May 16, 2014


JSPAN Newsletter - May 16, 2014

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: May 16, 2014
JSPAN 10th Annual Meeting Co-Sponsored with JCRC Features JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow
Please join the Jewish Social Policy Action Network on Sunday, June 8, for its 10th Annual Meeting featuring guest speaker, Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, (JCPA) the coordinating body for 16 national Jewish agencies and 125 local Jewish community relations councils and federations. A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbincal Collge, Gutow is a rabbi, lawyer and activist. Learn more about this dynamic and passionate speaker here.

This year's program is proudly presented in co-sponsorship with the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council, local council member of the JCPA. The program will be held on Sunday, June 8, from 7-9 PM at The Philadelphian, 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia.

JSPAN Founder Ted Mann, a current Board member of both JCPA and JSPAN, will introduce Rabbi Gutow, his long-time friend and colleague.

Seating is limited. For more information and to make a reservation, contact


U.S. Supreme Court Allows Legislative Prayer, Rejecting JSPAN's Amicus Curiae Arguments
The U.S. Supreme Court has unfortunately ruled in the legislative prayer case of Township of Greece v. Galloway that local governing bodies may open their meetings with prayers by citizens, even if the practice is dominated by expressions of one faith-the Christian religion. In a troubling opinion, the majority of the Court held that there was no coercion when prayers were said as part of the ceremonial opening of a local government Board meeting and no infringement of rights protected by the First Amendment.

In so doing, the Court rejected JSPAN's position as argued in its amicus curiae brief, that "Legislative prayer, particularly by local government bodies, coerces member of religious minorities to participate in exercises of the dominant denomination. Allowing a town council to begin its meetings by invoking Jesus Christ's guidance eviscerates the First Amendment's guarantee for members of religious minorities that come before that council for decisions on their rights."

JSPAN extends its great appreciation to the pro bono attorneys who, with assistance of our Church/State Policy Center, represented the organization in this effort: Cozen O'Connor attorneys Jeffrey I. Pasek (JSPAN Founder) and Katlin DiNapoli, and Of Counsel attorneys Theodore R. Mann (JSPAN Founder) and University of Pennsylvania School of Law Professor Seth F. Kreimer. Written in plain language, the brief explains how JSPAN's interest in the case stems directly from the "experience of its members, many of whom have lived at times in small towns or other communities where there are few other Jews." For those who would like to review the entire brief, it is posted on the U.S. Supreme Court docket.


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JSPAN Supports Living Wages and Worker Dignity: Your Vote on May 20 CountsAmicus Filings
By Rabbi George Stern

JSPAN supports legislation that would ensure a "living wage" to all workers. Living wages make it possible for workers to raise families and enter the middle class without relying on public funds, enhancing worker self-esteem and productivity. Allowing businesses to pay low wages essentially subsidizes corporate profits: corporate executives make outsized salaries, shareholders get larger dividends - and we all pay taxes to support food stamps and other crucial benefits for the underpaid workers.

There are many myths about low-wage workers – that they are mainly teenagers seeking a little pocket money or that they are uneducated and therefore unskilled (i.e., that the low wages "are their fault"). The speakers at a rally for a "living wage" in Pennsylvania which I attended as JSPAN's representative demonstrated clearly how inaccurate these myths are. One after another, adults raising children – some adults trying to find the funds to complete college degrees – testified to the hardships they endure as they bring home between $7.25 and $8 an hour at establishments like the airport and fast food restaurants (the latter are planning a strike here and across the country to highlight their plight).

Here are some facts (from a mid-2013 study by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions):

  • The average age of affected workers is 35 years old;
  • 88 percent of all affected workers are at least 20 years old;
  • 35.5 percent are at least 40 years old;
  • 56 percent are women;
  • 28 percent have children;
  • 55 percent work full-time (35 hours per week or more);
  • 44 percent have at least some college experience.
On May 4, Mayor Nutter signed an Executive Order raising the wages of city subcontractors to 150% of the federal minimum wage, which would currently mean a minimum of $10.88 an hour. On May 20, City voters will have a chance to codify that order into law by voting YES on May 20 in support of Ballot issue #1. While we do not consider that to be a living wage, it is a good move in the right direction. We also urge support for the $10.10 minimum "living wage" for Pennsylvania, the subject of the recent rally.


JSPAN Joins Aging & Justice Coalition: Here's How to Urge Congress to Fund Elder Justice Initiatives
It has been four years since the Elder Justice Act became law, but Congress has yet to provide any funding. Federal funding has never been appropriated to establish a national infrastructure for Adult Protective Services (APS) and there is currently no national database or national standards. The President's FY 2015 budget proposes $25 million for an Elder Justice Initiative including $13.8 million dollars for APS. More specifically, $2.6 million to create an APS National Data System that can interface with all 50 states, $5 million for technical assistance and demonstration grants to enhance data systems, $5 million to develop national program standards, and $1.2 million for evaluation. It will also provide $11.2 million for evidence based research including elder abuse screening and will establish a better knowledge base about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

JSPAN supports the right of every older person to be free of abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Elder Justice Coalition is a national advocacy voice supporting elder justice initiatives. To learn more about its work and to send a message to your representatives in Washington to encourage them to make elder justice a higher priority for our nation by supporting the President's budget request.


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Only Minorities Need Apply
Much has been written commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The following article by John Skrentny, Professor of Sociology at UC-San Diego, digs deeper than historical accounts. It introduces the author's theory of "racial realism," the focus of his recently published book, "After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace." Supported by a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, Skrentny's book brings the story up to date and examines how the employment protections of the Civil Rights Act work or don't work for people of color in the current era of mass immigration and the post-industrial economy. As Skretny sees it, notwithstanding the intent behind the Civil Rights Act, race and color are increasingly being used by business to deliver profits. -Ed.

The New York Times
By John D. Skrentny
May 6, 2014

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which among other things prohibits the use of race in deciding whom to hire, fire, promote or place in the best and worst jobs.

But while the overt discrimination of 1964 is now rare, a more subtle form of bias is emerging: Both public and private employers increasingly treat race not as a hindrance, but as a qualification - a practice that, unchecked, could undermine the basic promise of the act.

For example, corporations often match African-American, Asian-American and Latino sales employees to corresponding markets because of their superior understanding of these markets, or because customers prefer to see employees of their own race, or both.

This is not affirmative action: Such "racial realism" is not intended to guarantee equal opportunity or compensate injustice, but rather to improve service and deliver profits for employers.


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End of the Road for Pa.'s Voter ID Law?
The Legal Intelligencer
By Saranac Hale Spender
May 9, 2014

Pennsylvania became the third state in the last month to shed its hotly contested law requiring voters to show identification at the polls. Following years of litigation, the Corbett administration has dropped the case by deciding not to pursue an appeal of the Commonwealth Court's January injunction of the voter ID law. Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania's Republican governor who is up for reelection this year, said that he will go to the General Assembly to retool the law, but not in this legislative term.


[read more]


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JSPAN Officers
Deborah Weinstein

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Richard I. Malkin
M.D., Vice President

Kenneth R. Myers
Vice President

Burt Siegel
Vice President

Jay Meadway

David Gutin
Assistant Treasurer

Joanna Klein

Jeffrey Pasek
Policy Center Chair

Stewart Weintraub
General Counsel

Rabbi George Stern
Executive Director

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
Hon. Ruth Damsker
William Epstein
Brian Gralnick
Margot Horwitz
Adrienne Jacoby Ph.D.
Hon. Babette Josephs
Nathan Kleinman
Marlena Kleit
Ruth Laibson
Theodore Mann
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz M.D.
Dan Segal
Marc Stier Ph.D.
Rabbi David Straus
Ilene Wasserman Ph.D.
Lynn G. Zeitlin
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
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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