January 2016


JSPAN Newsletter - January 2016

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: January 2016
Big News! Save the Date: JSPAN to Honor Allyson Schwartz with 11th Social Justice Award
JSPAN is pleased to announce that former U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz will be honored with JSPAN's Social Justice Award. The award will be presented on Thursday, May 12 at the Independence Visitor's Center in Philadelphia, 5:30-7:30 PM. Details to come-in the meantime, put May 12 on your calendar!


JSPAN Board Recognizes Economic Justice as Basic Human Right; Issues New Policy Statement
JSPAN's new Economic Justice Policy Statement, recently approved by the Board of Directors, takes the position that it is imperative that the Jewish community work to right economic wrongs: "Unless our society and our government recognize economic justice as a basic human right, and unless we recognize that investments to move people out of poverty help everyone, we will not achieve the healthy, democratic nation that we want to enjoy for ourselves, our children and their children."

Based on this rationale and our commitment to Jewish values, JSPAN supports public policies that (1) reduce income disparity, including adoption of a living wage; (2) eliminate the gender pay gap and other gender discrepancies in the workplace; (3) invest in job creation and job training, including the rebuilding of infrastructure; (4) eliminate hunger, homelessness, and substandard housing; (5) provide quality, affordable health care for all; (6) protect Social Security; and (7) adequately fund public education. To see the full statement drafted by Board Member William Epstein, click here.


Board Meeting: Meet JSPAN Board Member Audrey Ann Ross
By Edward Hoffman

Who is JSPAN Board Member Audrey Ann Ross and how does she show her commitment to social justice? In this interview, long-time reproductive rights advocate Ross describes to fellow Board Member Ed Hoffman how "tikkun olam" is something long dear to her heart. She incorporates it into what she does every day as communications and community engagement manager at Access Matters, formerly the Family Planning Council, which works to transform access to sexual reproductive health in Philadelphia and the five-county region surrounding the city.


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The Latest on Income Equality from Piketty: They Re-Ran the Numbers and Here's What They Found
The rich are getting richer but income to the poor has increased slightly too. So reported French economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman earlier this month at the American Economic Association conference. These economists, using new methodology, found that instead of slightly declining since the 1970s, as previously reported, average income for Americans in the bottom 90% appears now to have increased slightly. The new data, described in "Think Progress," still shows income inequality widening dramatically over the last half-century. The schism has widened so much that now the top 10 percent of Americans are taking home about half of all the country's income.


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JSPAN Applauds Court's Ruling Upholding PA Gov. Wolf's Death Penalty Reprieve, Consistent with Amicus Brief
In a Letter to the Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, JSPAN applauded the unanimous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Gov. Wolf's grant of reprieve to death-row inmate Terrance Williams. Based on our reading of many Jewish sources and our concern about the moral implications of the death penalty, JSPAN has long opposed capital punishment. We support the Governor's effort to impose an overarching ban on the death penalty. The Court's ruling was consistent with the position taken by JSPAN in its amicus brief in this case filed with the ACLU.


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Philadelphians to Celebrate Jan. 22 Roe v. Wade Anniversary-You're Invited!

Join JSPAN in supporting a woman's right to choose, by celebrating the landmark women's rights decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade. Sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Women's Way, the rally begins at noon at 123 South Broad Street, one block from City Hall, on Friday, Jan. 22.


Philadelphia, Poorest of 10 Biggest Cities: Our Rich Getting Richer at Twice Rate of Poor
By Holly Otterbein
Philadelphia Magazine
Nov. 9, 2015

Philadelphia is the poorest of the 10 biggest cities in the country. At the same time, Bloomberg Business reported recently that the metropolitan area is the 19th richest nationwide.

And now, there's this news: An analysis by City Observatory found that between 2000 and 2010, the median income of the Philadelphia region's wealthy and middle-income neighborhoods grew at about twice the rate of its poorest neighborhoods.


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JSPAN Files Amicus Brief in Case Challenging Ten Commandments Monument at PA Public School
In an amicus brief filed with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, ADL, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Sikh Coalition and Union for Reform Rabbis, JSPAN supports the plaintiffs in a case challenging a six-foot-tall 2000-pound granite Ten Commandments monument displayed near the main entrance to the Valley High School in a the New Kensington-Arnold School District. In this appeal to Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the brief argues that a student's changing schools to avoid the display, as well as the student and parents' earlier interactions with the display, are exactly the types of harms that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

JSPAN Board Member Jeff Pasek represents JSPAN as an amicus in the case captioned Freedom from Religious Foundation v. New Kensington-Arnold School, now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Freedom from Religion Foundation and four New Kensington residents filed suit against the school district, seeking a declaration that the monument is unconstitutional and a permanent injunction directing its removal. To review the amicus brief involving standing to challenge the monument, click here.



What You Can Do Now to Get Out the Vote: Spread the Word about New Online Voter Registration
Hailed as the most significant election reform enacted in Pennsylvania in decades, Gov. Wolf in August launched Online Voter Registration (OVR) to make voter registration in the Commonwealth more convenient, accessible and secure. And it appears to be an immediate success. By the second week in January, more than 61,000 Pennsylvanians had used the online application. It is easier than ever to register or to update your registration. March 28 is the deadline for registering to vote in the April 26 primary. To go to the online voter application, click here.



MLK Day Redux. Take a Listen to The Maccabeats with Naturally7. Delightful.
Naturally7 teamed up with Yeshiva University a cappella group, The Maccabeats to record a tribute for Martin Luther King Jr. Day-their version of James Taylor's "Shed a Little Light." It can be downloaded from iTunes.

Or click the link below to watch the video of the two groups singing together on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Delightful.


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JSPAN Executive Director Takes JSPAN Black Lives Matter Policy to MLK Day Celebration
JSPAN's newly released Policy Statement "Why 'Black Lives Matter' Matters to JSPAN," was the focus of remarks that JSPAN Executive Director Rabbi George Stern made at the NAACP and Philadelphia Black Clergy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. The Celebration was held at Bright Hope Baptist Church, an especially fitting venue because Dr. King had spoken at the Church's groundbreaking ceremony in 1963. To review Rabbi Stern's and JSPAN's Policy Statement, click here.


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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:
1735 Market Street, Suite #A417
Philadelphia, PA 19103


JSPAN Officers
Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom

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

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
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


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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