Purim Issue

JSPAN Newsletter - February 23, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

Purim Issue:
Newsletter: February 23, 2012
Just in Time for Purim!
JSPAN announces the launch of its official cockamamie spinoff, jspan (the jewish special PURIM action network). To celebrate this ridiculous development, jspan, with no help from its parent, JSPAN, will present a Kabuki-style Theatre of Cruelty Purim Shpiel at 4 AM on Thursday, March 8, (Purim morning) on the 30th Street exit ramp of the Schuylkill Expressway. Or maybe not. If it happens, the public address system will provide simultaneous translations in 24 dead languages and assorted other manifestations of cacophony.

Following the performance, the JSPAN and jspan boards (which are sort of one and the same), for their Purim Parade, will do-se-do, the JSPAN board dressed in shopworn, full-fledged Fancy Brigade Mummers' regalia; the jspan board in gowns left over from a Midwestern bus-and truck tour of "La Cage Aux Folles," all whilst singing an off-key rendition of "The JSPAN and the jspan Should Be Friends" to the tune of "The Farmers and the Cowhands Should be Friends," e.g., "One group likes to talk and nosh; the other to eat hamantash -- but that's no reason why they can't be friends."

Following all of this mishegoss, a panel of first-year rabbinical students, representing all known branches of Judaism, will debate the question, "Resolved: the recently published 1/2 page Megillah for Dummies, at such a truncated length, cannot legitimately be considered a Megillah."

Chag Purim from JSPAN!!


Rethinking Purim
By Rabbi Goldie Milgram
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
March 9, 2012

Washington, DC - Jewish Women International (JWI) announces the release of the first in a series of study guides related to Women, Relationships and Jewish Text. Rethinking Purim is designed to spark new conversations about relationships by offering a fresh look at old texts. The guides are a project of JWI's Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, a group of prominent clergy committed to promoting Jewish responses and resources that end violence against women. Three more guides will be released in the coming year, each relating to a Jewish holiday.

Rethinking Purim takes a thematic approach to the story of Purim, and uses text of the megillah, midrash, and modern commentary to encourage conversations about relationships. Each section of the guide discusses a characteristic of healthy relationships: developing a voice of one's own; cultivating the conscious use of self; and striving for parity. The guide is designed for use in both formal and informal settings including synagogues, study groups, book clubs, or simply by a group of friends getting together.

[read more]


Different States' Contraceptive Rules Leave Employers Room to Maneuver
By N.C. Aizenman and Lena H. Sun
The Washington Post
February 19, 2012

When California adopted a law in 1999 requiring health insurance plans to include birth control if they cover prescription drugs, Catholic Charities of Sacramento was determined to fight.

But after a five-year legal battle ended in defeat at the state Supreme Court, the charity found a more effective solution: It chose to self-insure, an arrangement that only the federal government has authority to regulate, and it left birth control out of its plan.

So officials at the charity have been all the more bitter over the Obama administration's recent decision to issue a federal rule that will soon require most employers who offer workers insurance to cover birth control.

Their experience points to a complicated reality underlying the controversy over the federal contraception coverage rule.

On one hand, as administration officials have repeatedly stressed, 28 states already have laws on their books similar to the rule the administration has imposed. Nearly a third of those states don't offer an exemption even for churches - let alone an exception for the church-affiliated charities, universities, hospitals and other employers that are pushing to be left free from the federal rule. (And even in states that have no birth control coverage requirements, some Catholic-affiliated institutions have chosen to offer it voluntarily - including Georgetown University in the District.)

Yet many religiously affiliated employers in the states with coverage mandates have found ways to keep contraception out of their health plans. They can self-insure, putting themselves outside the reach of state regulation. But they can also benefit from exemptions or vague language in their state's laws, or from indifferent enforcement by authorities.

[read more]


No Discrimination in Cheltenham
Philadelphia Magazine online
February 16, 2012
Posted by Natalie Hope McDonald

In a vote of 6-1, the Board of Commissioners in Cheltenham approved an important anti-discrimination bill last night. The "Cheltenham Township Human Relations Ordinance," as it's called, essentially prevents anti-gay discrimination on all levels of government and business thanks to the creation of a human relations commission. There are only a few exceptions to the ordinance as relating to religious institutions.

It states that the ordinance provides: "for the creation of the Cheltenham Township Human Relations Commission, and to prohibit discrimination in housing, accommodations, commercial property, employment and public accommodations on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, age, religious creed, ancestry, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, use of guide or support animals ... or because of an individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression ..."

[read more]


The Dangerous Impact of Proposed Voter ID Laws
By Karen C. Buck
The Legal Intelligencer
January 23, 2012

"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."
- Lyndon B. Johnson

The Pennsylvania House has passed and the Senate is poised to vote on HB 934, amending state election law. Commonly known as the "Voter ID legislation," requiring all voters to produce photo ID each time they vote, this legislation will have a profound impact on our most fundamental right as Americans, posing significant questions as to who will be allowed to exercise their right to vote - and who will not.

"Reprinted with permission from the 1/23/2012 issue of The Legal Intelligencer 2012 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved."

[read more]


We Can Solve Voting's Flaws Without Requiring ID
February 16, 2012
The Philadelphia Inquirer

A national survey showing flaws in voter record-keeping offers further proof that Harrisburg and other Republican-run state capitals pushing to require government- issued photo identification to vote are ignoring a glaring problem while battling virtually nonexistent voter fraud.

The finding announced Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States demonstrates the need to clean up voter rolls that are muddled by duplicate and out-of-date registrations.

Among the issues needing attention are purging the rolls of voters who have died or moved and registered elsewhere and correcting data that's incorrect in other ways. Such registration problems led to 2.2 million votes being lost during the 2008 elections, according to experts.

What the Pew study did not find, though, was any evidence that the bad record-keeping has led to voter fraud.

The full report from The Pew Center on the States, "Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient Evidence That America's Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade," is available at http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Pew_Upgrading_Voter_Registration.pdf

[read more]


Trends in Party Identification of Religious Groups: Jewish Support for GOP Rises
February 2, 2012
Analysis: From The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

As the 2012 presidential election approaches, the partisan affiliations of the electorate have shifted significantly since 2008. In 12 surveys conducted over the course of 2011 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press among a total of more than 15,000 registered voters, 34% described themselves as Democrats, down four points compared with 2008 (38%). Over the same period, the percentage of voters describing themselves as Republicans has held steady at 28%, while the total saying they are politically independent or have no partisan preference has risen four points (from 34% in 2008 to 38% in 2011).

The Democrats' decline is especially apparent when the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account. Though there has been no change in the share of the electorate identifying with the GOP, there has been a significant increase in the number of Republican-leaning independents (from 11% in 2008 to 16% in 2011). Taken together, the share of voters who say they are Republican or that they lean toward the GOP has grown from 39% in 2008 to 43% in 2011, while the number saying they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has declined from 51% to 48%. A 12-point Democratic advantage in 2008 has shrunk to just five points heading into the 2012 presidential election year. This marks a continuation of a trend first observed in 2010, when 43% of the electorate supported or leaned toward the GOP while 47% favored the Democratic Party. (For a detailed analysis of longer-term trends in party identification and of changes in the partisan preferences of a variety of demographic groups, see "GOP Makes Big Gains among White Voters, Especially among the Young and Poor," July 22, 2011.)

A new analysis shows that the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady in every major religious group. This includes both religious groups that are part of the GOP's traditional constituency as well as some groups that have tended to be more aligned with the Democratic Party, including Jewish voters.

[read more]


Daily Gifts of Service
By Mary Ziegler
Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor
February 21, 2012

In-home caregivers provide a vital service by assisting their clients with day-to-day tasks.

Sometimes that service translates into acts of heroism, as Gilda Brown discovered one day when her client summoned her to ask if she smelled something burning. When Brown went to investigate, she found the client's furnace in flames. The client was physically incapable of exiting the house without assistance, so Brown told her to call the fire department while she went to the basement to try to smother the flames.

"Don't leave me here and let me die," Brown recalled on December 15, a few hours after President Obama announced a proposed rule that would ensure fair pay for caregivers like her. "Don't worry about it; I'm not – even if I have to put you on my back."

[read more]


Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It
By Benjamin Applebaum and Robert Gebeloff
The New York Times
February 11, 2012

LINDSTROM, Minn. - Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region's long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

[read more]


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JSPAN Officers
Brian Gralnick

Lynn Zeitlin
First Vice President

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Ruth Laibson
Vice President

Kenneth Myers
Vice President

Mark Newman
Vice President

Stephen Applebaum

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Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair

Jeffrey Pasek
Chair of the Board of Directors

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David Boonin
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Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Kenneth Fox
Paula Green
David Gutin
Raechel Hammer
Rabbi Elliot Holin
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
Joanna Klein
Nathan Kleinman
Lazar Kleit
Marlena Kleit
Rabbi Robert Layman
Richard I. Malkin
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Jay Meadway
Mark Newman
Maureen Pelta
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
Burt Siegel
Marc Stier
Rabbi David Straus
Ilene Wasserman
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Deborah Weinstein
Alex Urevick Ackelsberg
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Mark Newman
Deborah Weinstein

Ira Goldberg


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