End-of-Life Choices - JSPAN Event on April 14

JSPAN Newsletter - March 25, 2011

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: March 25, 2011
Helping Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Victims - A Message From Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom of Congregation Adath Jeshurun
In our High Holy Day liturgy, there is a prayer of the High Priest for the people who lived in the Valley of Sharon, an area that was subject to sudden earthquakes. He would pray: "May it be your will, Lord God, that their houses not become their graves."

Since Friday,[March 11] we have been transfixed by the images of destruction caused by the earthquake in Japan, and the subsequent tsunami. Even looking at the photos, the magnitude of the destruction is hard to believe. The images of the disastrous wave crashing ashore and uprooting everything in its path are indelibly fixed in our minds.

Now we also know about potential destruction that could still occur due to the damage to several nuclear power plants. Indeed, for many "their houses have become their graves."

At a time like this, we want to help, as human beings, and as Jews.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, one of the oldest Jewish worldwide relief organizations, has established a "Japan/Pacific Emergency Relief Fund." You can donate online at the JDC website: http://www.jdc.org/.

If your prefer, you can send a check made out the Joint Distribution Committee, with the notation "Japan/Pacific Emergency Relief Fund", and send it to:

P.O. Box 530
132 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017


End-of-Life Choices - JSPAN Event on April 14
a video and panel discussion

Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., Director, Center for Bioethics, Professor of Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania

Rabbi Richard Adress, Director, Department of Family Concerns, Union for Reform Judaism
Dr. Susan Denman, Specialist in Geriatric Medicine
Prof Barry Furrow, Director, Health Law Program, Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University
Dr. Michael H. Levy, Vice Chairman, Medical Oncology, Director, Pain & Palliative Care, Fox Chase Cancer Center

For a patient with a terminal illness, individual choices can reduce suffering and bring important comfort. The right discussions with doctors, spiritual advisers and loved ones enable quality of life choices to be considered and implemented. The discussions can consider perspectives of personal comfort, morals and ethics, as well as personal goals. This program will examine ways to achieve those empowering yet difficult discussions within the circle of patient, professionals and family.

When: Thursday, April 14, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim

410 Montgomery Ave.
Wynnewood, PA

Admission Free
RSVP 215-635-2554


JSPAN 2011 Haggadah Supplement Now Available
JSPAN has just issued its 2011 Haggadah Supplement, which takes up the subject of hunger and food insecurity. The Supplement contains facts, readings and prayers, and offers contacts for action to fight hunger in our community and country. If you would like copies of the 12-page illustrated Haggadah Supplement for your Seder (at cost of $2.50 including postage), please call 215-635-2554.


Obama’s Health Care Overhaul Hits 1-year Mark; Some Welcome Benefits While Others Fear Costs
By Associated Press
Monday, March 21, 3:44 AM (Washington Post)

WASHINGTON — A year after President Barack Obama signed his health care overhaul, the law remains so divisive that Americans can’t even agree on what to call it. Even so, it is taking root in the land.

Whether it grows is another matter.

Polls show that about 1 in 8 Americans believe they have been personally helped already, well before the main push to cover the uninsured scheduled for 2014. Still, issues of affordability and complexity guarantee ongoing problems, even if the Supreme Court upholds the landmark legislation that made health insurance both a right and a responsibility.

Supporters call it the Affordable Care Act, a shortened version of the official title Democrats gave their massive bill. It may be better known as “Obamacare,” the epithet used by Republicans seeking its demise.

While Obama returns from Latin America on the signing anniversary Wednesday, administration officials will fan out across the country. Community commemorations that start Monday come as the health care battle moves to the states. Even states suing to nullify the law’s requirement that most Americans carry health insurance are proceeding with building blocks of the new system.


[read more]


Philly Councilwoman Blackwell to Hold Hearing on School Prayer
It is JSPAN policy that prayer in public schools violates the First Amendment. The Church State Committee will carefully monitor the hearings to be held by City Council and will be prepared to have an expert on the First Amendment testify in opposition to any attempt to introduce prayer into the public schools. Ed.

March 12, 2011
By Troy Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer

Prayer in schools is one of those topics that instantly catches people's attention and threatens to cause controversy.

But Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell said her intention to hold hearings this spring on school prayer should be considered an innocuous boostering of the benefits of a spiritual life and not an attempt to breach the wall between church and state.

Blackwell, chair of the Committee on Education, said she did not plan to advocate for the School District to take action regarding school prayer. She said that her constituents, particularly senior citizens, had requested a hearing and that she was more than willing to broach the topic. On Thursday, Council passed a resolution she introduced the previous week calling for the Committee on Education to hold hearings.

"I've been asked and asked and asked to introduce it," Blackwell said. "We want to have the discussion so people will know young people have the right of free expression."


[read more]


Ga. Executions Off: DEA Seizes Critical Drug
JSPAN policy opposes the death penalty as presently administered in the United States and calls for its immediate abolition. Ed.

The Associated Press (NPR.org)

ATLANTA - All Georgia executions are off after federal drug agents seized the state's supply of a sedative used in lethal injections that has been challenged by capital punishment critics and death-row inmates, including a man recently executed who called the British exporter of the drug a "fly-by-night supplier." Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell wouldn't say exactly why Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental was taken Tuesday, just that "we had questions about how the drug was imported to the U.S." The sedative is part of a three-drug cocktail used in executions that has been in short supply since the sole U.S. manufacturer stopped making it.

No more execution dates in Georgia have been scheduled and it's unlikely any will be set before the issue is resolved. Georgia Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Lauren Kane said prosecutors couldn't ask a judge to set executions if corrections officials didn't have the necessary supplies to carry one out.


[read more]


Utah Governor Signs Package of Bills that Boost Immigration Enforcement, Add Guest Worker Plan
By The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 15, 6:14 PM (Washington Post)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed bills Tuesday that will increase immigration enforcement but also implement a guest worker program in Utah, as he formally challenged the federal government to address immigration before states make their own fixes.

The package of four measures the Republican-dominated Legislature passed earlier this month has upset people on both sides of the issue, and Herbert made it clear a primary goal of the package is to force a federal solution.

One of the bills the GOP governor signed at the state Capitol requires police to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor. Another bill, however, creates a guest worker program for illegal immigrants in the state.

The other bills allow businesses to recruit Mexican workers and American citizens to sponsor foreign residents who want to work or study in Utah.

[read more]


In Madison, Only Some Jewish Voices Are Heard
By Cary Spivak
Published March 09, 2011, issue of March 18, 2011. (Forward)

The union struggle in Wisconsin has elicited support from 16 rabbis while federations remain silent.

Their absence, some critics charge, is a reflection of the outsize influence that wealthy donors exert over these organizations, even as many Jews are among the rank-and-file school teachers and civil servants who stand to see their collective bargaining rights diminished if legislation now on slate passes in the Wisconsin legislature.

Federations, said Avram Lyon, former executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee, “tend to be conservative. In order to not offend the conservative donors, the organizations tend to become hamstrung — particularly in places like Milwaukee. This is not something which is unique in the Jewish community.” But Jerry Benjamin, president of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, said that consensus building — not concern about offending major donors — is why the federations haven’t jumped into the skirmish.

“We always look for common ground, as much consensus as possible,” Benjamin said. “And that consensus is sometimes hard to find when there are sharply divided opinions.” But asked about the division of opinion in this case, Benjamin termed it “hard for me to characterize…I haven’t had many conversations.”


[read more]


Slim Majority Back Gay Marriage, Post-ABC Poll Says
By Sandhya Somashekhar and Peyton Craighill
Friday, March 18, 11:24 PM (Washington Post)

A slim majority of Americans now support gay marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The results underscore the nation’s increasingly tolerant views about homosexuals, and parallel a string of recent legal and legislative victories for gay rights advocates.

Five years ago, at 36 percent, support for gay marriage barely topped a third of all Americans. Now, 53 percent say gay marriage should be legal, marking the first time in Post-ABC polling that a majority has said so.

“This is very consistent with a lot of other polling data we’ve seen and the general momentum we’ve seen over the past year and a half,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a leading pro-gay-marriage group. “As people have come to understand this is about loving, committed families dealing, like everyone, with tough times, they understand how unfair it is to treat them differently.”


[read more]


Pope Exonerates Jews for Jesus' Death in New Book
By Nicole Winfield
Associated Press – Wed Mar 2, 5:16 pm ET (Yahoo.com)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, tackling one of the most controversial issues in Christianity in a new book.

In "Jesus of Nazareth-Part II" excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis in Scripture for the argument that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus' death.

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.

While the Catholic Church has for five decades taught that Jews weren't collectively responsible, Jewish scholars said Wednesday the argument laid out by the German-born pontiff, who has had his share of mishaps with Jews, was a landmark statement from a pope that would help fight anti-Semitism today.

"Holocaust survivors know only too well how the centuries-long charge of 'Christ killer' against the Jews created a poisonous climate of hate that was the foundation of anti-Semitic persecution whose ultimate expression was realized in the Holocaust," said Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.

The pope's book, he said, not only confirms church teaching refuting the deicide charge "but seals it for a new generation of Catholics."


[read more]



Book Review: Arendt on Trial
Deborah Lipstadt Revisits the Trial Behind 'Eichmann in Jerusalem' With 50 Years of Hindsight

By Michelle Sieff
The Forward, Published March 14, 2011

The Eichmann Trial, by Deborah Lipstadt

In 1961, the young state of Israel tried and executed the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Hannah Arendt covered the trial for the New Yorker, an account that was published in 1963 as “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” Arendt did not set out to write a journalistic trial narrative. Instead, she articulated a series of provocative and critical judgments about the trial, the wartime role of Europe’s Jewish Councils (the infamous Judenrats) and Eichmann’s motives. The book ignited a firestorm of controversy that, 50 years later, still crackles. Her book remains the lens through which people view the Eichmann trial.

With her new book, “The Eichmann Trial,” historian Deborah Lipstadt attempts to refute Arendt’s main arguments. On the cover is an iconic image of Arendt — pearl-bedecked and pensive, a cigarette dangling from her fingers — and an entire chapter of the book discusses her arguments. Although other scholars have re-examined the Eichmann trial — most notably the Israeli historian Hannah Yablonka, in a book published in English in 2004 as “The State of Israel vs. Adolf Eichmann” — Lipstadt aims to reach a wider audience.

[read more]


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