April 2007

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Networking Central

The Jewish Social Policy Action Network

-- Deanne Scherlis Comer

A group of progressive individuals, firm in its belief that the ethical path of societal responsibility is a pillar of our Jewish tradition, decided four years ago to form an organization that would serve as a vehicle to carry forward the goals of social justice.

And so JSPAN was created!

With a small budget and a grand vision of transforming the social action scene, JSPAN members embarked on an ambitious agenda that has already accomplished remarkable feats.

This past year alone:

  • JSPAN testified before the Pennsylvania General Assembly on the humanitarian reasons for raising the state minimum wage. JSPAN was the only Jewish organization to do so!
  • When U.S. Senatorial candidate Katherine Harris gave a stump speech equating the failure to elect Christians as “legislating sin” and calling the separation of church and state a “lie,” JSPAN opposed her; and, with the help of the local press, secured an acknowledgement of error from the Florida Republican Party.
  • JSPAN provided the speakers for programs about the injustice of the death penalty in both eastern and western Pennsylvania.

This year JSPAN continues in its pursuit of sound social policy in these areas, as well as many others.

  • JSPAN will return to the topic of the “gerrymander,” the corrupt redistricting practices by which politicians steal your voting rights.
  • JSPAN will press for sound immigration policies that are consistent with this nation’s heritage.
  • JSPAN will continue to file friend-of-the-court briefs in key church-state and civil rights cases.

In all of these endeavors, JSPAN has illustrated the power of a grassroots organization to provide hope for the disenfranchised in society.

JSPAN’s policy centers, focusing on issues such Immigration Reform, Ethnic Conflict, Gerrymandering, Capital Punishment, and Gun Control, utilize outside experts to help formulate policies. JSPAN is a new organization with a small budget and no endowment. To convert policy into action, JSPAN has the drive and commitment of volunteers who share the joy of achievement using their own skills and efforts.

2007 has already gotten off to an energetic start, as JSPAN continues to stay abreast of topical issues. Recent activities include:

  •  JSPAN's support of the U.S. Congress H. Res. 106, which asks President Bush and his administration to recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923.
  • Board Member Ted Mann, a founder of Mazon, lobbied in Washington along with other representatives of anti-hunger organizations to re-authorize the Farm Bill with adequate resources and program policy changes that will address food insecurity.
  • JSPAN is also supporting legislation to strengthen the right to vote by requiring a paper trail for each voting place.

Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts will be the featured speaker at JSPAN’s Annual Meeting on May 20, 2007, when JSPAN will celebrate the completion of its fourth year.

Can a progressive, citizen-run organization survive in the Delaware Valley?

You bet!

If you are looking for a place where your dreams for a more just society can be translated into positive action, consider being part of JSPAN, a vital and vibrant organization that is creating a wave of positive social change.

You can visit JPAN’s website and read their newsletter to get a fuller picture of what they are about! Then, feel free to attend one of the JSPAN Parlor Meetings, to be held throughout the Philadelphia Region, where you can meet some of JSPAN’s board members and engage in some lively discussion!

For further information contact: Deanne Scherlis Comer dconsult@verizon.net JSPAN Membership Chair.

Past Networking Central Groups of the Month

In this section, we highlight a new local group each month in order to encourage networking.

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