October 2014


JSPAN Newsletter - October 1, 2014

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: October 1, 2014
L'Shanah Tovah - Happy New Year 5775
May it be filled with peace and happiness, health and contentment, and be for all a blessing. Before you cast away all your sins, check out this alternative Tashlich poem. Emily Bass wrote this piece with the theme of today’s injustices. We found it a good reminder of our mission and we hope you find inspiration in it as well.

It is our city, built of our silences and strengths, that is in the balance, here today.
In the shadows of shortening days, on the bright edge of the New Year,
We come bearing the heft, the inevitable weight of a full year's
Decisions and inactions, movements and hesitations.
We come to fill our hands with what we have not done
And what we have. To empty them, to free them for work.
To empty them until there is nothing left but the space of a doorway that we can step into, together
With a New Year's commitment to the balance of our city.


[read more]


The Honorable Gerald A. McHugh to Speak at Reception Honoring Maureen Pelta and Alan Feldman
JSPAN is pleased to announce that the Honorable Gerald A. McHugh, Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, will present the guest lecture at the upcoming 10th Annual Social Justice Award Reception on October 27 honoring 2014 award recipients Maureen Pelta and Alan Feldman.

Judge McHugh was nominated by President Obama in 2013 and received his judicial commission on March 28, 2014. He was formerly a partner at the Philadelphia law firm of Raynes McCarty. From 1981 to 2004, he was a shareholder at Litvin, Blumberg, Matusow and Young.

Judge McHugh is known for his public service. He was appointed three times by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to chair the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts program which raises funds to support civil legal services for the poor. He is former president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation which promotes equal access to justice. In 2004, he joined the Board of Pennsylvania Legal Services. Among his many awards for community service are the Fidelity Award of the Philadelphia Bar Association, the first Annual Community Service Award of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, the Equal Justice Award from Community Legal Services, the Young Lawyers Community Service Award of the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Distinguished Advocate Award of the Support Center for Child Advocates, and the Friends of Farmworkers Award.

For information about the 2014 Social Justice Award reception,





JSPAN Board Adopts New Education Policy
Responding to broad-based concerns about the adequacy and fairness of public education funding, the JSPAN Board on September 15 adopted a new policy, upon which it has already begun taking action. The policy asserts, “Quality public education for all students is a civil right” and that “the quality of a child's education should not depend on the wealth of his or her community.” It further states, “We support fully funded public education, preschool through undergraduate college, throughout the Commonwealth.”

The new policy is fully in accord with other JSPAN concerns, including that “providing all children with a solid knowledge base and the tools for critical thinking is crucial for maintaining a just and prosperous democracy where the rights of minorities are preserved and separation of church and state is vigilantly protected.”

Over the coming months, it is the intention of a newly formed JSPAN Education Policy Center to create educational materials for use in Jewish settings and to forge alliances with groups advocating for fair public funding for education. Already, in the lead-up to the November elections, JSPAN has signed on as a supporter of PreK for PA and added its name to a statewide coalition of educators, business and labor leaders, faith-based organizations, civic and child advocacy groups addressing the funding of public schools. We urge you to make fair education funding a priority as you decide who to support in the various races on November 4.

For the full text of JSPAN’s Education Policy, click here.


Governor Corbett’s Version of Medicaid Expansion Approved, But Serious Concerns Remain
At a recent meeting of the JSPAN Board of Directors, Dr. Richard Malkin, Co-Chair with Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz of this organization’s Healthcare and Bioethics Policy Center, briefed the Board about Governor Corbett’s plans for expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania. It has now been determined that Medicaid expansion will come to the Commonwealth, but the threat of benefit cuts to existing Medicaid programs remains. As a condition of expanding health care for some, Governor Corbett is attempting to take it away from others through drastic and potentially dangerous cuts which will affect current enrollees. For an appropriate action step here is the current petition of Cover the Commonwealth to preserve Medicaid in Pennsylvania. Further info can be found at http://pahealthaccess.org/

JSPAN has long supported universal, affordable health care insurance for all Americans. We were active in the U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and we have supported implementation of the ACA in Pennsylvania and expansion, throughout the Commonwealth, of Medical Assistance which will cover 500,000 residents who were previously uninsured. The following article about the current status of Medicaid in Pennsylvania articulates the concerns of Cover the Commonwealth, a joint effort of more than 130 organizations—including JSPAN-- working to ensure Pennsylvania lawmakers accept federal funding in the ACA to extend access to health care for hundreds of thousands of working Pennsylvanians.—Ed.


On August 28th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced their approval of Governor Corbett’s Medicaid Expansion alternative, Healthy Pennsylvania. The final proposal is markedly different from the original plan submitted by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW), with some of the most harmful elements like punitive lockout periods and tying premiums to a new, bureaucratic work search requirement removed.

Beginning January 1st, 2015, individuals and families with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level will be eligible to enroll in health insurance offered by private Medicaid Managed Care companies in a new system run by the Commonwealth. While the approval of Healthy PA marks a major step forward in covering all Pennsylvanians, serious concerns remain about several key aspects of the final proposal:

[read more]


Gratz College—Tuzman Memorial Holocaust Teach-In Commemorating Kristallnacht
Gratz College invites the community to the Arnold and Esther Tuzman Memorial Teach-in Commemorating Kristallnacht featuring a keynote lecture by Father Patrick Desbois. Father Desbois, author of “The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journal to Uncover the Truth behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews,” is president of Yahad-In Unum and director of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic-Judeo Relations. He is a French priest who has dedicated his life to researching the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism, and furthering relations between Catholics and Jews.

JSPAN is a co-sponsor of the program which will be held at Gratz College, 7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park, PA 19027, on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. For more information and online registration,


[read more]


Is This How Redistricting is Supposed to Look?
Common Cause of Pennsylvania is launching a renewed effort to reform the redistricting process. Today our Congressional and state legislative districts are gerrymandered by politicians to hold onto seats they could not earn in a fair election. The goal of CCPa, following the successful California model, is to remove the redistricting process from party politics and put it into the hands of a non-partisan commission, supported by specific standards enforceable by the courts. CCPa has a working committee and is soliciting supporters and funding for a broad effort to address the problem well before we go into the next decennial redrawing of boundaries in 2022. JSPAN has supported CCPa’s prior effort and will soon take up the question what we can do prospectively to participate in the project. Here is a report of a creative effort in Maryland. –Ed.


The Washington Post
By Jenna Johnson
September 21, 2014

The anti-gerrymandering activists spent a year plotting their route through Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, which meanders through narrow stretches of four counties and was once described by a federal judge as “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

This weekend, the activists and their adventure-seeking friends ran, biked and boated for 225 miles, from the city of Baltimore to Baltimore County, to Howard, Montgomery and Anne Arundel, to make this point: Representative government isn’t supposed to look this way.


[read more]


JSPAN Speaks Out in Amicus Brief to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
JSPAN has joined with a diverse group of organizations, under the leadership of the Anti-Defamation League, in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit supporting a challenge to Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage in the case Deleon v. Perry.

The brief argues that Texas’ marriage ban is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause in that it was “enacted with the purpose of imposing a particular religious understanding of marriage as law at the expense of all others.” It urges the Court to abide by the constitutional tradition of strict separation between religious policy and state law and claims that a decision invalidating the Texas Marriage Ban would not threaten religious liberty.

To review the brief, click here.


Commentary: Why Jews Should Care About What Happened in Ferguson
JSPAN recently became the Philadelphia affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to bring progressive Jewish values to bear on issues across the nation. We are part of a nationwide network of Jewish individuals and organizations working to hold America to its promise as a place where everyone can share in social and economic opportunity, and enjoy equal rights and liberties. Bend the Arc’s other affiliates include Jews United for Justice and Jewish Community Action In case you missed it, below is a wonderful editorial by Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc, published in The Washington Post. It gives Jews approaching the High Holy Days some significant food for thought. Indeed, what she has to say is relevant to every American. –Ed.


The Washington Post
By Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc
August 26, 2014

There is a warzone in America’s heartland. Most of us are far from the armored police vehicles rolling down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. But the battle there is being fought all over this country, and just because it is not the Jewish community under immediate attack doesn’t mean that we, as people of faith, don’t have a moral responsibility to stand with the residents of Ferguson. Indeed, all communities of faith have an obligation to speak up when we see injustices perpetrated against our fellow citizens.

Let’s start with the hard truths. The police action in Ferguson is not about protecting small business owners from petty theft. It’s not about quelling chaos or keeping order. It’s about racism. It’s about the fact that, as a country, we have never truly grappled with the lasting effects of slavery and the multiple iterations of Jim Crow. As Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently explains in his recent article in The Atlantic, “What came before this was a long bloody war—enslavement—against black families, black communities and black bodies. What came after was a terrorist regime which ruled an entire swath of this country by fire and rope. That regime was not overthrown until an era well within the living memory of many Americans.”



[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

George Pomerantz

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
Jay Meadway
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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