March 2016


JSPAN Newsletter - March 2016

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: March 2016
Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz to be 2016 Social Justice Award Honoree
JSPAN's Social Justice Award honors individuals whose life work fulfills the organization's mission of advocacy, education and action in pursuit of social justice and tikkun olam-"repairing the world." Past award recipients include Maureen Pelta & Alan Feldman; Mark Aronchick; Ernest Kahn; Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C.; Arlene Fickler; Todd Bernstein; Sheila & Dan Segal; Alan Lerner & Adelaide Ferguson; Andrew Chirls & Larry Frankel and Burt Siegel. On May 12 at 5:30 PM, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, outstanding political and communal leader, will be presented with the JSPAN Social Justice Award for her many contributions to the best interests of women, children, families and the underserved. The speaker at the award ceremony will be JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director of Maternity Care Coalition. Save the date and act now to show your support by becoming sponsor!


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Welcome New Members of JSPAN Board of Directors
The JSPAN Board of Directors is pleased to announce and welcome the following new Board members whose terms begin in 2016:
  • Lauren Beller, Advocate and Special Education Teacher
  • Adam Garber, Field Director, PennEnvironment
  • Ilana Goldfus, Development Associate, Greene Street Friends School
  • Andrea Jacobs, Organizational Analyst and Consultant
  • Sena Singer, Attorney, General Practice
  • Rebecca Kirzner, Campaigns Director, Community Engagement, HIAS


AJ & JSPAN Co-Sponsor "A Rabbi, an Immigration Lawyer & Donald Trump Walk into a Bar: Jewish Perspectives on Current Issues on Immigration Policy"
JSPAN and Congregation Adath Jeshuran will present "A Rabbi, an Immigration Lawyer & Donald Trump Walk into a Bar: Jewish Perspectives on Current Issues in U.S. Immigration Policy," Wednesday, April 20 at 7:30 PM. The speaker will be attorney Eleanor Pelta, a recognized leader in immigration and nationality law. Pelta has served as President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She is a prolific author and sought-after speaker on immigration topics and has several awards from AILA. On April 19, Pelta and her sisters, Maureen, Sylvia, will receive the 2016 Golden Door Award from HIAS Pennsylvania.

The program, part of the AJ Forum on Current Events, is sponsored by Congregation Adath Jeshurun, an inclusive, egalitarian Conservative synagogue affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, located at 7763 Old York Road in Elkins Park. JSPAN is proud to co-sponsor this event. Admission is free.


Perry Dane on "Can the Supreme Court Take a Lesson from Jewish Law on Scalia Replacement?"
According to Perry Dane, Rutgers Law Professor and long-time participant in JSPAN's Church and State Policy Center [our think-tank on the religion clauses of the First Amendment], in an Op-Ed in the Forward, "Jewish tradition has some remarkable things to say about judges and judging." Drawing on his experiences as a law clerk to former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William J. Brennan, Jr., Dane laments changes in how we've come to perceive the judicial selection process. In Dane's view, "the real question is whether we can reboot the whole process, or whether the Supreme Court will continue to be another victim of our hyper-partisan and cynical age."


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"Fighting Back, Moving Forward": Keystone Progressive Summit Points the Way
Several JSPAN leaders attended the recent Keystone Progressive Summit, which brings together progressive thought leaders from across the Commonwealth to share program ideas and best practices. Keystone Progress, an organization whose goal is to strengthen the progressive political movement in Pennsylvania, sponsored the event and is now starting chapters throughout the Commonwealth. JSPAN Executive Director Rabbi George Stern reported on the event for the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.


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Sacha Baron Cohen and the Actor's Quest for Social Justice
For Sacha Baron Cohen, it's been a long and winding road from a campus production of "Fiddler on the Roof" to "The Brothers Grimsby." As his longtime friend Dan Friedman, Managing Editor of the Forward, notes in this recent article, at the heart of the actor's work has always been the quest for social justice.


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Watch these Cases: EEOC Files Suits Alleging Title VII Covers Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. Sexual orientation is not among the "protected classes" enumerated in the statute. Efforts to encourage Congress to enact legislation to rectify this omission have failed. However, because federal civil rights law is a floor, not a ceiling, for civil rights, some states and local governments may pass and have passed laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination. Now the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that administers Title VII, has issued guidance interpreting the scope of Title VII's prohibition of "sex" discrimination so as to encompass "sexual orientation" and, as reported below, has brought litigation based on that theory. JSPAN supports social policy and law that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and is currently reviewing this important development.-Ed.


From "Religion Clause" Blog
March 2, 2016

The EEOC announced [on March 1, 2016] that it has filed its first two suits in federal court testing its theory that existing laws barring discrimination on the basis of sex cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In an administrative decision under Title VII handed down in July, the EEOC held that "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, or norms." [The] suits build on that. In EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center, P.C., (WD PA, filed 3/1/2016), the complaint alleges that a gay male employee's manager repeatedly directed anti-gay epithets at him, as well as other highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life. In the other suit, EEOC v. Pallet Companies, (D MD, filed 3/1/2016), the complaint alleges that a lesbian employee was harassed by her supervisor with comments about her sexual orientation and appearance, and was fired in retaliation for complaining. To access the EEOC's complaints and additional information,


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Call to Action: Bend the Arc & JSPAN Encourage You to Support the #Jewsfor15 Campaign to Fight Economic Inequality
JSPAN is the local affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. As set forth in our Economic Justice Policy Statement, passed by the JSPAN Board of Directors in November, 2015, JSPAN strongly supports policies that reduce income disparity, including adopting a living wage for all workers, and have long supported the right of workers to collectively bargain. We encourage you to support the #Jewsfor15 campaign described below--Ed.


Call to Action: Bend the Arc & JSPAN Encourage You to Support the #Jewsfor15 Campaign to Fight Economic Inequality

Economic inequality has reached a crisis point in the U.S. and we need to take action together. Forty-six percent of working people make less than $15 an hour, which isn't enough to pay for a worker's food, shelter and clothing-and far too little pay for the needs of their families. That's just unacceptable.

As Jews, we see this issue as both an economic and moral crisis. Many of our communal traditions and texts make clear that all work holds dignity, and society has an obligation to care for the most vulnerable. Join the #Jewsfor15 campaign by signing the pledge supporting the nationwide push for $15 minimum wage and the right to collective bargaining


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As a reader of the JSPAN Newsletter, you may already know a lot about the Jewish Social Policy Action Network-our programs, the amicus briefs we file, the positions we take on important domestic social policy issues-and, hopefully, in this newsletter, you are finding articles of interest on topics you care about.

But what you may not know is how JSPAN can help you to contribute to the advancement of social justice, support progressive public policy and ensure fairness and equality for everyone in our region and nation.

We care about a variety of domestic social policy issues--separation of church and state, economic justice, education, voting rights, the environment, racial justice, gun control, healthcare, hunger and food security, immigration, LGBT equality, criminal justice, women's rights and reproductive freedom. As part of its pursuit of social justice-a central tenet of Judaism-for each of these areas, JSPAN has policy centers to keep us alerted to important developments on these issues and to develop solid positions on social policies upon which to base the organization's educational and advocacy efforts.

We invite you to get involved in these policy centers and otherwise contribute to our work. We are looking for people from all segments of the community-business people, students, educators, healthcare providers, clergy, lawyers, writers, social workers and others who want to volunteer to work for social justice. If you are interested, please contact our Executive Director, Rabbi George Stern (



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




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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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