February 2016

 

JSPAN Newsletter - February 2016

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: February 2016
JSPAN-Positioned as the Organization of the Moment
By JSPAN President Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom

Writing in The Forward, J. J. Goldberg challenges Jewish organizations to develop an agenda that reflects the concerns of the community today.

JSPAN fits the description to a T.

Goldberg writes that American Jews "long ago stopped expecting the organized community's agenda to reflect their interests or values." Most Jews today, he writes, simply tune out the organizations.

That is why he argues that a new agenda is needed for American Jewish organizations.

What is that agenda? He notes that the main issues that unite members of the non-Orthodox community in America are social issues. And liberal, progressive ones, at that. He argues that nothing galvanizes the community so much as "gender and reproductive rights, immigration and church-state separation." Economic justice and workers' rights are also among the issues high on the agenda of America's Jews.

This is precisely JSPAN's mission. We do not deal with Israel. We are not primarily an organization that deals with Jewish self-interest. We appeal to the transformative power of the Jewish tradition to improve society, and create harmony and respect among all people.

 

[read more]

 

And Here's What J. J. Wrote: "First Step to Reflecting Jews' Real Values? Focus Less on Israel"
By J.J. Goldberg
The Forward
January 22, 2016

If it's not American Jewish liberals who have betrayed Israel, but our organizations that have betrayed us - as I argued in these pages last week - then that leaves us with a question: What would a genuine Jewish public agenda look like?

Here's a quick recap of how we got to where we are: When the main American Jewish advocacy organizations arose a century ago to defend Jews against anti-Semitism, they gained little traction - until World War II galvanized them to militancy. Beginning in 1945, they joined with black equal-rights organizations in a campaign to outlaw discrimination "on the basis of race or religion." Over the next 20 years, the coalition added unions and churches and pursued a broad agenda of social reform. For Jews, fighting for an open society promised equal rights for us and for other minorities. By the mid-1960s the Jewish community was known as a moral beacon and a political powerhouse.

Beginning around 1966, the black-Jewish coalition began to fracture over a range of diverging interests. Almost simultaneously, the Six Day War of 1967 gave the Jewish organizations an urgent new agenda: defending Israel. Since then, the major Jewish advocacy agencies have steadily narrowed their focus to a conservative-tinged foreign policy agenda that trumps all else.

 

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Board Meeting: Meet Ruth Damsker
By Edward Hoffman

Meet JSPAN Founder and Board Member, The Honorable Ruth Damsker, in this issue's installment of the interview column, "Board Meeting." You may know Ruth as a former Montgomery County Commissioner or long-time Cheltenham Township Finance Officer, the first Democrat and first woman in the position she likes to call simply, "Tax Collector," but Ruth has been overbooking herself pursuing progressive causes and serving the public good on countless fronts from picking peaches in the Israeli desert as a teenager to working for reproductive rights, improved education, voting rights and more.

 

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SCOTUS Amicus Brief Update: JSPAN Joins with Religious Leaders and Groups in Challenge to Texas Law Placing Limits on Right to Choose
On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the first abortion case it has considered in over 20 years, Whole Woman's Health v. Cole. JSPAN has joined with a group of religious organizations and individual religious leaders in filing an amicus brief opposing Texas law, HB2, which places specific requirements on abortion clinics and has forced many clinics across the state to close. The brief argues that a woman has a moral right to make her own decisions about her pregnancy in accordance with her faith and conscience, and that every woman must have access to medical care necessary to exercise that right. The amici warn that-unless struck down-these requirements will injure the health and dignity of countless women. In the brief, JSPAN reiterates that it is "firmly committed to supporting a woman's right to access safe and legal abortion services, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and has time and again opposed restrictions on that right. To review the amicus brief,

 

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Whole Woman's Health v. Cole: Amicus Brief Personalizes Choice [by Female Attorneys]
By Megan Fitzgerald
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review
Jan. 29, 2016

In March, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, which is likely to be the most important abortion case decided by the court in nearly 25 years. This time, a compelling amicus brief in which female attorneys share their personal experiences with abortion may influence the Court's decision. The case challenges Texas's House Bill 2, a state law passed in 2013 that adds onerous restrictions to clinics providing abortion services. Although the bill is best known by Wendy Davis's famous filibuster, which catapulted Davis and the bill into the national spotlight, the law ultimately passed.

 

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Don't Kvetch, Organize! Take Jewish Organizing Institute and Network (JOIN) for Justice Course
Would you like to have a greater impact on justice advocacy and social change? The Jewish Organizing Institute and Network for Justice (JOIN for Justice), is a national organization dedicated to training, supporting, and connecting Jewish organizers and their communities. JOIN for Justice responds to the escalating demand for skillful leaders who use organizing principles and practices to achieve positive social change.

JOIN for Justice is offering a seven week online course "Don't Kvetch, Organize!" from April 3-May 22 on fundamentals of community organizing and how these relate to Jewish traditions and values. Because of JSPAN's affiliation with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, JSPAN supporters get discounted rates (contact JSPAN Executive Director George Stern at georgestern@jspan.org).

Who knows? You may be the next Saul Alinsky.

 

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JSPAN Applauds PA Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Gov. Wolf's Grant of Reprieve to Death-Row Inmate
The JSPAN Board of Directors applauds the recent unanimous decision by the PA Supreme Court upholding Gov. Wolf's grant of reprieve to death-row inmate Terrance Williams. The decision is in keeping with the position taken by JSPAN in a detailed statement of interest supporting the amicus brief to the Court prepared by the PA American Civil Liberties Union. JSPAN has long opposed capital punishment as it is currently imposed, based on a reading of many Jewish sources and our concern over the moral implications of this form of punishment. As long as the death penalty remains in effect, JSPAN insists that it be applied in the most restricted manner possible, with safeguards to ensure that it is applied fairly and equitably across all social and economic groups, which is not the case today.

 

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JSPAN Endorses Fair Districts PA: Learn How You Can Take Action to End Gerrymandering
Pennsylvania has some of the most gerrymandered political districts in the country. JSPAN has long supported the creation of an independent redistricting system to restore competitive elections and government accountability and action to improve the Commonwealth's process for reapportionment and redrawing of electoral districts. Toward these goals, the JSPAN Board recently voted to join with the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and independent citizens across the Commonwealth in a coalition endorsing the efforts of Fair Districts PA to ensure fair districts and fair elections for PA voters. We believe that redistricting should be done in a manner that is transparent, impartial and fair. Find out what you can do to support this effort and legislative action at www.FairDistrictsPA.com. To review the Fair Districts PA Guiding Principles, click here.

 

 

Area Clergy Rebuke "ICE Raids" Against Immigrants: Say Deportation is "Unconscionable"
JSPAN President Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, acting on behalf of the organization, has joined with area clergy, faith leaders and women religious leaders in Pennsylvania, in the letter-writing program described below, urging President Obama, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Director Sarah Saldana and PA ICE Field Office Director Thomas Decker to immediately stop ICE raids targeting Central American families seeking asylum.-Ed.

By Joel Mathis
Philadelphia Magazine
Jan. 26, 2016

Nearly 300 clergy members across the Philadelphia area have signed a letter protesting recent "ICE raids" - a series of actions by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to deport Central American immigrants living in America without legal permission. The letter was first reported by Al Dia News Media which said 121 immigrants had been netted in the raids since around Christmas time.

Obama Administration officials have defended the raids.

But in the letter, the clergy collectively called the forced deportations "unconscionable." To review the full letter by The New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia together with a list of signatories,

 

[read more]

 

 

JSPAN Joins National and Local Groups to Support the US Refugee Resettlement Program and Resettlement of Syrian Refugees
JSPAN recently joined humanitarian aid organizations, and faith, labor, civil and human rights groups in expressing support for the U.S. refugee resettlement program and opposition to legislation to stop, pause or restrict funding for Syrian and other refugees. The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. More than four million Syrians have fled their home country to escape conflict and violence, and 6.5 million are displaced within Syria.

Our formal letter of support, sent Jan. 19, 2016, states in part, "We call upon Congress to demonstrate leadership by speaking out against the scapegoating of any group during this time of crisis and to ensure that our nation's humanitarian efforts are robust. The United States is a welcoming country with a diverse society and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this. We can welcome refugees while ensuring our own security. Refugees have enriched communities across our country and have been part of the American fabric for generations. Historically our nation has responded to every major war or conflict and has resettled refugees from Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Closing doors to refugees would be disastrous for not only the refugees themselves, but for their family members in the United States who are waiting for them to arrive, and our reputation in the world." To review the full letter,

 

[read more]

 

 

n4a's Analysis of the President's FY 2017 Budget Proposal
Thank you to n4a, National Association for Area Agencies on Aging, for doing the heavy lifting with analysis of the President's proposed 2017 budget and what it does and does not do to improve the welfare of older adults and caregivers-Eds.

N4a Legislative Update
February 11, 2016

This week, President Obama sent his FY 2017 budget request to Congress, thus beginning the annual process of setting spending levels for all discretionary federal programs. While the President's budget theoretically serves as a starting point for Congressional budget discussions . . . Congress is expected to reject most of his proposals. Even so, the Administration's budget still serves as an important framer for the public on Federal investment priorities. The President's budget also annually kicks off the larger conversations on our nation's budget, deficit and debt that Congress and the President need to resolve before year's end. n4a examined the President's budget with special attention given to programs that help older adults remain in their homes and communities. The analysis focuses on key programs that serve older Americans and their caregivers, and is accompanied by n4a's detailed appropriations chart.

 

[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 jspan@jspan.org

 

 

 

Support JSPAN

Remember that JSPAN welcomes your donations to help us continue our important and effective work in Tikkun Olam. You may send gifts and donate using this direct line on www.jspan.org. or to JSPAN, 1735 Market Street, Suite #A417, Philadelphia, PA 19103

 

 

 

Want to Join?
To become a JSPAN member, please go to www.JSPAN.org. On the right side of your screen you will be able to start a secure transaction and become a member.

 

Make all checks payable to:
JSPAN
1735 Market Street, Suite #A417
Philadelphia, PA 19103

 

JSPAN Officers
Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom
President

Richard Malkin
First Vice President

Burt Siegel
Vice President

Marc Stier
Vice President

Jill Katz Zipin
Vice President

Joanna Klein
Secretary

George Pomerantz
Treasurer

Stewart Weintraub
General Counsel

Rabbi George Stern
Executive Director

Directors:
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

 

Publisher:
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.

As an organization for change, JSPAN strives to advance progressive social policies on the critical issues of our time. Help spread the news about us by forwarding this email and the link to our website http://www.jspan.org to your family, friends, and colleagues who might have an interest in joining JSPAN or serving on any of JSPAN's projects. If you haven't joined JSPAN, please join now!

 




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Jewish Social Policy Action Network
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