Why "Occupy Judaism" is Turning Point

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: October 19, 2011
OWS: Why "Occupy Judaism" is Turning Point
As the demonstration in New York and sister demonstrations in Philadelphia and elsewhere continue into a third week, murmurs of fear stir in the Jewish Community that the tirades against bankers might turn into tirades against Jews. But we know that in every large crowd there is a kook. A few overwrought blogs aside, the evidence of any such development is minor. The following editorial explains some of the reasons. - Ed.

The Jewish Daily Forward, October 13, 2011
By Jane Eisner

Today, a few conservative commentators, uncomfortable with the Kol Nidre service [at Occupy Wall Street] and Occupy Anything in general, have highlighted the boorish, anti-Semitic rants by a handful of protesters to suggest that the entire enterprise is dangerous. Maybe it is. But if it is, then it doesn't reflect mainstream America.

Even though Jews occupy some of the loftiest positions in national finance, the rhetoric of this recession has been remarkably free from anti-Semitism. "The only people in America worried about that are the Jews," said [Harvard political scientist Robert] Putnam, who has plenty of research to back up his claim, even though it's still difficult for Jews to believe that everyone doesn't, in fact, hate us. (Putnam knows. He's Jewish himself.)


[read more]


Invoking Title VI Against Anti-Israel Actions
The Daily Forward, October 14, 2011
By Naomi Zaveloff

Just one year ago, establishment Jewish groups universally welcomed a decision by the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to expand his department's interpretation of Title VI to include protection against "harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics," effectively including Jews. Prior to Duncan's reinterpretation, issued in October 2010, Jews were regarded as purely a religious group and therefore outside the purview of Title VI, which does not include religion as a protected category.

But one year later, the Jewish communal world is a picture of discord on the question of when and under what circumstances Title VI should be invoked. The division - much of it focused on when anti-Israel activity tips into anti-Semitism - is apparent not only between organizations but within them, as well. In August, AJC executive director David Harris publicly repudiated his in-house anti-Semitism expert, Kenneth Stern, after Stern co-wrote an open letter warning that "many" complaints being filed under Title VI "simply seek to silence anti-Israel discourse and speakers." Stern called this trend "dangerous."

[read more]


Do Not Eliminate Abortion Clinics Through Regulation
By Audrey Ann Ross, JSPAN Board Member

The Pennsylvania House is expected to vote on Senate Bill 732 soon. This Bill originally altered the inspection process for abortion clinics. However, as amended, it now alters legal requirements in ways that could force some clinics to close or significantly increase the cost of care. See the potentially devastating impact at www.wevehadenoughpa.org.

Contact your State Representative and State Senator urging them to oppose S. B. 732. Call and email Governor Corbett at (717) 787-2500. Thank the Governor for his reasonable approach to abortion regulation thus far and to urge him to oppose further regulation, including unnecessary ambulatory surgical facility regulations.

Read the letter to the editor from Ruth Damsker, JSPAN Board member, opposing S.B. 723, the abortion clinic bill.



Medicare: 6 Things You Need to Know Now
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, has prepared a plain-English explanation of Medicare and the changes being made in the program. Both to understand the changes and to find your best deal, this guide provides a lot of help. – Ed.

Medicare: 6 Things You Need to Know Now
By Jim Guest, President

Consumer Reports developed this brief guide and included an updated version in this magazine to let you know how the new health-care law will affect Medicare and your benefits in 2012. Since our founding 75 years ago, we have focused on providing easy-to-understand comparative information to help consumers make the best decisions in the marketplace. ...

You can play a part in helping to keep Medicare costs down: Carefully review your bills and report any errors. Also report any unusual or suspicious offers to get Medicare services. To find out more about preventing misleading and costly practices, go towww.stopmedicarefraud.gov.


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What Sukkot Teaches Us
By Rabbi Donald Kunstadt
Ten Minutes of Torah, Union for Reformed Judaism

We can be thankful for people who strive to predict the end of the world, who are making life a little bit easier for the comedy writers of late-night television and helping all of us smile more often. Gog and Magog have likewise provided excellent material for many television preachers for decades on end. They have been variously interpreted in modern times as representing the Soviet Union, Russia, and popular today with some preachers, the modern state of Iran. Again many of us smile at the naivete of these preachers and their followers. ...

So what about Gog and Magog? Just as our lives go in cycles from birth to death, so do countries and civilizations. Sukkot and Kohelet teach of the cycles of life and nature, and the frailty of it all. Gog and Magog represent the end of a cycle. But what Sukkot teaches us, as every casual observer of nature can affirm, with the end of every cycle there is another beginning.


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Eligible Children Should Have Easy Access to Free School Meals
Food Research Action Center

Through October 24, USDA will be accepting comments on its interim rule, "Direct Certification and Certification of Homeless, Migrant and Runaway Children for Free School Meals."


USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published an interim rule on April 24th that updates regulations on direct certification for free school meals for children living in households receiving SNAP/Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and the Federal Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and on the enrollment of homeless, migrant and runaway children. The rule addresses changes required by both the 2004 and 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization laws. It puts into formal rule policies that were previously implemented by FNS guidance memoranda. These policies simplify the enrollment process by extending free meal eligibility to all children in a household that receives SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR, and by streamlining the requirements for homeless, runaway and migrant children.


[File Your Comment]


College Diversity Nears its Last Stand
New York Times, October 15, 2011
By Adam Liptak

Abigail Fisher, a white student, says she was denied admission to the University of Texas because of her race. She sued in Federal District Court in Austin, causing Judge Sam Sparks to spend time trying to make sense of a 2003 Supreme Court decision allowing racial preferences in higher education. "I've read it till I'm blue in the face," Judge Sparks said in an early hearing in Ms. Fisher's lawsuit. But the meaning of the central concept in the decision - "this esoteric critical mass of diversity of students," he called it - kept eluding him.


[read more]


Ransoming Schalit: an Age-old Dilemma
Jerusalem Post Editorial, October 16, 2011

Many of the moral deliberations surrounding the prisoner exchange deal to release Sgt. Gilad Schalit have been agonized over by Jewish sages for ages. During centuries of exile and wandering, the Jewish people has, sadly, accumulated immense experience with extortion and abductions. Wherever they went, Jews tended to excel but, unfortunately, often lacked the means to defend the fruits of their labor. Too often they became easy prey for kidnappers.

Jews' strong emphasis on the value of life, their belief that they share a common fate and their strong feeling of mutual responsibility led them to go to extreme measures to free hostages. And this was ruthlessly exploited by their enemies.


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Israel High Court Upholds Ban on Sukkot Gender Segregation in Jerusalem ... in What High Court says Will be Last Time Practice is Approved
Haaretz Oct. 16, 2011

During this year's Sukkot celebrations, police gave ultra-Orthodox leaders of Mea She'arim's Toldos Aharon community permission to erect a barrier dividing the street by gender, despite the fact that, last year, the High Court ordered community leaders to revoke the segregation they imposed on women on Sukkot. ... The High Court has now ordered that this will be the last year that police can permit the erection of such a barrier.


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Polish Play about Anti-Semitism to Open in Philadelphia
The Daily Forward, October 13, 2011

By Lisa Traiger

A passing nod. A borrowed cup of sugar. A shared fence. A watchful eye on the house. That's what neighbors are for. But what happens when neighbors turn and become enemies? That's the question that consumed Warsaw-based playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek on learning that the black-and-white Polish Holocaust history he had learned at school was actually blood red. After discovering the truth about Poles who perpetrated acts of violence against Jews, Slobodzianek penned the play "Our Class" in 2009. It takes a hard look at how neighbor can turn against neighbor: On July 10, 1941, in the small town of Jedwabne, Poles murdered 1,600 of their Jewish neighbors. This massacre is the centerpiece of "Our Class" which, since its Warsaw premiere in October 2010, has become among the most controversial of contemporary plays in Poland.


[read more]


Your Opinion Counts
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