May/June 2015


JSPAN Newsletter - May/June 2015

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In this Issue:
Newsletter: May/June 2015
Support Legislation That Repairs the World
Over the past few months, JSPAN's Board of Directors has voted to support pending or soon-to-be-introduced legislation in a number of the areas consistent with our goal of fair and equitable social policy-a.k.a. repairing the world-and we are continuing to monitor and vet these and other legislative efforts. JSPAN is actively supporting progressive legislation to raise the minimum wage, make medical marijuana legal, end abusive civil forfeiture laws, stop sex trafficking, remove barriers to voting rights, support transgender rights, promote women's health, and much more.

We encourage you to learn about this progressive legislation and to take action to voice your views to promote a just and equitable society. Please join JSPAN in encouraging state and federal lawmakers to enact these measures.

Below are articles about these issues and ways you can encourage our lawmakers to make progressive social policy a reality in Pennsylvania and across the country. Going forward, you can also keep abreast of developments on JSPAN's Facebook page (see below)




Yale President Calls on Graduates to Commit to Tikkun Olam
Tablet Magazine
By Yair Rosenberg
May 19, 2015

When Peter Salovey, a professor of psychology, became president of Yale University in 2013, the school paper quickly noted that he was a scion of the Soloveitchik family, the great Orthodox rabbinic dynasty. Since assuming office, Salovey has embraced his heritage... perhaps the most Jewish moment of his presidency came this weekend at Yale's graduation ceremonies, where Salovey repeatedly invoked the rabbinic tradition in exhorting students to commit themselves to "tikkun olam." In his Baccalaureate address to Yale's graduating seniors, titled "Repair the World!," Salovey opened with a reference to the Mishnaic sage, Hillel the Elder.

Following Hillel, Salovey proceeded to outline his own philosophy of life on one foot. "There are many perfectly fine answers to the question about your commitments after Yale," he continued. "What I am going to suggest to you today, however, is that your purpose in life as a graduate from Yale is simply this: to improve the world. In the Jewish tradition, this is called tikkun olam, literally to repair the world."


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Like Us on Facebook!
To keep our supporters up-to-date on issues, articles, and events that pertain to our social justice work, we've inaugurated a JSPAN Facebook page that we update often-and where you can leave comments on what you read.

We hope you will LIKE US and tell your friends and associates about the page as well. We want to be the voice of progressive Jews in Greater Philadelphia-and to spread news of our work and action alerts to others. Because what we do matters. Our Facebook page can be accessed here:


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PA Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill-Now It Needs Support in the PA House
JSPAN has long been a strong and active advocate for legalization of medical marijuana in the Commonwealth. In 2009, representatives of JSPAN, among them current Board members Ruth Damsker and Brian Gralnick, provided expert testimony on this issue and assisted with drafting legislation. Note also that medical marijuana may soon get the kosher stamp of approval. See coverage of this recent development in The Forward, -.Ed

On May 12, the Pennsylvania Senate approved Sen. Mike Folmer and Sen. Daylin Leach's legislation to allow certain patients to treat their debilitating medical conditions with cannabis – the vote was 40-7! Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ready to sign legislation that arrives at his desk but first it must be approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Call and email your state representative to send Gov. Wolf this compassionate bill. The Keystone State is nearly surrounded by states where medical marijuana is legal, and polls consistently show that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support it.

SB 3 would allow registered patients to use medical cannabis and to safely access it from regulated dispensaries. To qualify, patients must have an approved medical condition, such as cancer, seizures, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Crohn's disease, or chronic pain.



[read more]

Contact your state representative to encourage support of the bill in the PA House of Representatives.


PA Rep. Mark Cohen Introduces Two Transgender Rights Bills
On recommendation of JSPAN's Past President and Chair of our LGBTQ Rights Policy Center Lynn Zeitlin, Esquire, JSPAN is proud to support two transgender rights bills-the Transgender Student Rights Bill and the Transgender Health Benefits Act, both now before the PA House. –Ed.

Philadelphia Magazine
By Josh Middleton
February 10, 2015

Philadelphia State Representative Mark Cohen has introduced two transgender-specific bills in the current session of the House.

The first, House Bill 304 (HB 304 - Sponsors: Cohen, Brown, Brownlee, Frankel, Harris, Kinsey, O'Brien, McCarter, Schlossberg, Sims and Thomas) would, as Cohen explained in a press release, "require coverage of transition-related care, including hormone therapy, mental health, and surgery in all private, public, and Medicaid plans." The bill currently has 9 sponsors including Cohen, Dan Frankel, Stephen McCarter and Michelle F. Brownlee. If passed, it would make Pennsylvania one of four states that have transgender healthcare coverage.

HB 303 (Sponsors: Cohen, Brown, Brownlee, Frankel, Harris, McCarter, O'Brien, Roebuck, Schlossberg, Schweyer, & Sims)), aka the Transgender Student Rights Bill, is inspired by California's "Success For All Students Act. It seeks to eliminate gender-based bias on campuses across the state by clarifying "that students may live as their true gender identity, regardless of the sex listed on student records. Under this legislation, students would be able to follow the dress code, use facilities such as locker rooms and restrooms, and participate in athletic programs based on a students' self-attested gender."


[read more]


JSPAN Joins PA Campaign for Women's Health
JSPAN is proud to join with over two dozen other Pennsylvania organizations in the Campaign for Women's Health, a statewide coalition aimed specifically at promoting women's health and prosperity in Pennsylvania. The Campaign will primarily use the Pennsylvania Legislature's Women's Health Caucus' Legislative Agenda for Women's Health to promote much-needed change in Pennsylvania, working to advance the actual pieces of legislation in the Agenda.

The Agenda is a legislative package of bills that proposes evidence-based policy solutions to real problems faced by women and families in Pennsylvania. The aim is to focus lawmakers' attention on a range of critical issues impacting women's health and well-being. It includes bills that would strengthen workplace protections for pregnant and nursing women, support equal pay, raise the minimum wage, address gaps in health coverage for women veterans, ensure reproductive and comprehensive healthcare access and personal safety and freedom from domestic violence and sexual assault.

For more information about the Campaign and the legislative agenda as well as what you can do to help, please visit


Coming Soon: 2015 Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition Award Ceremony
The annual Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition provides a vehicle for middle and high school students of diverse races, religions and ethnicities to creatively express their response to the Holocaust. Students are invited to respond to the lessons of the Holocaust by creative expression through poetry, prose, painting, sculpture, music, dance and video. The award ceremony celebrates students from public, parochial and private schools from the 5 counties of Southeastern Pennsylvania who have won prices as part of the competition.

The Philadelphia Jewish Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) began sponsoring the Competition in 1973. The contest is named in memory of the young leader who led the Jewish uprising against Nazi tyranny in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. JSPAN's 2015 Social Justice Award recipient Maureen Pelta, Ph.D. chairs the annual competition, a project founded by her father, Holocaust survivor Samuel Pelta. An awards ceremony is held each June in conjunction with the exhibition and all artistic submissions are exhibited professionally by Moore College of Art and Design.

Meet the winners of the 2015 Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition and view their works during the award presentation ceremonies at 7 PM on June 1, 2015 at Moore College of Art. For more information,


[read more]



Action Alert: Support Safe Harbors for Minor to Stop Sex Tracking of Minors
2015, the Safe Harbor for Minors Act, differs substantially from the federal legislation in that it provides for child prostitutes to be treated by social services rather than being placed into the criminal justice system.-Ed.



On Tuesday June 9, bi-partisan legislation concerning children and sex trafficking, known as Safe Harbor for Minors, will be introduced in Harrisburg. A petition to support this legislation was circulated at the Federation's recent program on sex-trafficking (co-sponsored by JSPAN and many other organizations). This bill will define sexually exploited children as victims of abuse, help them find protection and support, and grant them immunity from prosecution for prostitution while they are under 18 years of age.

Women's Way, a Philadelphia advocacy group for women and girls, is coordinating a day of advocacy in support of this important legislation. JSPAN supports this effort and encourages your participation. JCRC of the Jewish Federation is arranging bus transportation and lunch at a minimal cost. Tentatively, a briefing will begin around 10 am in Harrisburg at the Capitol followed by a rally/press conference at 11:30 with return to Philadelphia anticipated by 5 PM. For more information contact Selena Camara at


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




Support JSPAN

Remember that JSPAN welcomes your donations to help us continue our important and effective work in Tikkun Olam. You may send gifts and donate using this direct line on or to JSPAN, 1735 Market Street, Suite #A417, Philadelphia, PA 19103




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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

Lynn Zeitlin
Past President

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
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


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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