held by gun owners from other states.

That would scrap the long-established notion that states should have the right to shape their own approach as to who gets to carry a legal weapon. In Pennsylvania, for instance, police have the right to use discretion in denying a gun permit if, as in Philadelphia, they question an applicant's character. In the landmark case establishing citizens' right to own firearms under the Constitution's Second Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court pointed to just such rules when it upheld the "ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values" on firearms.


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Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan Asked To Sit Out Supreme Court Health Care Case
MARK SHERMAN, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Conservative interest groups and Republican lawmakers want Justice Elena Kagan off the health care case. Liberals and Democrats in Congress say it's Justice Clarence Thomas who should sit it out.

Neither justice is budging - the right decision, according to many ethicists and legal experts.

None of the parties in the case has asked the justices to excuse themselves. But underlying the calls on both sides is their belief that the conservative Thomas is a sure vote to strike down President Barack Obama's health care law and that the liberal Kagan is certain to uphold the main domestic achievement of the man who appointed her.

The stakes are high in the court's election-year review of a law aimed at extending coverage to more than 30 million people. Both sides have engaged in broad legal and political maneuvering for the most favorable conditions surrounding the court's consideration of the case.


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Book Review: Umberto Eco and Treacherous Texts
Conspiracy theories and intense historical settings are Umberto Eco's forte, and here he turns his attention to one of history's most persuasive and destructive false texts - with mixed results.

By Benjamin Balint, Haaretz
(November 17, 2001)

Provided they exert sufficiently seductive explanatory power and narrative hold, untruths, falsehoods and forgeries direct human affairs. Such is the premise of the latest offering from the Italian writer Umberto Eco, 79, a retired professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, best known for his novels "The Name of the Rose" (1980) and "Foucault's Pendulum" (1988).

Eco's impressively researched new novel, "The Prague Cemetery," takes the form of a series of flashbacks recorded in a diary written in 1897-98 by a 67 year-old with a diseased imagination and a split personality named Captain Simonini, the forger of the infamous "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

In a letter to the reader that prefaces the book, Eco writes that he has endeavored to make its main character - and its only fictional figure - "the most cynical and disagreeable in all the history of literature." This is no empty boast. Eco happens to know something about disgusting figures. In his book "On Ugliness" (2007), he reflected on all manner of repulsiveness, obscenity and deformity.

Simonini, a shameless plagiarist and cold-hearted murderer, embodies all three. His parents named him after Simon of Trent, an Italian boy whose disappearance in 1475 was blamed on Jews accused of draining his blood for use in Passover matzah. (The Catholic Church removed St. Simon from its Calendar of Saints only in 1965). As though conforming to the blood libel that lent him his name, Simonini is a man corroded by his own resentments. He has spent his life breathing in second-hand loathings. His self-declared motto is "odi ergo sum" - I hate, therefore I am.


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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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