December 2015


JSPAN Newsletter - December 2015

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: December 2015
What Does American Greatness Mean After San Bernardino?
By Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, JSPAN President

The mass shooting in San Bernardino, which, it is now known, was an act of terror, has initiated a cascading wave of rhetoric and recrimination fueled by fear and self-interest. Donald J. Trump, who began his campaign for the presidency with an indiscriminate and vile attack against illegal immigrants from Mexico, and who raised the ante by seeming to endorse a national registry for Muslim-Americans, has now declared that in response to the fear of terror, the United States should shut its doors to all Muslims coming from abroad. Put up the "Muslims Not Welcome" sign for them!

Outrageous as his statement may be, the greater problem is that there are many Americans who applaud his comments and endorse them. But why should that surprise us? Throughout his campaign his intemperate statements have been met with howls of approval, and his poll numbers among Republicans are soaring.

This is a dangerous time for America.


[read more]


JSPAN Joins Community Outcry Against Desecration of Local Mosque
JSPAN added its voice to the community outcry following the recent desecration of the local mosque of the Al Aqsa Islamic Society this week when a pig's head was placed at the mosque's door. On behalf of our President and our Board of Directors, JSPAN has communicated its support and let the mosque's community know that we stand with its leaders and families against "anti-Muslim rhetoric that permeates the airwaves and many segments of our society."


[read more]


JSPAN Supports Black Lives Matter Movement, Issues Position Paper, "Why Black Lives Matter So Much"
As an organization committed to social justice-powered by Jewish teachings and experiences of discrimination at the hands of political authorities--JSPAN has issued a position statement entitled "Why 'Black Lives Matter' Matters to JSPAN," supporting the central concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter movement and committing "to seeking concrete ways to take action, in conjunction with other groups, to bring about the necessary education and political, social and public policy changes that will end racism's stranglehold on our political community." Based on discussions by the organization's Executive Committee and Board of Directors and in a statement drafted by Vice President Marc Stier, JSPAN takes the position that "[J]ustice demands not only that we treat others properly but also that we stand for changes in public policy that remove deep-seated sources of injustice, including the structural discrimination that afflicts Black Americans' lives. We must advocate for a system of justice that is no longer structurally racist . . . . We are part of a tradition that teaches that the legal system must be equal for all, rich and poor, resident or stranger, and, in this context, Black or White. The establishment of this kind of fair and equal justice is an urgent matter for our society." To read the full statement, read more.


Board Meeting: Jonathan Lipson
By Edward Hoffman

For this month's installment of his column, "Board Meeting," JSPAN Board Member Ed Hoffman introduces fellow Board member Jonathan Lipson, Harold E. Kohn Professor of Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law. Professor Lipson teaches a variety of business law courses at Temple School of Law where he joined the faculty after practicing commercial, corporate and bankruptcy law in New York and Boston.


[read more]


Missed JSPAN's "American Democracy Challenged" on Gerrymandering & Campaign Finance? Here's a Report

The campaign finance landscape, turned upside down by Supreme Court rulings of the past five years, was one of two overarching challenges explored by local journalists Dick Polman and Chris Satullo, presenters at the November 22nd program on "American Democracy Challenged." The other issue was gerrymandering, discussed by PA state Senator Daylin Leach and Ken Myers, Interim President of Common Cause PA. This sophisticated panel also suggested potential avenues for change.


[read more]


What You Can Do: Kenneth Myers, Chair, PA Common Cause, Urges Efforts to Make PA Senate Bill 484 the Law
If you're interested in taking action to improve the Commonwealth's process for reapportionment and redrawing of its electoral districts, then you'll want to know all about the ideas Ken Myers, Interim Chair of PA Common Cause, has described-both when he presented at JSPAN's recent "American Democracy Challenged" program and in a recent letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer-to take politics out of the process and put "citizens in control."


[read more]


Get It Now. ACLU Launches Mobile Justice App to Record Police Encounters

The ACLU of PA has launched its Mobile Justice App. This app allows users to record police encounters and send videos automatically to the American Civil Liberties Union, so they're safe even if the phone is taken or the video deleted. Using the app, users also can learn their rights when encountering or witnessing an incident with law enforcement and much more. Learn more about it here.



Attention Homeland Fans: Mandy Patinkin on "Death behind me, and life in front of me"

Last month actor Mandy Patinkin, who plays a "Homeland" CIA division chief racing to save a fictional world from a terror attack, helped refugees get ashore on the Greek island of Lesbos. The Washington Post asked Patinkin to describe that journey on a beach, and how it changed his thinking. In his poignant account, Patinkin writes about the "the realities of terrorism and war" that he "only imagined on screen" and his commitment to help migrants survive.

[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




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JSPAN Officers
Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom

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

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
Babette Josephs
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 Straus
Ilene Wasserman
Deborah Weinstein
Lynn Zeitlin z"l


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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