February 21, 2014


JSPAN Newsletter - February 21, 2014

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: February 21, 2014
Jewish Perspectives on Income Inequality in America - Sunday, March 2
Economic justice for all people in America is a goal we have not achieved yet but must keep fighting for. JSPAN and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College will initiate programming on this important subject with two programs this coming month.

On March 2, at 7:30 p.m, JSPAN will host a showing of Robert Reich's film, "Inequality For All" at Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street (at Lincoln Drive) in Philadelphia.

On March 9, also at 7:30 p.m., also at Germantown Jewish Centre, there will be a panel discussion about the film and about economic inequality in the United States. The panel will include Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Benjamin Peck, Federal Affairs Manager for DEMOS, the progressive public policy organization, and Ilene Wasserman as moderator.

Cosponsors of the JSPAN and RRC program include Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Congregation Temple Beth El, Germantown Jewish Centre, Leyv Ha-Ir, Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim and Society Hill Synagogue.

For more information contact Shelley Rappaport, JSPAN Administrator, at 215-292-9575.


New Executive Director for JSPAN
Rabbi George Stern has been invited by the Board of Directors to become the Executive Director of JSPAN beginning March 1, 2014. Stern came to the agency in early 2013 and demonstrated his skill in working with a large team of volunteers by bringing the Strategic Plan Project to successful fruition. In June of last year, when the Strategic Plan was formally adopted, Stern was elected President.

Rabbi Stern previously served as Executive Director of the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM), an alliance of 58 congregations and faith-based institutions. He was the rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Upper Nyack, NY for 27 years. More recently he was coordinator of a senior citizen initiative in Center City Philadelphia. Stern was Board President of My Way, which provides assistance to older adults "aging in place," a board member of West Mt. Airy Neighbors, and is a blogger for Historic Germantown. George is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University, holds a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew Letters and received rabbinical ordination from New York's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

When George moves into his new staff role, Executive Vice President Deborah Weinstein will take over as acting head of the agency. She is a practicing lawyer with her own firm, heavily engaged in employment law. A master teacher and trainer, for the past 15 years, she has taught employment law as a lecturer at the Wharton Business School's Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics. She developed the innovative employment law course, The Law at Work: Employment Law for Managers.

Weinstein has been active in civic affairs over many years, chairing the Philadelphia Bar Association's Board of Governors, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Association's renowned magazine, The Philadelphia Lawyer, establishing the human resources committee of the Business Law Section and chairing the Association's labor and employment, diversity, and women in the profession committees.

Ms. Weinstein holds an M.S.W. degree and a J.D. magna cum laude from Temple University School of Law. - Ed.


We Make a Difference: Justice Department Cites JSPAN Brief
Among the most important cases on the United States Supreme Court docket for its 2014 Term are the paired Conestoga and Hobby Lobby appeals. In these cases, for profit corporations seek to avoid the obligation to provide health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for all FDA approved contraceptive methods, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The corporations claim that the law violates their right to the free exercise of their religions. Our newsletter two weeks ago reported that JSPAN filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the health insurance mandate - one of many submitted on all sides of the issue. Last week the Department of Justice filed its reply brief, also supporting the mandate. At two points in its brief, DOJ singled out and cited the Court to arguments in our JSPAN brief, thus highlighting the importance of our effort to participate in religious freedom and other First Amendment cases.

The brief is available at https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief-reproductive-freedom/sebelius-v-hobby-lobby-stores-conestoga-wood-specialties-cor-11.



JSPAN Adopts New Minimum Wage Policy
At its Board Of Directors meeting on February 17 JSPAN revised and updated its policy on the pressing need to increase the minimum wage set by the federal government, and linking it to the Consumer Price Index. The updated policy concludes: An increase in the federal minimum wage would allow men and women in entry-level jobs to be less reliant on government and private assistance programs and to become more self-sufficient. It would restore buying power to low wage workers, increasing consumer demand and economic growth. In addition, linking the minimum wage to the annual Consumer Price Index would reflect changing economic conditions. The detailed memorandum approved by the Board is posted at the JSPAN web site. - Ed.


Raise That Wage
By Paul Krugman
New York Times
Feb. 17, 2014

President Obama laid out a number of good ideas in his State of the Union address. Unfortunately, almost all of them would require spending money - and given Republican control of the House of Representatives, it's hard to imagine that happening.

One major proposal, however, wouldn't involve budget outlays: the president's call for a rise in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9, with subsequent increases in line with inflation. The question we need to ask is: Would this be good policy? And the answer, perhaps surprisingly, is a clear yes.


[read more]


Why Do Women's Salaries Still Lag Behind? Wharton Statistician Explains How He Crunched the Numbers
By Abraham Wyner
The Jewish Daily Forward
December 20, 2013

I was reading the Forward last year when a headline caught my attention: "Women Still Lag Behind." The story compared the salaries of female and male CEOs of Jewish not-for-profit organizations, finding that the women's median salary was only 66% that of men's. The obvious conclusion is that women are underpaid.

As a statistician, I was hesitant to leap to such a conclusion. (A word of advice: Never read a newspaper with a statistician - we are a suspicious bunch.)

Comparisons are indeed tricky. There is no doubt that men, on average, earn more than women. However, the organizations that men and women lead may be very different. These differences, and not sex discrimination, may be leading to the salary gap. Perhaps a careful statistical analysis would uncover a more revealing and nuanced reality.


[read more]



Studying, Aiding the Long-Term Unemployed
By Tana Goldberg
The Jewish Journal
February 13, 2014

MIT Professor Ofer Sharone was at the White House on January 31 when President Barack Obama signed a pledge that the federal government, along with 300 major companies, will not discriminate against the unemployed when hiring. ...

Sharone is currently conducting his own research on LTU [long term unemployment]. He has a dual mission to support LTU people by matching them with pro bono counselors, and to track the outcomes of the most promising forms of support.

When he began looking for job seekers for his study, Sharone focused on LTU white-collar workers, ages 40-65. But he quickly found that 83 percent of the 800 people who applied for help through his study were over 50.

"Long-term unemployment is really a major issue for older people," he said.

[read more]


For More than 25 Years, it's Never been the Right Time for Immigration Reform
By David Nakamura
The Washington Post
Published: February 15, 2013

Thirteen years ago, President George W. Bush welcomed Vicente Fox of Mexico to Washington to lay the groundwork for an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws - sensing that fellow Republicans were finally ready to go along with a new legalization effort.

The push included a rare address to Congress on Sept. 6, 2001, when Fox declared that immigrants "invariably enrich the cultural life of the land that receives them."

Five days later, jetliners hijacked by foreign terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, heightening security fears and scuttling Bush's immigration plans.

For more than a quarter century, it has never been the right time for immigration reform. And the biggest stumbling block always seems to be concerns, primarily among conservatives, that border controls are not tough enough and must be strengthened further before anything else can be done.


[read more]


The Keystone XL Pipeline: Should the President Approve Construction?
by Michael B. McElroy
Harvard Magazine
November-December 2013

FEW DOMESTIC POLICY ISSUES have prompted more controversy recently than whether to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Proponents contend that it would enhance access to Canadian oil, significantly increasing U.S. and North American energy security. Opponents counter that the pipeline, by opening a long-term channel to market for abundant, carbon-rich, Canadian tar-sands oil, would sharply accelerate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), with global climate consequences that would be simply unacceptable. As climate scientist James Hansen said of the company proposing to build the pipeline, "Once the spigot is open, Trans Canada will have every incentive to milk the massive tar-sands basin for all that it is worth."

Because the pipeline will transit the Canada-U.S. border, construction requires an affirmative decision by the U.S. State Department-and ultimately by the president. In his June 25 speech on climate policy, President Barack Obama defined the ground rules he proposes to follow in reaching a decision: "allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in the nation's interest. And our national interest will be served only if the project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." How seriously should we take the goal of North American energy independence-and can exploitation of the Canadian resource contribute consequentially? ...

Aggressive commitments by Canadian authorities to reduce the greenhouse-gas footprint of tar-sands development, combined with the initiatives already announced by the president to reduce U.S. national emissions, can minimize environmental damage. From the U.S. perspective, there are sound economic and security reasons to encourage development of the Canadian resource. Subject to the conditions noted here, I would recommend that the Keystone XL project should be approved.


[read more]

Michael B. McElroy is the Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at Harvard University. Vigorous debate continues on his article and the Keystone Project.


The Search for the Lost Nazi Diary
By Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times
February 6, 2014

Henry Mayer, who helps maintain the collection of artifacts at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, knew a diary had been kept by Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi Party's chief ideologue and a confidant of Adolf Hitler. Mayer, son of a Holocaust survivor, made it his mission to find the long-lost journal kept by Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi Party's chief ideologue and a confidant of Adolf Hitler.

Henry Mayer had long heard of the lost Nazi diary.

Mayer helped maintain the vast collection of artifacts at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and knew the diary had been kept by Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi Party's chief ideologue and a confidant of Adolf Hitler.

The diary was found in the final days of World War II, hidden behind a false wall in a Bavarian castle. Excerpts were introduced into evidence at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Then the 425-page diary disappeared.

Half a century later, Mayer, the son of a Holocaust survivor, made it his mission to find it.

[read more]



Equality Pennsylvania Holds Kickoff Meetings
In preparation for an effort to secure broad legislation equalizing LGBT rights, Equality Pennsylvania is holding a series of organizational meetings across the state. On March 5 at 7 pm one of the series will be held at Congregation Beth Or, 239 East Welsh Road, Ambler, PA. - Ed.



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JSPAN Officers
Rabbi George Stern

Deborah Weinstein
First Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Richard I. Malkin
M.D., Vice President

Kenneth R. Myers
Vice President

Burt Siegel
Vice President

Jay Meadway

David Gutin
Assistant Treasurer

Joanna Klein

Jeffrey Pasek
Policy Center Chair

Stewart Weintraub
General Counsel

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
Hon. Ruth Damsker
William Epstein
Brian Gralnick
Margot Horwitz
Adrienne Jacoby Ph.D.
Hon. Babette Josephs
Nathan Kleinman
Marlena Kleit
Ruth Laibson
Theodore Mann
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz M.D.
Dan Segal
Marc Stier Ph.D.
Rabbi David Straus
Ilene Wasserman Ph.D.
Lynn G. Zeitlin
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Marlena Kleit
Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Deborah Weinstein

Ira Goldberg




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