Hold The Line On Snap (Food Stamps)

JSPAN Newsletter - November 29, 2013

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue: Kindle the Light of Social Justice on Hanukkah
Newsletter: November 29, 2013
A Message from JSPAN President Rabbi George Stern: Hold the Line on SNAP (Food Stamps)
By the time you read this, we'll be well into our celebration of Chanukah. Do you know why the holiday lasts 8 days? Forget, if you will, the oil story. It's actually because the Jews had been unable to celebrate Sukkot, due to the desecration of the Temple, so when they retook the building, they declared a late Sukkot. And Sukkot, as you know, is the biblical basis for the American celebration of Thanksgiving.

By now, you have hopefully exercised away most of the weight you put on celebrating Thanksgiving (exacerbated this year by latkes). If you have not already done so, I hope you'll take a few minutes now to focus on one of the most terrible truths in these United States: that millions of children, senior citizens, vets, and other adults go to bed hungry, and their plight is getting worse. Starting with the sequester and now exacerbated by proposals in both houses' versions of the Farm Bill (the House bill is especially egregious), Congress has eviscerated the food stamp program (SNAP), one of the few remaining parts of our once sturdy safety net. Please, please let your public officials know that harming the most vulnerable among us is simply not acceptable. Click here for details about the cuts and contact information for your Senators and Representatives.


Save These Dates for JSPAN Events: MLK Day and Reich Film, Inequality for All
MLK Day Panel Discussion on Mass Incarceration. In recognition of Martin Luther King Day 2104, JSPAN, the Cheltenham Area Branch of the NAACP and Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel will co-sponsor a panel discussion exploring the topic of mass incarceration on Monday, Jan. 20 from 7:30-9p.m. at Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA. Stay tuned for announcement of speakers and additional information.

Income Inequality in America. Plan now to attend JSPAN's 2014 community forums focusing on the issue of income/wealth inequality in our country. Mark your calendar to view former U.S. Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Reich's film, Inequality for All, on the evening of March 2, and a follow-up panel discussion on March 9, both at Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street, Philadelphia. More details to follow.


Kindle the Light of Social Justice as You Kindle the Lights of Chanukah
For Hanukkah 2013, there is a cornucopia of new resources to help you celebrate Hanukkah as a social justice holiday and to bring holiday humor, fun and nostalgia into your home. Checkout some of our top pics below:

Religious Action Committee provides a comprehensive guide to a Social Justice Hanukah at http://rac.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=1270&destination=ShowItem

American Jewish World Service includes in its compilation of Hanukkah resources the connection between the holiday and tikkum olam, "Got Gelt? Giving in This Season of Receiving" at http://ajws.org/what_we_do/education/holiday.html?holiday=chanukah

Tablet rounds up the latest resources for Hanukkah 2013-everything from contemporary holiday recipes to the "Only Hanukkah Video to Watch" at http://www.tabletmag.com/tag/hanukkah

The American Jewish World Service takes us down memory lane (December 16, 1949) to remind us of how Hanukkah in American looked almost 64 'years ago today,' http://www.jta.org/1949/12/16/archive/hanukkah-celebrations-started-u-s-jewish-leaders-explain-significance-of-holiday

And for the thick-skinned among us, check out Stephen Colbert's inimitable exploration of the social justice implications of Hanukkah and its unlikely synergy with Thanksgiving. See the video and read the description from the Jerusalem Post at http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/WATCH-Stephen-Colbert-laments-Thanksgivukkah-328588


Bipartisan Pennsylvania Bill: Merit Selection of Appellate Judges
By Kenneth R. Myers (JSPAN Vice President)
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
November 16, 2013

A bill to bring merit selection of appellate judges to Pennsylvania has been submitted in the State House of Representatives with a bipartisan sponsorship this week.

Pennsylvania State Representatives Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County) and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) introduced the bill, which received immediate support from Pennsylvania's current governor Tom Corbett (R) and previous two governors, Ed Rendell (D) and Tom Ridge (R), as well as the League of Women Voters and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.

The bill by Cutler and Sims would establish merit selection for appeal court judges only, while retaining the present method of judicial elections for all other courts and justices of the peace. Affected would be future judges of the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court and Pennsylvania Supreme Court.


[read more]

JSPAN ENDORSES MERIT SELECTION OF APPELLATE JUDGES, a position reached by our Board of Directors after hearing from retired judges on both sides. To learn more about changing the way we select judges in Pennsylvania, visit the merit selection page on the website of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts at www.pmc.org -Ed.


Living for 32, Film about Gun Violence, with Discussion Led by Shira Goodman
Congregation Beth Or invites members of the community to a screening of Living for 32, a film about the 32 people murdered in the tragic Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. The film tells the story of a survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings who played a unique role in the horrific drama that played out. He was the only person within the building to call the police.

The film will be shown on December 11 at 7 p.m. at Congregation Beth Or, 239 Welsh Road, Maple Glen. Following the movie, a discussion about gun violence and related issues will be led by Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA.org. Refreshments will be served.

Living for 32 is appropriate for adults and children ages 13 and over. You can learn more about the movie at www.livingfor32.com. For more information about this event, contact info@bethor.org or call 215-646-5806.

JSPAN has endorsed and joined the efforts of CeaseFirePA to improve control of illegal guns, both through better state laws and through municipal ordinances being adopted throughout the state. - Ed.


Fast Action
By Secretary Tom Perez
(Work in Progress) Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor
November 22, 2013

In 1968, in the thick of the farmworkers' struggle to gain basic rights and relief from brutal mistreatment, Cesar Chavez didn't just march or strike or demonstrate - he fasted in order to raise awareness about his movement and highlight the importance of nonviolent resistance. Today, a new generation of activists is going without all food except water - this time to bring attention to the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.

I visited the fasters yesterday on the National Mall, where they are camped out in tents. I was moved by their conviction and their moral clarity. They regard their discomfort as a mere inconvenience compared to the suffering of those living on the margins, often separated from their families and stripped of basic dignity.

With 11 million people living in the shadows, toiling in an underground, exploitative economy that depresses wages and working conditions for everyone, the immigration status quo is intolerable and unconscionable. Fixing it is a humanitarian and economic imperative. We are indeed a nation of immigrants. People who choose to come to America have always been one of our greatest sources of national vitality.


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JSPAN supports the reform of our immigration system, most recently through endorsement of the reforms contained in the proposed DREAM Act in 2012. We look forward with the hope that our leaders in Congress will achieve the advancements contained in that earlier Bill. For more information and to learn how you can advocate for immigration reform, contact the Pennsylvania and Citizenship Coalition at http://paimmigrant.org/programs/immigration-reform. -Ed.  

If You're a Millennial, Black, or Latino, Good Luck Voting Quickly in 2016
By Dana Liebelson
Mother Jones
November 19, 2013

When I voted last year in downtown Washington, DC, I was able to walk down the street, cast my ballot, and get back to the office in less than 30 minutes. But according to a new report by two voting rights groups, the Advancement Project and OurTime.org, plenty of American voters weren't so lucky. According to their research, African Americans, Latinos, and millennials in Virginia and Florida-two key battleground states-faced significantly longer wait times than older white voters in 2012. This was largely because the former groups are more inclined to utilize early voting, which was restricted in both states last year. And according to the report, this new "time tax"-along with other voting obstacles, like strict ID laws-will likely continue to dampen voter turnout among these groups in 2016.

"Regarding the number of people willing to wait in line to vote in 2012, there were others who didn't vote, and there is no guarantee that voters will always be able to wait so long to exercise their fundamental rights," says Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director of Advancement Project's Voter Protection Program. The report makes the case that young voters have less flexibility with their work schedules, and when early voting days are cut, as they were in Florida, lines get longer. Millennials (defined in the report as people between the ages of 18 and 29) are also more racially diverse than the rest of the population, meaning that there is often an overlap between young voters and voters of color. This 2013 MIT report found that voters of color are also more likely to wait in line than white voters.


[read more]


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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

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Deborah Weinstein

Ira Goldberg




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