Passover Edition

JSPAN Newsletter - April 8, 2011

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue: Passover Edition
Newsletter: April 8, 2011
End-of-Life Choices - JSPAN Event on April 14
A time comes when medicine is only postponing death, not achieving any quality of life. Patient, family, doctor and adviser should help each other to make choices to obtain the best result - for that patient.

Most of us will face that moment sometime, whether for ourselves or a loved one. We need to know when and how to have the discussion and make the right choices for that person.

JSPAN's program on Thursday evening, April 14, will include a short video reenactment of an end of life discussion. Then a panel of outstanding professionals will discuss when and how to make the choices that achieve the maximum comfort and peace in our last days.

Individuals, medical professionals, clerics and advisers should come to this free yet invaluable program! - Ed.



Galilee Diary: Pesach in the Galilee
by Marc J. Rosenstein
Union for Reform Judaism - 4/16/11

The mountainsides were festooned with multicolored wild flowers. The Bedouin shepherds led their flocks to graze along the lush valleys. 85% of the Jews of Israel (according to surveys) sat down to observe the seder ritual – and among them the Hilazoner Rebbe and his flock of disciples and their families. … They came to the passage:

"In every generation we must see ourselves as if we, personally, had come forth out of Egypt. For not only our ancestors did God redeem – God redeemed us with them."

The Rebbe began to speak softly, and the room grew quiet. You know, I was one of those who didn't want to leave. There were a lot of us who felt that way. No, no one likes being a slave and I certainly suffered like anyone else. But there was a certain comfort in the routine, in the structure, of knowing your place, of being taken care of. …

[Then] ten of our top leaders returned from a mission to Israel and announced their dissent from the official story. And so it happened that I and my friends were allowed to live out our lives in the desert, under God's care and Moses' leadership, and not to have to face the overwhelming challenge of entering history as a sovereign state, of applying to the messy reality of everyday life the lofty principles of Torah, of building a just economy, of living peacefully with strangers.

Our time will be up soon. The next generation will have to face the challenge we averted – of sovereignty, of responsibility, of coming in out of the simplicity of the desert and building a sustainable society in a world where nothing is simple, and even the most obvious moral value ends up colliding with another equally obvious one, with no Moses to resolve the conflict. I pray that my children are up to the task.

There was silence in the room for a long moment. Then the Rebbe lifted his glass and the seder continued: "Let us sing before God a new song, halleluyah!"


[read more]


JSPAN Releases 2011 Haggadah Supplement
The familiar Seder plate, the rituals, and the Haggadah easily restore to memory the Passover Bible story, our past Seder experiences and those with whom we shared them. But what will we do to bring current 21st Century challenges into the Seder, so that the ancient prayers are made relevant to our world today? The JSPAN Haggadah Supplement adds immediate social action opporunity to the timeless familiar prayers.

Hunger and food insecurity are the subjects of the 2011 Haggadah Supplement. In our community, soup kitchens serve 49 million meals in a year. One quarter of American failmies suffer profound food insecurity. The Haggadah Supplement offers facts, prayers and a menu of specific opportunities for you to engage in the fight against hunger.

Copies of the Supplement may be ordered on line at at cost of $3 for one copy and $2 for each adidtional copy, including mailing (the booklet includes a full color cover and 12 pages with illlustrations)). Elevate the educational and ethcial dimension of your Passover holiday.

As we enter the Passover season, you can take an early opportunity to fight hunger by chasing your chametz to a food collection center. Your synagogue may be collecting food or can help you find a nearby location for you to make your donation.


JSPAN Launches Kosher Campaign at Triangle Commemoration Event
By Ruthanne Madway

On Thursday, March 24, JSPAN co-sponsored a commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the Triangle factory fire, sweatshop factory fire that caused the death of over 140 workers, mostly Jewish and Italian women and girls. This watershed event galvanized the labor movement and launched a series of social reform measures to correct the causes of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. The commemoration drew a very large and attentive audience.

Rabbi Linda Holtzman of Mishkan Shalom read the victims' names and led the Kaddish prayer. Sister Judith Kreipe of the Philadelphia Archdiocese offered her prayer. Jeff Hornstein, President of event cos-sponsor Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, placed Triangle in the context of the larger Jewish labor movement. Frank Snyder, Secretary-Treasurer of co-sp0onsor Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, gave a rousing keynote speech which brought Triangle into our own times.

JSPAN Board member Marc Stier introduced the Kosher Clothes campaign, pioneered on the West Coast by the Progressive Jewish Alliance to address the problem of sweatshops in our own time, in our own country. JSPAN's Kosher Clothes campaign will provide all of us with opportunities to make a positive difference in eradicating unhealthy and inhumane working conditions, here and around the world.


Balance a Budget by Taxing Poor Sick People?
By Art Caplan, Ph.D.
MSNBC - 4/1/11

Like many states, Arizona faces a serious budget crisis. But unlike other states, Arizona public officials have shown a remarkable skill for finding ways to address their projected $1.6 billion deficit that are unfair, unjust and cruel. Their latest bright idea is to balance the state budget on the bodies of poor Arizonans who are unlucky enough to be fat or addicted to tobacco.

Gov. Jan Brewer has now proposed levying a $50 fee on state Medicaid recipients who are obese and who don't follow a doctor-supervised slimming regimen. She also wants to charge those who smoke.

The plan, if approved by the Republican-dominated legislature, would mark the first time a state-run but federally subsidized health-care program for the poor has charged people for unhealthy acts.


[read more]


It's The Plutocracy, Stupid
MJ Rosenberg
Political Correction - 4/1/11

I received an email from a Capitol Hill aide who thinks my criticism of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, is overly simplistic. He doesn't dispute the fact that AIPAC has a disproportionate influence on our Middle East foreign policy. He argues, however, that AIPAC is no different than other powerful special interest lobbies. ...

The American democracy we learned about in school no longer exists. It's been sold to the highest bidders. And the highest bidder is not, as the Tea Partiers like to say, "We The People."


[read more]


Religious Hatred is American Treason: Peter King Hearings and a Lesson from 1921
Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Huffington Post - 3/15/11

In the weeks leading up to the House hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims," anti-Muslim rhetoric continued apace in some segments of the media. At an Islamic Society of North America dinner in Arlington, Virginia last month, over 200 Muslims shared their concerns as panelists discussed the challenges facing the Muslim community. Professor Ingrid Mattson, the immediate past president of the organization, began the program by reminding the audience, "We are not alone -- our interfaith family has our back."

This is not the first time Americans of faith have stood behind a religious group singled out for suspicion. In 1921, at a time of widespread, virulent defamation of Jews, John Spargo, a lay Methodist minister, social critic and activist, said "It should not be left to men and women of the Jewish faith to fight this evil ... Anti- Semitism commands our special attention today ... but my plea is not for pro-Semitism." Rather, he opposed efforts to "divide our citizenship on religious lines." He did so out of "loyalty to American ideals." In a lecture later that year, Spargo called religious hatred "American treason." In his eyes, the "Jews' problem" was actually an American problem.


[read more]


Kol Ami Social Justice Award to JSPAN
Congregation Kol Ami of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania presented its 2011 Social Justice Award to JSPAN in a ceremony at Erev Shabbat services on April 1. Rabbi Elliot Holin explained the history and source of the award, which focuses their Congregation on combining social action with religious observance.

Rabbi Elliot Holin recounted the history of the award and the eminent prior honorees who had received it. He explained why the goals of the award of advancing social justice, education and action fit precisely with the programs and work of JSPAN. Brian Gralnick, JSPAN President, accepted the award, noting that he was brought up in the same sanctuary in its prior life and describing a number of social justice initiatives and projects of this agency. The award includes both a handsome Torah scroll in Lucite ™ and a cash grant.

We thank Kol Ami and extend our recognition to the Congregation and Rabbi Holin for their strong commitment to social action.


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JSPAN Officers
Brian Gralnick

Kenneth Fox
Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

Stephen Applebaum

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair


Jeffrey Pasek, Chair
Alex Urevick
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David S. Broida
Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Sarita Gocial
Paula Green
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
Lazar Kleit
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
Theodore Mann
Mark Newman
Maureen Pelta
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
Randy Schulz
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Rabbi David Straus
Mike Weilbacher
Deborah Weinstein
Lynn Zeitlin
Jill Katz Zipin

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Mark Newman

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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Jewish Social Policy Action Network
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