JSPAN Newsletter -Spring Issue

JSPAN Newsletter - April 20, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

Spring Issue
Newsletter: April 20, 2012
JSPAN Establishes New Policy Center on Aging
JSPAN announces the launch of its new Policy Center on Aging. The JSPAN Policy Center on Aging reflects the organization's commitment to the advancement of public policy that combats ageism and improves the lives of older adults by fostering their ability to live healthy, engaged lives; by protecting their civil rights; and by maximizing the quality of their lives and ability to enjoy independence. Under the leadership of Board Member Deborah Weinstein, Esquire and JSPAN Chair Brian Gralnick, the new Center will analyze and address legislation and government policy in six key areas relating to aging: work, retirement, health, community development, legal issues and services.

To learn more about the Policy Center on Aging, go to the JSPAN website by clicking here.


Age Discrimination: Do Not Close Your Eyes
As JSPAN formally enters the policy arena related to aging, this edition of the Newsletter appropriately includes the following article exploring the Jewish imperative to concern ourselves with ageism and public policy related to aging. - Ed.

By Rabbi Ben Greenberg, Orthodox Jewish Chaplain, Harvard University
Huffington Blog Post
April 9, 2012

It began as a weekend job while in college, a way to earn a few extra dollars, but became much more. Every Friday morning for three years I boarded a Metro-North train from New York and journeyed to Connecticut where I served as a weekend rabbi in a Jewish nursing home. I led Shabbat services, taught a weekly class on the Torah portion, shared meals with the residents and what was initially a part-time position transformed into a radically eye-opening experience.

The residents of that nursing home taught me to see the world in a way that I have carried with me ever since my days there. They introduced me to how society infantilizes the elderly and makes them feel useless and unwanted. The residents of that nursing home had struggled, fought and persevered through World War I, the Great Depression and World War II and yet people half their age treated them as if they had no wisdom and no life experience to offer. Furthermore, they faced significant obstacles to finding employment in a work culture that favored the young over the old. This discrimination was pervasive in every sector of the work force.

[read more]


JSPAN Communicates Support to DOL for Proposed FLSA Regs for Home Health Workers
Richard Malkin, MD, Chair of JSPAN's Healthcare and Bioethics Policy Center, recently wrote to the U.S. Department of Labor to communicate the organization's support for proposed amendments to the Companionship and Live-In Worker Regulations. The proposed regulations would extend protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act to many home caregivers not currently covered by the Act. After a comprehensive review by the Healthcare and Bioethics Policy Center, the JSPAN Board voted in favor of support for the proposed regulatory change. Dr. Malkin's letter is posted at jspan.org. - Ed.


Op-Ed: Oppose Church Divestment from Israel
As described in the article below, at the upcoming United Methodist Church quadrennial General Conference and the meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA), resolutions will be presented as to whether to divest holdings from three American companies because of their business dealings with Israel. Approximately 1200 rabbis from across American Judaism have signed on to a letter letting the delegates know of the rabbis' opposition to divestment and why it is both immoral and counterproductive. The signatories, from 49 states, include rabbis who are leaders of synagogue movements, rabbinical bodies, and seminaries affiliated with the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Reform movements. This tremendous effort was organized by Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) with support from the Israel Action Network (IAN) under the leadership of JCPA Vice-President Ethan Felson. Thank you to JSPAN Board Member Ted Mann for bringing this to our attention noting that "when over a thousand Rabbis sign on to such a superb letter, it's news." The letter is posted at www.letterinhope.org. - Ed.

By Noam E. Marans
Jewish Telegraphic Service
April 3, 2012

NEW YORK (JTA) -- As Christians and Jews gather during their respective Easter and Passover holidays, we should recall all that Jews and liberal Protestants in America share and have accomplished together. But pride in the past should not blind us to the danger that this relationship could be derailed by pernicious responses to the Arab-Israeli conflict within certain churches.

Hard-earned goodwill between quintessentially American religious groups may be undermined in a fleeting moment when unbalanced -- and ultimately meaningless -- divestment resolutions and overtures depicting Israel as perpetrating apartheid are introduced for a vote at national meetings of church bodies. At this time American Jews should turn to their Methodist and Presbyterian neighbors and communicate how central Israel is to their Jewish identity. They should explain how hurtful it is that, yet again, some leaders in the United Methodist Church -- at their general conference in April -- and Presbyterian Church (USA) -- at their general assembly in July -- will be calling for divestment and demonizing Israel.

[read more]


Abington Township Passes Nondiscrimination Law 10-5; Becomes 28th PA Municipality to Ban Discrimination
In the April 5, 2012 issue of the JSPAN Newsletter, we announced JSPAN's support for passage of a then-proposed ordinance establishing a human relations commission for Abington Township and prohibiting, inter alia, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual identity and sexual expression. As reported below, a majority of Abington Township Commissioners agreed and the ordinance has been passed. - Ed.

By Mischa Arnosky
April 12, 2012
Posted on Abington Patch

Late last night, the Abington Township Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, sexual identity or sexual expression. It also establishes a human relations commission.

The ordinance passed 10-5.

Commissioners Richard Gaglianese, Dennis Zappone, John O'Connor, Carol Gillespie and Peggy Myers cast "no" votes. Many in the audience burst into applause following the vote.

Dozens of residents spoke on the matter during the public hearing, which lasted about 2-and-a half hours.

[read more]


Pennsylvania Redistricting Up for Comment
A new set of district maps for the Pennsylvania House and Senate was proposed on April 12, 2012, by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. In response to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's ruling in February in Holt v. LRC, the Commission proposed new maps with fewer divisions of counties and municipalities. These maps are available at http://www.redistricting.state.pa.us/Maps/ A thirty-day period is provided for members of the public to testify at a hearing or to file written comments with respect to the proposed maps. JSPAN is a member of a coalition of non-profit agencies and individuals studying the newly proposed districts. We invite your comments and suggestions! - Ed.


Exposing Political Myths of Today
By Burt Siegel, JSPAN Board Member

Myths give comfort to people, groups and entire societies. Usually they confirm pre-existing notions and prejudices. Today an all-encompassing political debate is being waged over the belief, cherished by some, that a full economic recovery is prevented by "job killing governmental interference" of the Obama Administration, including "bail outs," extension of unemployment benefits, the proposed return of higher taxes for the ultra wealthy, and even efforts to reign in some more egregious excesses of the financial sector.

Politicians like to quote eighteenth century economist Adam Smith regarding the benefit of the "invisible hand of the market place." The problem is that Smith never once said or wrote that. While he did speak of the invisible hands that impact on economies, he was not an advocate of a system in which government totally absented itself from a nation's financial health. In fact, he observed "we find the workings of the vile maxim of the masters of mankind of all for ourselves, and nothing for other people deeply troubling." "The invisible hand," he wrote, "destroys the possibility of a decent human existence, unless government takes pains to prevent this outcome, as must be assured in every improved and civilized society. It destroys community, the environment, and human values generally."

[read more]


Save the Date! The 4th Annual LimmudPhilly Learningfest: April 27-29, 2012
The 2012 LimmudPhilly Learningfest will be held on April 27-29, 2012, at Friends Select School, 17th & Benj. Franklin Parkway, Center City Philadelphia. LimmudPhilly 2012, a volunteer created weekend of learning and community, brings teachers of Yiddish, Jewish knitting, history and talmudic study together with learners from all backgrounds to exchange ideas in a vibrant and kinetic environment. The program changes from year to year to reflect the passions of our volunteers.

Participants have the option to attend from Saturday night to Sunday or to join in for the entire weekend - - including Shabbat. The intimate Limmud Shabbat Experience runs from Friday evening, April 27th to Havdalah on April 28th. The day revolves around community, providing a relaxed schedule that includes not only numerous Limmud learning sessions but also ample opportunity to slow down and talk to your fellow Limmudniks, including a communal Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch. Limmud is for the whole family. Sunday's program is designed for ages 3-10 --YOUNG LIMMUD! For more information about the schedule, volunteer opportunities and registration, go to http://limmudphilly.org/.


An Economic Recovery That Leaves Workers Further Behind
By Harold Meyerson
The Washington Post
April 10, 2012

Why is this recovery different from all other recoveries?

Many of the reasons are widely known: Rebounding from a financial crisis takes an excruciatingly long time; the huge decline in housing values has reduced Americans' purchasing power; large corporations are making do with fewer employees - at least, in this country.

But what really sets the current recovery apart from all its predecessors is this: Almost three years after economic growth resumed, the real value of Americans' paychecks is stubbornly still shrinking. According to Friday's Bloomberg Brief, "the pace of income gains is well below that of the past two jobless recoveries and real average hourly earnings continue to decline."

The Bloomberg report cites one reason for this anomaly: Most of the jobs being created are in low-wage sectors. According to Bloomberg, fully 70 percent of all job gains in the past six months were concentrated in restaurants and hotels, health care and home health care, retail trade, and temporary employment agencies. These four sectors employ just 29 percent of the country's workforce but account for the vast majority of the jobs being created.

[read more]


'Mad Men' Recap: Toning Down Michael Ginsburg, Don's Jewish Accent
By Ami Eden
April 9, 2012

The two-episode season premiere of "Mad Men" brought us Michael Ginsburg, the first Jewish employee at the advertising firm formerly known as Sterling Cooper. And the reviews -- OK, at least mine -- were harsh.

I'm happy to report that things were better in Episode 3. Whether Ginsburg is feeling more comfortable at work or the show's writers have gotten some shtick out of their system, the character felt less forced this week. (OK, he staged a holier-than-thou walkout and had a talk-too-much moment that could have gotten him fired, but that just tells you how bad last week was.)

He even gave us a line worth chewing on. After Don makes a crack about Ginsburg's voice, he responds without missing a beat: "It's a regional accent -- you have one too."

[read more]


'Mad Men' Gets (more) Jewish, Sandler Film Sets Razzies' Mark, Rihanna Getting into Kabbalah?

NEW YORK (6NoBacon) -- Sunday night's episode of "Mad Men" introduced the world to Michael Ginsburg, Sterling Cooper Draper Price's first Jewish copywriter. Played by Ben Feldman, Ginsburg fills the first-generation Brooklyn Jewish stereotype: He is a quick-talking, disrespectful, creatively gifted joker who intimidates Peggy and charms Don Draper into getting the position.

Later he returns to his tiny apartment where his father, with a comically thick Yiddish accent, says the blessing over the children usually reserved for Friday nights in a voice required only by a professional cantor.

All of this played out in the same episode in which the company hires its first African-American employee, though zero character development occurred on that front.

[read more]


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 newsletter@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 via PayPal on www.jspan.org. or to JSPAN, 1735 Market Street, Suite #A417, Philadelphia, PA 19103


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JSPAN Officers
Brian Gralnick

Lynn Zeitlin
First Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

Mark Newman
Vice President

Stephen Applebaum

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair

Jeffrey Pasek
Chair of the Board of Directors

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David Boonin
David S. Broida
Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Kenneth Fox
Paula Green
David Gutin
Rabbi Elliot Holin
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
Joanna Klein
Nathan Kleinman
Lazar Kleit
Marlena Kleit
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
Theodore Mann
Jay Meadway
Mark Newman
Maureen Pelta
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Rabbi David Straus
Ilene Wasserman
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Deborah Weinstein
Alex Urevick Ackelsberg
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Mark Newman
Deborah Weinstein

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.

As an organization for change, JSPAN strives to advance progressive social policies on the critical issues of our time. Help spread the news about us by forwarding this email and the link to our website http://www.jspan.org to your family, friends, and colleagues who might have an interest in joining JSPAN or serving on any of JSPAN's projects. If you haven't joined JSPAN, please join now!

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