Your Opinion Counts

JSPAN Newsletter - July 15, 2011

Jewish Social Policy Action Network
In This Issue:
Newsletter: July 15, 2011
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!

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Additional Opportunities to Get Involved with JSPAN
As JSPAN starts its new fiscal year we are pleased to announce the following committee appointments: Jill Zipin
Development Chair

Ken Myers
Program Chair

Mark Newman
External Communications Chair

David Broida
Nominating and Board Governance Chair

Rhoda Indictor
Strategic Planning Chair

If you would like to join one of these committees, please e-mail JSPAN Executive Director, Ruthanne Madway,


End of Life Medical Care Resolution
As a follow-up to JSPAN's excellent program on end-of-life medical decision-making, the Board of Directors passed the following resolution on July 13, 2011. Our Bioethics Committee is now working on additional initiatives in this area.

Each of us is likely to confront difficult and painful medical care choices, for ourselves or loved ones, at some point in our lives. Adequate information and the assistance of medical professionals, faith advisers and counselors are vital to these decisions.

Modern medical technology can frequently extend the biological functions of a terminally ill patient even though no cure is possible. Unless instructed to the contrary, healthcare providers may feel obligated to institute or continue medical interventions in even the most hopeless cases.

Jewish law teaches us that life is the gift of our Creator and is to be preserved. But it is also Jewish law that the process of dying should be neither extended nor impeded. We are called upon to cure a condition when we can. When a cure is no longer possible, however, we are mandated to provide care as life ebbs away.

JSPAN resolves that:

Each person is entitled to seek his or her own "quality of life" choices when medical science can no longer provide a cure or restore health. A person has the right to accept or decline a proposed treatment.

Every time a therapy is proposed, a person has a right to be told what is involved, how the therapy will be introduced, the likely consequences, and (if applicable) how and when the treatment will be withdrawn.

Each person has a right to be informed of alternative treatments that are available, including palliative care.

These rights are only meaningful if people know their choices. Doctors, hospitals and nursing facilities need to assure that this information reaches patients and their families. Protocols need to be developed so that patients and families are aware of the benefits of comprehensive palliative care and hospice care, as well as of curative therapies and their limits.

Every person should consider these questions and choices, discuss them with family, have access to medical and religious advisers, and appoint a personal representative to make medical decisions in case of need.

Having considered the options, every person should create a written advance directive to guide relatives, personal representative and professional caregivers when the need arises. Because wishes and goals change, the advance directive should be revisited from time to time to assure that the instructions remain appropriate for that individual.


No, We Can't? Or Won't?
There is currently much focus on negotiations to secure an agreement on raising the debt limit. At its core, though, it's a debate on the ability of government to help its citizens in time of great need. - Ed.

New York Times
Op-Ed By Paul Krugman
July 10, 2011

If you were shocked by Friday's job report, if you thought we were doing well and were taken aback by the bad news, you haven't been paying attention. The fact is, the United States economy has been stuck in a rut for a year and a half.

Yet a destructive passivity has overtaken our discourse. Turn on your TV and you'll see some self-satisfied pundit declaring that nothing much can be done about the economy's short-run problems (reminder: this 'short run' is now in its fourth year), that we should focus on the long run instead.

This gets things exactly wrong. The truth is that creating jobs in a depressed economy is something government could and should be doing. Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action - notably, the fact that the House is controlled by a party that benefits from the economy's weakness. But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality.

Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity - a choice rationalized by an ever-shifting set of excuses.


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The Death Penalty and the Costs of an Obsession
The Washington Post
Opinion By E.J. Dionne Jr.
July 10, 2011

The unseemly love affair some American politicians have with the death penalty is bad for justice and bad for our country's standing in the world. It inflicts a wholly unnecessary moral stain on a nation that rightly preaches the rule of law to everyone else.

Even more remarkable is the indifference that five Supreme Court justices have shown to such considerations.

And then there is Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who insisted on pushing ahead last week with the execution of Humberto Leal, a Mexican national convicted of the rape and killing of a teenager. Even former president George W. Bush - who presided over 152 executions as Perry's predecessor - had qualms about the case. Bush hasn't gone soft. He's legitimately worried about the costs of the United States thumbing its nose at the government of Mexico and the world.


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6 Months After Giffords Shooting White House to Propose Steps on Gun safety in 'Near Future'
Associated Press July 8, 2011

WASHINGTON - Six months after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, the White House is preparing to propose some new steps on gun safety, though they're likely to fall short of the bold measures activists would like to see.

Spokesman Jay Carney said that the new steps would be made public "in the near future." He didn't offer details, but people involved in talks at the Justice Department to craft the new measures said they expected to see something in the next several weeks. Whatever is proposed is not expected to involve legislation or take on major issues, like banning assault weapons, but could include executive action to strengthen the background check system or other steps.



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Anti-Semitism and the American College Campus
The Forward
By Robert Wistrich
July 8, 2011

The recent controversy over the axing of Yale University's Interdisciplinary Initiative for Studying Anti-Semitism (to be replaced by a new faculty-based research program) has generated much heat, but little light. Some of the commentary has been venomous, unnecessarily personalized, and self-serving, while invoking unproven allegations of political bias. The highly polemical tone of the debate has, in my view, obscured some more important and wider issues about American campuses, not least of which is the question of why the academic study of anti-Semitism has come so late to the United States.

One possible explanation is that American Jewry, following its highly successful integration into postwar American society, initially had no special interest in highlighting a phenomenon that might underline its "otherness" to an uncomfortable degree or recall the hostility it had once encountered. Until fairly recently, most American Jews have shared the unwarranted assumption that anti-Semitism greatly declined in the West following the Holocaust. This was partly true in the United States, but much less so elsewhere.


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In Dutch Shechitah Ban, Jews see a Sign they are Unwanted
By Alex Weisler
July 7, 2011

AMSTERDAM (JTA) -- A few streets over from the bookstore where Anne Frank bought her famous diary, the only kosher butcher shop in Holland is bustling. Two employees man the long counter at Slagerij Marcus, pausing from chopping meat to sell customers a bit of this or that for Shabbat dinner.

In the wake of an overwhelming vote by the Dutch House of Representatives to ban the type of ritual slaughter required for kosher and halal meat, this butcher shop famous for its handmade sausage is at the front lines of a battle between two competing ideals in Holland: freedom of religion and animal welfare.

What put shechitah, or kosher slaughter, in the crosshairs was an unlikely convergence between animal rights activists and Holland's far-right, anti-Muslim movement.


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Undocumented Jews Live in Shadows of U.S. Society
The Forward
By Nathan Guttman
July 15, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Jewish community's strong support for immigration reform is fueled largely by memories of the Jewish exodus from Europe at the turn of the 20th century and by a desire to nurture ties with newcomer immigrant communities.

But there is another group that has a stake in seeing a comprehensive immigration overhaul adopted, a group the Jewish community hardly deals with, and perhaps is ashamed of: undocumented Jews.

Exact numbers of undocumented Jews are not available, and estimates are hard to find, but activists believe there are at least several thousand Jews currently living in the shadows of society. They are Israelis who immigrated to the United States without proper papers - some joining ultra-Orthodox communities, others seeking to pursue better financial opportunities and some who have used Israel as a stepping stone on their way to America from the former Soviet Union, without obtaining the necessary immigration status. And while their numbers are minuscule in comparison with the estimated 11 million mostly from Mexico and Latin America, Israeli undocumented immigrants share a similar fate.


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Will Pennsylvania Become the Next Arizona?
Judith Bernstein-Baker, Esq., is the Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania. – Ed.

By Judith Bernstein-Baker, Esq

"As Jews, how can we stand idly by with a broken system that hurts those most vulnerable? More and more we are being asked to break the foundational law of Judaism, 'To love your neighbor as yourself.' We are being asked to see our neighbor as a criminal alien because they fled from poverty and danger and wish to work and support their families. Did our relatives, generations back, not do the same for us?" --Rabbi Rebecca Gould, HIAS Pennsylvania Social Justice Intern (2010- 11)

There has been an explosion in the number of state and local level immigration laws-estimated to be more than 1500 in 2011-aimed at immigrants. Immigration has traditionally been an area almost exclusively reserved for federal regulation. However, in The Chamber of Congress v. Whiting, decided May 26, 2011 U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision (Justice Kagan did not participate) gave Arizona permission to mandate that employers use E-verify, a database that supposedly confirms the legal status of workers, as a condition of doing business in that state. Several days later, the Lozado v. Hazleton case was remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court to re- consider the Hazleton ordinance, which makes both employers, and landlords check immigration status. Both the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit had ruled the ordinance was pre-empted by federal law-that is-only the federal government could regulate immigration, not localities. This effort-to create separate state enforcement of immigration--is not limited to "undocumented or unauthorized immigrants." There are currently 2 million "mixed status families" where at least one parent or a child is a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, but another parent is undocumented. Immigration law requires that the unauthorized immigrant return home and face a 10 year separation from their families. Families often chose to separate, and the broken family remaining in the U.S. loses a worker, often plunging them into abject poverty.

Increasingly, the debate on immigration has taken on aspects of extremism and xenophobia. While most reliable economic studies show immigrants improve the economy, restrictionists claim immigrants take away jobs and harm the economy. Immigrants work in niche occupations, including many areas U.S. workers don't chose to work in. One recent study showed there was NO correlation between high unemployment rates and counties with large numbers of immigrants. Immigrants or children of immigrants founded 41% of Fortune 500 companies. Such notions as "the immigrant invasion " or "third world conquest " are promoted in anti-immigrant position papers and articles. Under the misnamed rubric, "National Security Begins at Home," Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R, Butler County) has introduced a package of bills in the Pennsylvania state legislature promoting local enforcement of immigration laws and more. Many of the bills are duplicative. The idea appears to use a "shock and awe" approach aimed at driving immigrants-legal or otherwise-and their families from Pennsylvania. The state of Georgia, which has passed some of these restrictionist laws had its intended effect- immigrants left the state and now farmers are frantic, as crops are rotting in the fields because of lack of farm labor. There is a proposal to use inmates from prisons to fill the gap.


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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

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Susan Myers
Policy Centers Chair

Jeffrey Pasek, Chair of the Board of Directors

Irwin Aronson
Susan Bolno
Adam Bonin
David Boonin
David S. Broida
Deanne Comer
Hon. Ruth Damsker
Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
Kenneth Fox
Sarita Gocial
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
Theodore Mann
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
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Ruthanne Madway
Executive Director

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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