JSPAN Names New Director

JSPAN Newsletter - January 28, 2011

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: January 28, 2011
JSPAN Names New Director
We are delighted to welcome Ruthanne Madway as the new Director of JSPAN, beginning February 1.

Ruthanne is an accomplished civic entrepreneur who founded the East of Broad Improvement Association (EBA), a non-profit dedicated to the economic revitalization of the East of Broad District in Center City Philadelphia. She served as Executive Director of EBA for 11 years, leading it in its highly successful efforts in improving the neighborhood east of the Avenue of the Arts. Prior to that, she was Founder and President of Washwest Neighbors. Her experience in building community coalitions, developing programming and advocating public policy will lend itself to tasks important to JSPAN.

We look forward to a long and productive partnership between our new Director and our organization!


The New Congress’s Task
The Forward, January 14, 2011

The fact is that neither [the Democratic nor Republican] party has an unfettered mandate to act as it sees fit. And yet that’s how they’ve been behaving for years. The result is endless warfare. Sometimes one side gains ground, leaving the other side more determined than ever to win it back, as we’re seeing in the health care wars. More often, they fight each other to a standstill, as they’ve done on energy and climate, immigration, job creation and the ever-growing deficit. They act like a pair of aging boxers, one moment locked together too tightly to move, the next moment taking turns whacking each other. It keeps the players and their fans entertained, but it leaves the public out in the cold.


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State of the Union
President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday announced the Administration’s policies for the next two years. Here are excerpts pertinent to JSPAN’s social action agenda (in the order of their appearance). – Ed.

Energy: …we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. …With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. … Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all …

Education: [A]s many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is … to give every child a chance to succeed.

When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. … it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. … the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that's more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.


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Abortion Rights - Keep Your Eyes on the States
Comment by Lynn Zeitlin, Esq. JSPAN Board Member

The 2010 election is seen as giving Republicans in Congress the power to prevent even indirect public funding for abortions and bills are expected to be introduced that will restrict or even ban insurance coverage in the healthcare reform exchanges. The biggest shift, however, is in the control of state capitols with 29 governors considered anti-abortion, a gain of eight. Fifteen states now have both governors and legislatures in the anti-abortion camp compared with 10 last year. Florida’s previous governor vetoed a bill requiring women to view an ultrasound while a doctor described the fetus, but Florida’s newly elected governor campaigned against that veto and is expected to support a new bill if passed.

A 2007 United States Supreme Court decision is emboldening states to enact more restrictive laws. In Gonzales v. Carhart , the Court for the first time upheld a federal ban on late term abortions where the law did not contain an exception for threat to the woman’s health.

Using the Gonzalez decision as a roadmap, the Nebraska speaker of the legislature sought and won passage this past spring of a law banning all abortions after 20 weeks. This is first time a state has outlawed the procedure so early in pregnancy and without an exception for the health of the woman.


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What Makes Faith-Based Social Services Work
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Jim Evans, in a recent column at EthicsDaily.com, wondered if religion really works in reference to faith-based social service agencies. … In fact, the research backs up Evans' position. Faith-based prison programs are not working like everyone would like. Nor do faith-based welfare-to-work programs do any better than non-faith-based programs - except ours and others like ours. But it is not faith or lack of it exclusively in a program that makes it a success or failure. Successful programs exhibit at least one strong partnership between the faith-based organization and other community-based agencies or services.

To be sure, it takes a faith community to create a successful outreach ministry, but it takes the entire community - believers, different believers and non-believers alike, often working in partnerships on behalf of their congregation, agency or organization - to achieve success. This success most often is bonded in some form of collaboration with governmental or nonprofit organizations, universities, businesses or civic groups in long-lasting partnerships. Each partner focuses on different aspects of helping the "downtrodden fish."


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Arizona Tries New Tack Against Health Law
Washington Post, January 24, 2011

Republican efforts to repeal or limit the reach of the new health-care law took a new direction last week when Arizona lawmakers approved a novel and controversial attempt to cut Medicaid for 280,000 of the state's poor. The bill, requested and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), empowers her to make a formal request, most likely this week, for a federal waiver to avoid complying with provisions of the law that prohibit states from tightening their eligibility requirements for Medicaid.

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Global Warming: Lake Kinneret Suffering from Water Shortage
by Ehud Zion Waldoks and JPOST.com staff - Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2011

The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry will issue temporary fishing licenses to Lake Kinneret fisherman until final decisions are made regarding the problem of dwindling fish stocks in the lake.

The temporary licenses will be valid until February 28, 2011, in order to allow the Knesset Economic Committee ample time to discuss the issue.


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From Tel Aviv to Amman
Jane Eisner, Editor's Notebook, The Forward, January 21, 2011

It took a mere 45 minutes to fly from Tel Aviv to Amman on a recent family vacation. For those of us old enough to remember when Israel and Jordan were mortal enemies, the sheer normalcy of boarding an airplane in one country and landing in another in the same amount of time that it can take to go by subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn is nothing short of remarkable.

It took six hours to travel the roughly 70 miles in the opposite direction, from Amman to Tel Aviv, over land. This is where “normalcy” assumes a different definition, in which inexplicable delays, confusion, roadblocks and security searches are the rule.

On an airplane, the cold peace that has characterized relations between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan since the treaty of 1994 is a barely noticed chill. On the ground, it is a frigid blast.


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Palestinian Authority Closely Coordinates Security Operations with Israel
Haaretz, January 26, 2011

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera television revealed Tuesday extensive cooperation between Israel's security services and those of the Palestinian Authority. The so-called 'Palestine papers,' leaked documents on Middle East negotiations, revealed that Israel and the PA held various meetings on security issues. One document details how Israel and the PA planned together an assassination of a commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.


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Bitter Fight Over Funding Leads to Power Shift at Magen David Adom
Nathan Guttman, The Forward, February 4, 2011

The dispute between the two groups stems from a basic lack of trust between the leadership in the U.S. and in Israel. The American organization, which raises over $20 million a year for the Israeli group, has installed restrictions on the way Israel’s MDA can use the funds, essentially making sure the money goes directly to contractors, not to the Israeli organization. Sources within AFMDA have pointed in the past to an ongoing criminal investigation against Eli Bin, the CEO of Israel’s MDA, as one reason for the mistrust. Bin and MDA’s chief financial officer Ofer Dan were arrested on June 29 and accused of tax evasions totaling in 175 million Shekels ($46 million).


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JSPAN Officers
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Kenneth Fox
Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

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Stewart Weintraub
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Alex Urevick
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Mike Weilbacher
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Ira Goldberg




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