February 2015


JSPAN Newsletter - February 2015

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: February 2015
JSPAN Elects Officers to 2015-16 Terms
Congratulations to the 2015-16 JSPAN Officers and Executive Committee members:


Deborah Weinstein
Richard I. Malkin
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Jill Katz Zipin
Joanna Klein
George Pomerantz
Lynn G. Zeitlin
Stuart Weintraub
Interim President
First Vice President
Vice President
Vice President
Vice President
Past President
General Counsel


We also extend our appreciation to outgoing officers for their long and steadfast service to the organization: David Gutin, Judah Labovitz, Jay Meadway, Kenneth R. Myers, Jeffrey Pasek and Brian Gralnick. All continue as active Board members except David Gutin and Kenneth R. Myers to whom JSPAN is particularly grateful as both have made significant contributions to building JSPAN into the organization it is today. Many, many thanks to you all!



Reflections: Improving Race Relations
By Rabbi George M. Stern
Executive Director, JSPAN

In the months since the tragedy in Ferguson, MO, and especially since the two grand jury decisions in December, it has been difficult to discern a path leading from the legitimate emotional responses by both African Americans and others (including many whites and Jews) to the rational process necessary to fashion solutions.

On Martin Luther King Day and the weekend preceding it, I had the opportunity to participate in three events that give me hope. The first was a very well-received dialogue at Germantown Jewish Centre between Rev. Cean James, an African American pastor, and me, in which we honestly shared fears, expectations of each other and our people, and the importance of understanding the role that past events play in our perceptions of the present-for both Jews and blacks.

The second event was the MLK D.A.R.E. March on Monday, which recaptured the moral themes of Dr. King's work by highlighting living wages, educational equity, and a just law enforcement system-all necessary for a society where all can benefit and realize their potential. I was struck by the amazing diversity of the crowd of thousands-all ages, creeds, races, ethnicities, gender identities, and more.

Lastly, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network, the Cheltenham NAACP, and Arcadia University joined to explore "How the Police and Minority Youth Can Improve Their Interactions," showcasing a program used at the Police Academy.

[read more]


Do the Religious Beliefs of Supreme Court Justices Influence their Decisions?
At JSPAN we're all about informing, educating and acting to support progressive social policy and promote a just society driven by our Jewish values. Recently, Moment Magazine partnered with the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute to explore how the religious values of Supreme Court Justices might influence their decisions. As described below, this discussion, taking into the account the religious diversity of the Justices, is available on C-Span and in print. The Moment symposium moderated by Rachel E. Gross, features Robert Barnes, Lyle Denniston, Tony Mauro, Sarah Posner, Leslie C. Griffin, Stephen Wermiel, Marshall Breger, Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick. -Ed.


Moment Magazine - January Edition
Interviews by Sarah Breger, Marilyn Cooper, Rachel E. Gross, Amy E. Schwartz

When it comes to religion, the Supreme Court of the United States has undergone a dramatic transformation. For centuries, the justices were largely Protestants. Now, for the first time in its history, the bench is composed of three Jews and six Catholics, including several devout Catholics. As the Court's makeup has changed, so have attitudes toward religion. Just a decade ago, the general consensus was that justices were like umpires, objectively presiding over the nation's legal system. That thinking has begun to change, particularly in light of recent cases in which religion has played a prominent role, such as Town of Greece v. Galloway (the Court ruled that public prayer was appropriate before town hall meetings) and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (the Court ruled that small-business owners didn't have to provide contraception coverage to employees if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs). To view the discussion on C-span or


[read more]


Philadelphia Moves Toward Universal Quality Pre-K and You Can Help!
Did you know that Investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds has a long-term ripple effect that positively benefits children? It:
  • Significantly improves early literacy, language and math skills at a crucial age in a child's development.
  • Cuts special education placements by nearly half through second grade.
  • Reduces grade repetition by as much as a third through eighth grade.
  • Increases the likelihood of high school graduation and college enrollment, leading to stronger employment opportunities and lifetime earning potential.

Every dollar invested in pre-K returns as much as $17 in savings over the long-term. It's estimated that full state investment in pre-K programs would lead to an additional 28,000 jobs created and $800 million spent in the local economy. It's a win-win all the way around.

That's why JSPAN recently passed an educational policy statement that said:

JSPAN believes that access to quality public education for all students is a civil right, without which society lacks equity and fairness, its economy hobbled and morality compromised. We support fully funded public education, preschool through undergraduate college, throughout the Commonwealth... . JSPAN recognizes that the state must provide sufficient funds to ensure quality public education for all.

And that's also why we hope you will join us in asking Philadelphia City Council to place a measure on the May 19 ballot to create a task force charged with devising a plan for the city to implement and fund high-quality pre-K programs for every 3- and 4-year old child.

To sign a petition supporting this ballot measure, click here.


Federal Lawsuit Targets DHS For Illegally Delaying Health Coverage for 85,000 Pennsylvania Women
This article describes the case captioned "Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Mackereth," case number 15-cv-135, assigned to the Honorable Joel H. Slomsky. The lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services (DHS) unlawfully refused tens of thousands of Pennsylvania women Medicaid coverage to which they are entitled. It further asserts that DHS's refusal to refer SelectPlan recipients in time for them to sign up for subsidized health insurance likewise violates federal law. In view of the seriousness of these allegations, JSPAN is watching this litigation closely. - Ed.

Women's Law Project
January 13, 2015

Two women's health organizations and a private citizen filed a federal class action claiming that the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is unlawfully delaying the enrollment of tens of thousands of Pennsylvania women into comprehensive Medicaid coverage for which they qualified effective January 1.

According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, approximately 85,000 women in Pennsylvania who are currently enrolled in SelectPlan for Women, a limited Medicaid program that only covers family planning services, currently qualify for full health coverage either through Healthy PA, the Corbett Administration's version of Medicaid expansion, or through subsidized insurance on Pennsylvania's federally facilitated health insurance Marketplace.

"These 85,000 women are the working poor," said Amy Hirsch, attorney for Community Legal Services.


[read more]


Let's Stop This Talk of 'Great' or 'Failing' Schools and Talk about Student Needs
In June 2014, JSPAN established a community-based Education Policy Center to recommend new approaches for improving education for all students. Below Education Policy Center member Elliott Seif discusses how to create successful schools. Dr. Seif is a longtime educator, author, trainer and Philadelphia School District volunteer. He holds a master's degree in social science education from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in curriculum research from Washington University. Note that the comments following the article produce a lively debate about urban education. -Ed.

Let's Stop This Talk of 'Great' or 'Failing' Schools and Talk about Student Needs
The Notebook
By Elliot Seif
January 7, 2015

Charter school proponents often suggest that the ills of urban education can be solved by simply creating more charter schools. And even more people believe that, if we could just have better teachers in all urban public schools, we could increase student achievement and success for all students.

But are schools and teachers really at fault? My own examination of urban children and their families suggests a very different reality. In order to explain why some schools succeed while others do not, I have categorized the city's children into three groups. The first, likely about 20 percent of children, are the highly academic students who are accepted to top Philadelphia public schools. Most of these students come from stable middle-class homes, where learning is important. They often get read to as young children, frequently talk with adults, have high vocabulary levels, learn the rules of good behavior, and have strong adult advocates. In school they have good attendance, do their homework, have access to books and libraries, and get decent grades. For them, schools are places where they are successful and cared for.


[read more]


Your Chance to Support a More Dignified Wage for Pennsylvanians
Now you can join people from all across PA for workshops and lobbying to raise the state's minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour.

JSPAN has long supported raising the minimum wage-to a point where it is in fact a wage that people can live on with dignity. Our policy states: "The federal government has a primary responsibility to address poverty and encourage conditions that allow families to move from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. This includes the guarantee of a minimum wage sufficient to allow families to support themselves and participate productively in our economy, including workers who depend on tips as part of their compensation. The promise of America, and the goal of a decent family life for all, requires prompt passage of legislation to raise the minimum wage."

In this era, many states are acting to fill the vacuum created by the failure of the federal government to act. Raise the Wage PA is staging a kickoff event on February 9 in Harrisburg to pressure our state government to act. You can register here.


9 Jewish Things To Watch If You're Snowed In
The Jewish Daily Forward
By Anne Cohen
January 27, 2015

If you're on the East Coast right now, there's a pretty good chance that you're hunkered down with a fridge full of food and a couple of extra blankets. So, what better time to catch up on all those shows and movies you've been meaning to see?

Here are a couple of our more Jewish suggestions:

1) The Honourable Woman: This 8-part mini-series/Middle East thriller won Maggie Gyllenhaal a Golden Globe this year. Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman, hiding a dark secret. Available on Netflix

2) Hatufim (Prisoners of War): Getting tired of "Homeland"? I don't blame you. But why watch a remake when you can watch the original? This Israeli series. Available on Hulu Plus


[read more]


Free Screening: American Denial
This winter and spring WHYY brings a series of documentary films from the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens to the big screen. Next up is American Denial. In the wake of recent events that have sparked a national dialogue on race dynamics, American Denial explores the impact of unconscious biases around race and class, using Gunnar Myrdal's 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism. Screenings are at Drexel University (February 10, 7 p.m.), Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville (February 11, 4:30 p.m.), University of Delaware in Wilmington (February 20, 12:30 p.m.), and Bryn Mawr Film Institute (February 21, 11 a.m.).

Registration is required at https://www.whyy.org/events/americandenial.php. More info at 215-351-0511, weekdays 9-5.



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




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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

George Stern
Deborah Weinstein

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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