JSPAN Social Justice Award Honors Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: November 4, 2011
JSPAN Social Justice Award Honors Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C. at Nov. 21 Reception Featuring Ruth W. Messinger
JSPAN will confer its 2011 Social Justice Award to the law firm of Langer Grogan & Diver, P.C. on Monday, November 21 at a reception from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. The keynote speaker will be Ruth W. Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C. is being honored for its dedication to law in the public interest and commitment to fostering commitment to the public interest among future generations of attorneys. The firm established the Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C. Fund for Social Justice to support public interest law in the Delaware Valley and the Langer, Grogan & Diver Fellowship in Social Justice which provides public interest fellowships to graduates of the University of Pennsylvania Law School during their first year practicing law. The firm has also established a fellowship at HIAS and Council Migration Services of Philadelphia.

Please join JSPAN on November 21 as we recognize Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C., recipient of the JSPAN 2011 Social Justice Award. If you have an invitation, please RSVP as soon as possible. For more information and to learn about financial sponsorship, contact JSPAN Executive Director Ruthanne Madway at (215) 546-3732 or rmadway@jspan.org.


Ruth W. Messinger, AJWS President, Lifelong Activist in Pursuit of Social Justice, To Speak at JSPAN Award Reception
Ruth W. Messinger is president of AJWS, a faith-based international human rights organization that works to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world. In addition to grant making to over 450 grassroots projects around the world, AJWS works with the American Jewish community to promote global citizenship and social justice through activism, volunteer service and education. She was the first woman to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for mayor in 1997. Ms. Messinger is continuing her lifelong pursuit of social justice at AJWS, helping people around the world improve the quality of their lives and their communities.

Considered a national leader in the movement to end genocide in Sudan, Ms. Messinger has been called upon several times to advise President Obama about creating a sustainable path toward peace in that country. In recognition of her leadership, she has served on the Obama administration's Task Force on Global Poverty and Development. She is also involved in faith-based efforts to secure human rights around the world.


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Parshat Lech Lecha 5772: The Loftiness in Leaving and the Rigors of Return
In the following article from AJWS' Weekly Social Justice Torah Commentary, South African Jewish educator Adina Roth discusses two powerful models for social change in Parshat Lech Lecha – lech lecha and shuvi. Referencing the Occupy Wall Street movements, she writes " Lech contains an idealistic impulse. It encourages us to reject the injustice around us and create a world imbued with the best that humanity can devise. Shuvi locates our activism in daily reality and invites us to engage with difficult and complex relationships in familiar habitats. Depending on our personal narratives and circumstances, we may seek to create change in the empty spaces beyond, or right where we are." Ed.


American Jewish World Service, November 5, 2011
By Adina Roth

Parshat Lech Lecha opens with God's command to Avram to leave everything that he has known-his birthplace, family and the pagan culture he grew up with-and move to a land "asher arekha-that I will show you."[1] Avram is asked to leave behind familial binds and unwanted value systems and embrace an unknown future in order to create a new world. The Sefat Emet, a 19th-century Chasidic rabbi, suggests that Avram's departure from the familiar to the open-ended will enlarge his vision, indicating that the root of the word arekha is "resh-aleph-heh"-to see.[2]

Avram, with his vision of monotheism, becomes an agent for change in the Torah, and his task to move-"lech lecha"-becomes a compelling model for tikkun olam today. With its emphasis on departure, the lech model challenges us to leave behind all unjust systems in order to create a better world. For example, this approach is what drives the Occupy Wall Street movement, with its calls to reject business models that perpetuate disempowerment and inequity and replace them with new, more equitable practices. As a model for social change, lech creates distance between a corrupt reality and a more hopeful vision. Read More


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JSPAN Visits Occupy Philadelphia: Interview with Nathan Kleinman
JSPAN Board Member Nathan Kleinman has participated in Occupy Philadelphia, the experiment in pure democracy happening on Dilworth Square alongside the Philadelphia City Hall, since its earliest days. Newsletter Editor Ken Myers visited OP and interviewed Kleinman on October 22. Ed.

Ken Myers: We are together to discuss Occupy Philadelphia which is happening right here. Is this a political event with a capital P, or is it something else?

Nate Kleinman: I would say at this stage it is the beginning of a social and possibly political movement. It is impossible to predict where it is going to go. Nobody has the power to decide where it is going to go on their own. The group makes decisions through, as much as possible, consensus. When we vote on things if we cannot come to consensus we decide with a supermajority. And so it really requires a long process of consensus building.

Myers: You mentioned that in the evening, typically at seven 0' clock you have what you call the General Assembly. So everybody gets out and shares ideas?

Kleinman: Everybody who lives here and people from elsewhere all come together. We make announcements about things that are coming up. Various working groups, of which at this point there are probably 20 or 25, report back to the full Assembly. They talk about what they are doing, what ideas they are having, what they are planning, they say when they meet and reiterate that everyone is invited. Every working group is open to all, and anyone can start one.

The General Assembly and that whole process was started on Occupied Wall Street and this is modeled after it. There are General Assemblies happening all over the country. There is one meeting today in York, Pennsylvania. There is going to be one in Stroudsburg, there is one in Norristown today, not to mention of course the bigger cities in every state across the country.

Myers: Do you see a tendency within this group to try to create a fourth political party (I say that because I give the Tea Party credit for being one)?

Kleinman: I am not sure. I think how this movement exercises its power in the political arena is still very much up in the air. But I have heard a lot of ideas, there was a lot of talk about it, and I think eventually we will come to consensus on a way forward . It seems likely to me that it will attempt to influence the political process. Some people want to run candidates for Congress next year in every single district in the country. That would certainly be something I would support because I think it's not just Republicans that need to be asked, there are plenty of Democrats who could use a good challenge.


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JSPAN Commends Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Ramsey for City’s Responses to Occupy Philadelphia
Noting the restrained manner in which the City of Philadelphia has responded to Occupy Philadelphia, JSPAN President Brain Gralnick and Chair of the Board of Directors Jeffrey Pasek recently wrote to Philadelphia’s Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Ramsey commending them for the way in which the City has interacted with the protestors.

To read the letter click here.


JSPAN Urges PA House of Representatives to Vote Against SB 1
SB 1, now before the PA House of Representatives, purports to address the need to provide broader educational opportunities to Pennsylvanians from how-income homes and, especially, members of minority groups, attending public schools, by means of tuition vouchers. JSPAN has taken the position that SB1 is not the best means of addressing this crisis and is urging members of the PA House to reject SB 1for reasons described in a letter from JSPAN’s President and Chair of the Board of Directors.

To learn more and read the letter posted on the JSPAN website,click here.


Why Inequality in America Is Even Worse Than You Thought
A new study shows economic and social conditions in the U.S. rank near the bottom of the developed nations.

Salon, October 29, 2011
By Justin Elliott

There has been no shortage of headlines this week about the growing income and wealth inequality in the United States. A new study from the Congressional Budget Office, for example, found that income of the top 1 percent of households increased by 275 percent in the 30-year period ending in 2007. American households at the bottom and in the middle, meanwhile, saw income growth of just 18 to 40 percent over the same period

But less attention has been paid to the fact that not only are the numbers bad in America, they're particularly bad when compared to other developed nations. A new report by the Bertelsmann Foundation drives this point home. The German think tank used a set of policy analyses to create a Social Justice Index of 31 developed nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The United States came in a dismal 27th in the rankings.


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JSPAN Urges Opposition to Senate Bill 732: Legislation Would Impede Pennsylvania Women's Access to Abortion Services
On October 20, 2011, JSPAN President, Brian Gralnick, wrote to all members of the Pennsylvania Legislature to voice JSPAN's opposition to PA Senate Bill 732 and urge legislators to vote against its adoption. JSPAN recognizes a woman's right to choose as a human right, and Senate Bill 732 severely impedes women in Pennsylvania from exercising that right.

To read the letter, click here.

Information about JSPAN policies and positions on a woman's right to choose can be found at the Policy Center on this topic athttp://www.jspan.org/p/50. Eds.


Push for 'Personhood' Amendment Represents New Tack in Abortion Fight
The New York Times, October 25, 2011
By Erik Eckholm

A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.

With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate.

"I view it as transformative," said Brad Prewitt, a lawyer and executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, which is named for the Mississippi proposition. "Personhood is bigger than just shutting abortion clinics; it's an opportunity for people to say that we're made in the image of God."

Many doctors and women's health advocates say the proposals would cause a dangerous intrusion of criminal law into medical care, jeopardizing women's rights and even their lives.

The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and "morning-after pills," which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.


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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 tonewsletter@jspan.org



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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
Sarita Gocial
Paula Green
David Gutin
Raechel Hammer
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

Ruthanne Madway
Executive Director

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.

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