Do Not Stand Idly By!

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:



Newsletter: October 22, 2010
JSPAN 2010 Social Justice Award to Philadelphia Activist
Arlene Fickler, noted attorney and community activist, will receive the Jewish Social Policy Action Network's sixth annual Social Justice Award at a reception November 16, 2010 in the Independence Visitor Center, Philadelphia. Her achievements in the law have set the stage for a lifetime commitment to strengthening the Jewish community, both locally and nationally.

Arlene has to her credit a number of significant accomplishments in the legal arena: a founding partner of Hoyle, Fickler, Herschel & Mathes, LLP, following an earned partnership at Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis. Previous to these positions, she was a cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she participated in Law Review.

Successful as a litigator, she has undertaken major professional pro bono responsibilities, including service as Chair of the Federal Courts Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Trustee of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the American Law Institute, member of the Second Circuit Federal Bar Council, and Barrister of the University of Pennsylvania American Inn of Court. She served as a member of the Law School Board of Managers of the University of Pennsylvania and University Law Alumni Society.

Arlene is a dynamic community leader, and her interests cover a wide range of community-building activities. She has served in leadership roles in the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, the local JCCs, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Jewish Publishing Group, HIAS Immigration Services, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel. She was co-chair of the organizing committee for the JCC's 2001 Maccabi Games, which engaged 1,750 teenagers in Philadelphia.

Arlene represented the American Jewish Congress and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council in County of Allegheny v. ACLU in the United States Supreme Court, the First Amendment case involving a creche and menorah on public property. She now serves on the JSPAN Church-State Policy Center.

Arlene Fickler is a most worthy recipient of this year's JSPAN Social Justice Award. We hope that you will join us for what promises to be a special evening.

Invitations for the reception and presentation were mailed out last week. If you have not received yours, please call JSPAN at (215) 635-2554 or click here to send an e-mail to JSPAN executive director, Lynn Gottlieb.

See you on November 16!









In God's Image
In an editorial which appeared on October 6, 2010 on The New Jersey Jewish News website, it was reported that "various groups and individuals within the Jewish community have been ahead of the curve in recognizing the dehumanizing impact of discrimination based on sexual difference and gender." This observation followed the news of the recent deaths of six teens who committed suicide after being harassed and bullied by their peers because of their sexual orientation.

However, the editorial concluded with a cautionary note: "The Jewish and general community still has a long way to go in recognizing ... "that all human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot)."

To read The New Jersey Jewish News editorial, "In God's Image," in its entirety, click here.

The August 13, 2010 issue of the JSPAN e-newsletter reported on the release of a "Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community" by an ad hoc group of individuals from the modern Orthodox community in the United States and Israel. To read the "Statement" in its entirety, click here.





Do Not Stand Idly By!
Keshet's mission is to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews are fully included in all parts of the Jewish community. In the Greater Boston area, Keshet offers social and cultural events for GLBT Jews, ranging from Jewish text study to an annual GLBT Jewish speed-dating gala, Keshet Quick Dates. Nationally, Keshet offers support, training and resources to create a Jewish community that welcomes and affirms GLBT Jews.

Keshet has launched a campaign entitled "Do Not Stand By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives." The goal is to gather 18,000 signatures from the Jewish community by the end of the calendar year, youths and adults alike, who commit to "not stand(ing) by in the face of suffering and injustice. ... As members of a tradition that sees each person as created in the divine image, we respond with anguish and outrage at the spate of suicides brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance. We hereby commit to ending homophonic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities." Signatories are committing themselves "to do whatever I can to ensure that each and every person in my community is treated with dignity and respect."

JSPAN has joined the more than 100 Jewish organizations across the United States who are signatories to the pledge. Click here to add your name to those individuals joining the campaign. Remember - the goal is 18,000 signatures!




What is the "Pushout" Crisis?
During the week of October 11-17, the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) organized actions around the country advocating for the human right of every student to a quality education and to be treated with dignity. DSC is a coalition of over 40 individuals and organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), whose aim is to challenge the systemic problem of "pushout" in our nation's schools and provide concrete alternatives to a culture of removal and punishment.

What is the "pushout" crisis? Too many students are pushed out of school by harmful disciplinary measures, degrading environments and other policies and practices that prevent or discourage young people from staying in school and graduating. This systemic inequality pushes out students of color, LGBT students, students with disabilities, students in low-income communities and other historically disenfranchised youth at higher rates.

To reverse this trend, schools need to end zero-tolerance and criminalization, create positive environments based on dignity and adopt positive approaches to discipline.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign actions this month involved students, parents, teachers and policy makers, and included town hall meetings, community workshops, teach-ins, testimony before local school boards and city councils and meetings with members of Congress. In Philadelphia, the ACLU joined with partners and organized the Southeastern Pennsylvania Education Summit, which took place on October 14. In addition, testimony was presented to the Philadelphia School Board and copies of "Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Public Students in Pennsylvania" were distributed. (For more information on this handbook, see the next article.)

In summary, the Dignity in Schools Campaign is working to redefine the problem and reframe the discussion from the "dropout" crisis to the "pushout" crisis, and to demand solutions that protect and promote the human rights of all students.





Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Public Students in Pennsylvania
Can school administrators search students' lockers without permission? Can a student be sent home for wearing a T-shirt with a political message? Can homeless students attend public school?

Learn more about these and other important rights students do (and don’t) have in the new edition of Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Public Students in Pennsylvania. This 76-page booklet from the ACLU of Pennsylvania covers a wide range of issues, from freedom of expression to school discipline and policing to language access.

Order your free copy of Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Public Students in Pennsylvania or download a pdf version from our website today!

Students do not leave their rights at the school gates. If you are a young person, parent, or teacher, you need facts to help protect students' rights.

Topics covered in the handbook include:

  • Right of free expression
  • Religion in school
  • Student use of the Internet
  • Student privacy
  • Security and policing
  • School discipline
  • Immigration
  • Language access
  • Students with disabilities
  • Enrollment
  • Students and the military
  • Sexual health and education

To access a copy of the handbook, click here.







Fighting Poverty with Faith 2010
In the October 14, 2010 issue of Confronting Poverty, a publication of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), it was announced that the third annual "Fighting Poverty with Faith" mobilization had been launched this month. This year’s effort by the JCPA, along with its partners at Catholic Charities USA and the National Council of Churches in Christ, involves more than 50 national faith-based organizations. It will focus new attention on the causes of poverty, highlight strategies to reduce poverty, and aggressively seek new economic opportunities for the nation’s most vulnerable.

It is the goal of Fighting Poverty with Faith to not just help our neighbors in need, but to influence the way our national and state leaders address poverty through public policy. Fighting Poverty with Faith began this year on October 5th with a national teleconference with the White House. The discussion focused on the important role that faith-based organizations play in fighting poverty and participants heard about anti-poverty initiatives on President Obama's agenda from Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Martha Coven from the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The JCPA is hosting an e-postcard campaign, asking President Obama to re-state his commitment to cut poverty in half in the next 10 years. They are requesting that the President reaffirm his commitment during a major public address, like the State of the Union. To sign and send an e-postcard, please go here.

The 2010 Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization will conclude with an event in Washington, D.C. on November 22, that will bring together national faith leaders with elected officials and key policy makers to discuss ways to achieve the goal of cutting poverty in the U.S. in half by 2020.

Stay tuned for further details about the November 22 mobilization.  






New Study Investigates Attitudes of Jewish Leaders in their 20's and 30's
The Avi Chai Foundation is a private foundation established in 1984 that is committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people. In September 2010 it released a report entitled "Generation of Change: How Leaders in Their Twenties and Thirties are Reshaping American Jewish Life," by the sociologist Jack Wertheimer, Joseph and Martha Mendelson Professor of American Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Research for the report, chronicling "the experiences of being Jews in America," had been conducted over a two year period and involved interviews of over 250 leaders across the country as well as surveys that elicited responses from close to 4,500 leaders of all ages. The report attempts to offer some perspectives around three overarching questions:

  • What do we know about the attitudes and goals of young Jewish leaders when it comes to the American Jewish agenda?
  • What have been the key influences shaping young leaders?
  • What, in broad strokes, are the implications of these findings?
The report states: "Few informed observers of the American Jewish scene doubt that the present moment is one of rapid change. ... Driving many of these changes are a new generation of Jews in their 20's and 30's who are assuming positions of leadership in established organizations or launching new initiatives to reach their peers in novel ways. ... Anyone interested in the future of American Jewry will need to understand where these young leaders intend to take organized Jewish life and how they think about Jewish issues."

On October 12, 2010 Jacob Berkman reported in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about some of the findings in this report. Click here to access his article, entitled "New study of emerging Jewish leaders shows class differences."

To read an executive summary and the full text of "Generation of Change: How Leaders in Their Twenties and Thirties Are Reshaping American Jewish Life" by Jack Wertheimer,click here.




The Exchange: Putting Ideas to Work for Older Americans
The Exchange is an exciting new Web site that offers a fun and easy way for people across the country to voice their ideas on how to improve aging services. National Council on Aging (NCOA) manages the site, but it's designed as a collaborative space where everyone in the aging network can meet to share and advance new ideas.

Now, they're asking people to submit their ideas on how to improve the Older Americans Act (OAA), which is up for reauthorization in 2011. Created in 1965, the OAA was the first federal level initiative aimed at providing comprehensive services for older adults. It funds critical services that keep older adults healthy, independent, and engaged - meals, job training, senior centers, transportation, health promotion, and more.

What constitutes an idea? An idea is anything you think will improve the Older Americans Act. It could be big or small - revolutionary or just plain common sense. It can be based on personal experience or something you heard about. NCOA would like your ideas in several key areas, including health and self-care, economic security, advocacy and civic engagement. They hope to identify the best ideas, build consensus, and then launch an advocacy campaign to turn them into law.

Click here to access the Exchange and post an idea! You can also vote for and comment on ideas already submitted. By doing so, you'll help advance the best ideas to the top. These are the ideas that NCOA staff and thought leaders will examine closely to see how they can design legislation that will improve the lives of seniors across the nation.

Click here to access the full text of the Older Americans Act.  






Voting Rights Violated is the leading web site for social change, providing daily news and information about important social issues and empowering people to take action. Its weekly issue of October 11-18 included the following editorial.
Election Day is near, and candidates across the country are busy traversing their districts in yet another election that will likely be decided by voter turnout.

But voting in the United States has never been as easy as simply showing up at the polls - and in some states it's getting more difficult in ways that disproportionately affect immigrant and minority voters.

The poster child for this trend is Georgia under Republican Governor Sonny Perdue. Just before the 2008 election, the Department of Justice was forced to intervene to block a flawed voter-verification process in the state that inaccurately flagged thousands of Georgia residents as non-citizens, denying them the right to vote.

This election, Georgia is once again planning an extensive new voter-verification process that voting rights advocates say could effectively disenfranchise thousands of citizens. But this time the state hasn't stopped at its attempt to implement more barriers to voting. Instead, it has also challenged the bedrock provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that requires jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to submit proposed voting changes for federal pre-approval, to ensure that they are free from discrimination.

This is part of a disturbing movement of states with a dark history of voting discrimination - including Alabama, North Carolina and Texas - that are proposing newly restrictive voting measures that disproportionally impact minority voters, while simultaneously challenging the Voting Right Act's provision requiring they receive approval from the courts.

We've made dramatic progress in reducing discrimination in our electoral system in the four decades since the Voting Rights Act was passed. But there are still reports of irregularities and racially-charged voter suppression in almost every election, and in that context challenges to the most important voting rights legislation ever passed in the United States should concern everyone.

That's why with Election Day only two weeks away, we're joining with our friends at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in urging our national leaders to affirm the breadth and depth of the Voting Rights Act and prevent the disenfranchisement of minority voters.

Please click here to add your voice in support of the voting rights of all Americans today.








Appeals Court Urged to Strike Down National Day of Prayer
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. In an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on October 8, 2010, Americans United urged the panel of judges to affirm a lower court decision that held the congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer (NDP) statute unconstitutional.

In April, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin had ruled that the federal law violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The Obama administration has appealed Crabb’s decision to the 7th Circuit.

“Congress needs to get out of the prayer business,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Prayer is an inherently religious practice, and our Constitution makes it clear that promoting it is not part of the government’s job. It’s time to end this misguided tradition. The district court got this right, and I’m hopeful the appeals court will, too.”

Congress created the National Day of Prayer in 1952. In 1988, after pressure from the Religious Right, it was codified as the first Thursday in May. The law directs the president to proclaim on that day that Americans “may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

Americans United’s brief argues that the NDP statute is a “plain endorsement of religion over nonreligion and of certain types of religious beliefs and practices over others.” The brief also asserts that the statute has no secular purpose and “by its very terms it is not a commemoration or accommodation of our religious heritage but an active encouragement to engage in religious practice.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Americans Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation joined Americans United in filing the brief in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama.

To access the text of the brief filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, click here.







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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.

Ruth Laibson

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.