Hanukah Greetings

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue: Hanukah Greetings



Newsletter: December 3, 2010
JSPAN leads coalition of religious groups before the Supreme Court
Once again JSPAN has taken the lead by filing a friend of the court brief in an important immigration case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Acting on behalf of Jewish, Catholic and Lutheran organizations, as well as Human Rights USA, JSPAN urged the Court to grant review of a decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The case arose when a Christian woman sought asylum claiming that she would be subject to persecution if she returned to her native Indonesia. Her claim was initially denied and she was ordered to leave the country. She filed a motion to reopen the proceedings which the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) granted in a very favorable opinion. By then, however, she had already left the country under the departure order. When the BIA learned of this, it dismissed her appeal. The Court of Appeals upheld this result based on a regulation that the court held to deprive the BIA of jurisdiction.

JSPAN filed its brief because the lower court’s decision creates a perverse Catch 22 for individuals seeking asylum. If their appeal rights are extinguished if they leave the country under a deportation order, their best hope of having their cases heard is to go into hiding. The regulation effectively encourages non-citizens to violate the law in order to have their cases fully adjudicated. An asylum seeker should not be put to this choice.

In its brief, JSPAN noted that the United States plays a vital role throughout the world by resisting religious persecution and protecting its victims. The regulation potentially affects all refuges to this country and the courts of appeals are split on its validity. Almost half of the refugees in this country are subject to one set of rules, while the other half are subject to another set of rules. JSPAN urged the Supreme Court to grant full review of the case to provide for a consistent interpretation of the law that did not produce the illogical consequences of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling.

Joining in JSPAN’s brief were the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Pennsylvania Province, Lutheran Children and Family Service of Eastern Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia, the Shalom Center and the World Organization for Human Rights USA. JSPAN’s brief was written by Rachel Fendell and Jeffrey Pasek from the Cozen O’Connor law firm with assistance from JSPAN Vice President Judah Labovitz.

To view a copy of the JSPAN brief click here.
To view a copy of the certiorari petition in Estalita v. Holder, click here.







Brouhaha Over Bris
Judges always come out on top and lawyers suffer every indignity when it comes to scheduling cases for trial. But one lawyer took on the system. Bennett Epstein wrote Federal District Court Judge Kimba Wood the attached short course in the covenant of the bris, including an even shorter course in Yiddish expletives. The Judge granted relief but insisted on equal time if the grandchild turned out to be a girl. Post script: the baby came, the case was recessed, and a bris ensued.

To view the letter to Judge Kimba, click here.


Ex-Justice Criticizes Death Penalty
Originally appeared in the New York Times on November 27, 2010

WASHINGTON — In 1976, just six months after he joined the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment after a four-year moratorium. With the right procedures, he wrote, it is possible to ensure “evenhanded, rational and consistent imposition of death sentences under law.”

In 2008, two years before he announced his retirement, Justice Stevens reversed course and in a concurrence said that he now believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional.

But the reason for that change of heart, after more than three decades on the court and some 1,100 executions, has in many ways remained a mystery, and now Justice Stevens has provided an explanation.


[read more]






Help Magen David Adom's Efforts to Combat Blaze
In light of the breaking news of a devastating fire in northern Israel, JSPAN encourages its members and readers to donate to Magen David Adom. The blaze, which has been reported as the largest and deadliest in Israel's history, has left 40 individuals dead and has consumed the Carmel Forest.

Click here to make your donation today.


U.S. report highlights Israel’s religious freedoms violations
Originally published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on November 17, 2010

Government allocations favoring the Orthodox, extra legal protection to Jewish holy sites and Orthodox hegemony over life-cycle events are among Israel's religious freedom violations highlighted in a U.S. State Department report.

The International Religious Freedom Report 2009 released Wednesday placed Israel in the section with countries "where violations of religious freedom have been noteworthy." Israel is in the same section as such countries as Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq and Sudan. Another section of the report highlights countries, some in the violators group, where positive developments have been seen; Israel does not appear in that category.

While Israel's Basic Law describes the country as a Jewish and democratic state, "Government policy continued to support the generally free practice of religion, although governmental and legal discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism continued," according to the report.


[read more]






Exposing the ‘Partnership Covenant for Religionless’
Originally appeared in the November 22, 2010 edition of the Jerusalem Post

Not only does this law not provide an alternative to marriage in the rabbinic establishment, it fortifies religious coercion and the Orthodox monopoly over family life.


[read more




The Holy Land: A Moving Map
At Hanukah we celebrate a victory, in the second century b.c.e., of the Maccabees over Antiochus IV, Emperor of the Seleucid Empire sprung from the earlier Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great. The animated map of empires (linked below) suffers from issues of simplification, approximation and political viewpoint. But it tells a 5000 year history of the eventful crossroads we call the Middle East.




Untenable Judicial Ethics
Originally published in the November 27, 2010 edition of the New York Times

When Pennsylvania’s Chief Justice Ronald Castille came to New York City’s Waldorf Astoria last December for the 111th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Society, a booster club for the state, a law firm picked up the $1,900 tab. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, that is one of many gifts of dinners, event tickets, golf outings and plane rides the chief justice has gotten, some from people with cases decided by his court.

Because the chief justice reported the gifts, the favors were not illegal. By the court’s standard, they were not unethical either. The court says it has the power to establish rules of ethics for state lawyers and judges. All state judges (not dealing with minor cases) can accept any gifts if they disclose them.


[read more]





Jewish Voters, Obama and the Great Elephant Hunt
by J.J. Goldberg
Originally published in the November 10, 2010 edition of the Forward.

Looking at the midterm election results, even a casual observer can find any number of obvious, unavoidable lessons about the state of our nation. For all the Republican chest-thumping and Democratic breast-beating in the election’s aftermath, it’s hard to miss the core truths that were exposed: the intensity of the economic distress, the depth of public frustration with politicians and the crippling extremity of politicians’ own polarization.

Here’s another lesson, not quite as obvious: the depth of the schism that’s increasingly dividing American Jews from one another — and from Israel. We’ve known for some time that we are growing apart in many ways, liberals from conservatives, Orthodox from Reform, Zionists from human rights activists. Now, with little warning, we’re finding that the various little fissures are merging to form a great, yawning chasm.


[read more]





Focus on Sudan's political referendum obscures trouble in Darfur
Originally published in the November 19, 2010 edition of the Washington Post

Reports are trickling in of increasing government-supported violence against Darfuris, deteriorating humanitarian conditions and widespread attacks on war-torn Darfur's beleaguered civil society. But the world has done little to acknowledge, much less address, this rapidly declining situation. Preparations for the North-South political referendum, which has potential for huge bloodletting, are sucking up all the oxygen. Even if Sudan peacefully splits, Darfur is headed for humanitarian and political purgatory.


[read more]




Support the post office....
A woman goes to the post office to buy stamps for her Hanukah cards.

She says to the clerk, "May I have 50 Hanukah stamps?"
The clerk says, "What denomination?"
"Oh my God," the woman says, "has it come to this? Give me 16 Orthodox, 22 Conservative, and 12 Reform."


Oh Hanukah Comes Out of the Kitchen
1.Each Chanukah we glorify Brave Judah
Who had the courage to defy Antiochus, and
free us.
Yet it is not fair that we should forget
Mrs. Maccabeus, to whom we owe a debt.
She mixed it
She fixed it
She poured it into a bowl
(You many NOT guess
But it was the LATkes
That gave brave Judah a soul)
Repeat last three lines

2.The Syrians said: It cannot be that old
Whose years are more than 83 will dare to
defy us!
But they didn't know his secret you see
Mattathias dined on latkes and tea.
One latke
Two latkes
And so on into the night
( You may NOT guess
But it was the Latkes
That gave him courage to fight)
Repeat last three lines

3.Now this is how it came about this
gastronomic wonder
That broke the ranks of Syria like flaming
bolts of thunder
Mrs. Maccabeus wrote in the dough
Portions of the Torah and fried them just so.
They shimmered
They glimmered
Absorbing the olive oil
( You may NOT guess
But it was the Latkes
That made the Syrians recoil.)
Repeat the last three lines

4. Now these little latkes brown and delicious
Must have hit the spot ?cause with appetites
All the heroes downed them after their toil
Causing in our temple a shortage of oil.
One latke
Two latkes
And so on into the night
( You may NOT guess
But it was the Latkes
That gave us the Chanukah light)
Repeat the last three lines





Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah


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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.

Kenneth Myers

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.