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Congressman Evans on Tax Reform and Children’s Healthcare

Rep. Dwight Evans and kids in school classroom.

Rep. Dwight Evans and kids.

Republican Tax Plan

Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02) released the following statement after reviewing the latest Republican tax plan.

Our country has not seen bipartisan tax reform since 1986, and I believe we can all agree that the U.S. tax code is in need of a major facelift. Comprehensive tax reform must simplify our tax code, lower rates, and ensure a progressive tax code that helps move everyone in our neighborhoods forward, without simply picking winners and losers.

The Republican party seems to have forgotten one of the guiding principles of our democracy; as their new tax plan does absolutely nothing to ensure that our government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The GOP tax plan borrows trillions from future generations to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires at the expense of our Commonwealth’s children and working families. This is entirely unacceptable and not a plan that fits the needs of Philadelphians, Pennsylvanians and Americans. It is time for the Republican party to work across party lines in a deliberate and transparent manner to create a tax plan that listens to, speaks to, and hears the needs of hardworking Americans in our neighborhoods nationwide.

Children’s Health Insurance Program

Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02) released the following statement in response to the vote on the House GOP CHIP-CHC Reauthorization bill, H.R. 3922; an incredibly, divisive partisan bill that allocates money to pay for the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and other public health initiatives by cutting funding for both the Prevention and Public Health Fund and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and raising Medicare premiums for seniors.

According to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts, Pennsylvania’s current DSH allotment is $616.27 million. Cuts to the program will reduce payments by $121.03 million, a 19.6% reduction. Currently, we have more than 176,000 children enrolled in CHIP which will soon run out of money to pay for their care. In the Second District alone, there are 8,360 children who receive healthcare coverage through CHIP.

Let’s stop the games and get something done. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice the health and wellness of one population for another; and that is exactly what this divisive GOP bill does. The bill puts healthcare for our children, our families and our seniors at risk by pitting their needs against one another. Healthcare is not a choice, it is a right. The children in our Commonwealth who rely on CHIP for their basic healthcare needs deserve more than this foolish game of politics. We need to come together, roll up our sleeves and do the right thing. I will keep fighting until we get this done for our children.

The Republican controlled House and Senate failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program which expired on September 30. Nationwide, nine million children rely on CHIP for affordable, reliable healthcare.

Congressman Evans voted “No” on the House GOP CHIP-CHC Reauthorization bill, H.R. 3922.

Congressman Dwight Evans (D PA-02) represents Northwest, West, North, parts of South and Center City Philadelphia, and the western suburbs of Narberth and Lower Merion Township. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee and House Small Business Committee. He is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Economic Development and Wealth Creation Task Force.


Local Children’s Charity on a Winning Streak

By Laurel Fairworth

Twenty-year-old Eric Salomon is really enjoying his training in commercial baking at Variety, The Children’s Charity Vocational Training program known as Variety Works. It is but one of the innovative new vocational projects geared to teaching kids and young adults a useful trade. In the past Eric would be aging out the system, but now he can continue to learn for additional years into adulthood with the goal of self-sufficiency. Eric stated “I have the opportunity to learn to do something I love that will allow me to be more independent. It’s awesome.”

The revitalization is part of CEO Angus Murray’s vision for the non-profit. Variety has been in the Philadelphia area since 1935 and its Camp and Development Center has been in existence since 1949, one of the first in our area to provide a safe place for kids with disabilities. Originally serving boys who survived polio it now supports children with temporary and permanent disabilities. The main campus sits on 80 donated acres of prime real estate in Worcester, Pennsylvania where Variety hosts a working farm. It holds summer camps, year round activities, extended school year programs, plus its first joint agricultural venture with an area institution. Promoted three years ago, Murray is seeing his ideas bear fruit.

The charity hit a rough patch almost a decade ago but has rebounded both financially and most importantly through innovative programs aimed at creating more options for those with special needs. As we close in on the charity’s 85th anniversary Variety has made an amazing comeback by bringing on board an experienced development and program director, reinvigorating the camp’s facilities, and committing to a comprehen-sive three year strategic plan to transform Variety’s entire campus.

Angus Murray has stated “It is so exciting to see the hard work our staff, families and community partners finally come to fruition to ensure Variety and our kids have a bright future.”

Murray’s game plan included bringing on other experienced professionals and forging relationships with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Philadelphia Zoo and Einstein Hospital. A pilot program is underway which will be fully operational by January 2018. In regards to the ZOO, our students grow produce which in turn is sold to the Zoo to feed the animals. In 2016 The Philadelphia Zoo purchased over $20,000 worth of produce from Variety Works. The circle is complete as monies from this effort are reinvested to fund and expand the initiative.

Vegetables and fruits grown at the farm are pesticide free, aquaponic, farm to table and are being cultivated by all the kids including those in wheelchairs. Kale, radishes, tomatoes, onions, squash, banana leaves, corn, herbs and flowers children are a sam-pling of some of the tasty items being sold.

Moving forward, the charity is in discussions with numerous food chains and high end local restaurants throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan area to provide produce and employment for the teens once they graduate from our program.

CEO Angus Murray states, “One of the parents whose child came through the program told me they had no idea their child has this hidden talent or aptitude. They were amazed and pleased and that is what we want for all our kids”

Murray explains that is exactly what drew him to the non-profit and why he wakes up each day full of creative ways to expand its reach. He vows to continue the moderni-zation of Variety until each child receives the guidance he or she requires.

Barrack Students Visit Home of the Paper Clips Project

From left to right, Maddison Barrack, Rebecca Shaid, Sarah Scheinmann and Emma Dorsch.

When their plane touched down in Tennessee, Emma Dorsch, Sarah Scheinmann, Rebecca Shaid and Maddison Barrack — four high school students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia — did not realize that they were about to embark on a life-changing experience. Representing Barrack’s Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club, the girls would be attending a dedication at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee, home of the famous Paper Clips Project. [Read more…]

Pride in Jewish Identity Under Nazi Occupation

Ladies wearing Jewish stars. Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ladies wearing Jewish stars. Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

During World War II, German authorities and their collaborators in Nazi-occupied countries forced people of Jewish descent to wear identifying badges as a way to isolate them and publicly mark them as inferior. But some chose to embrace their forced visibility and celebrate their Jewish identity by posing for professional photographic portraits while wearing the yellow star.

[Read more…]

Philly POPS 5th Annual Ball

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

More than 250 people danced to Frank Sinatra tunes played by the Philly POPS’ 65-piece orchestra at the group’s fifth annual ball. During this major fundraiser, held at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, former POPS board chairman Sal DeBunda was honored for his service, and his successor, Gary Frank, was officially welcomed into his new role.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Among the speakers was Mayor Jim Kenney, who praised DeBunda and Frank Giordano, president and CEO of the POPS, as well as the orchestra as a whole, for their contribution to children in the School District of Philadelphia. Through the POPS in Schools program, the orchestra is enhancing music education by providing instructional activities and bringing musicians into classrooms to mentor Philadelphia students. In fact, additional schools in the district that will be participating in the program were named at the ball.

Mayor Jim Kenney (center) and Sal DeBunda (4th from left) surrounded by representatives from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green, and Marc Oppenheimer.

Mayor Jim Kenney (3rd) and Sal DeBunda (4th) surrounded by people from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green and Marc Oppenheimer.

A founding resident company of the Kimmel Center, the Philly POPS is now entering its 39th year of offering concerts to the community, including July 4th Independence Week performances, and the Salute to the Military and First Responders. The POPS’ 39th anniversary season is being sponsored by Parx Casino.


Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Roz and David Marion.

Roz and David Marion.


Photos: Bonnie Squires.

Former Har Zion Cantor Feted in Atlantic City

Program book featured a photo of Cantor Wall and his late wife, Sheva, z”l.

This summer, at Atlantic City’s Rodef Sholom, a hundred people paid tribute to Har Zion Temple’s cantor emeritus, Cantor Isaac Wall, in celebration of his 100th birthday. After serving at Har Zion Temple for more than four decades, Cantor Wall moved to Ventnor, where he has spent the last 25 years of his “retirement” as cantor of Rodef Sholom. [Read more…]

The Chevra Provides Art and Community To Philly 20s And 30s Jews

Monte Carlo Masquerade at The Chevra. Photo courtesy: The Chevra

At 20th and Market, go down the road a little bit, and you’ll find an unassuming brown office building called The Chevra. But unlike the nearby bank and coffee shop, The Chevra’s purpose can’t be defined in one word.

In fact, their website does it in about 24: “multimedia venue & social network feat. a lounge, bar, stage, gallery & loft providing social, educational, spiritual, & volunteer experiences for Young Jewish Professionals & Grad Students.”

Leon Vinokur, Jon Erlbaum and Aryeh Shalom came up with the idea for The Chevra in 2002. According to Vinokur, their goal was to unite a variety of programming for young Jewish adults within one building. “We wanted to do something that was substantive and sophisticated and fun, social, and that had a really big lev, had a really big heart,” said Vinokur, who is The Chevra’s chief operating officer. [Read more…]

Two Gratz Students Produce Hip New Jewish Toys

Partners in Yom Tov Toys: Elana Gootson (left) and Jessi Sheslow (right).

Using her coursework at Gratz College, student Elana Gootson launched Yom Tov Toys in 2016 with her business partner and fellow student Jessi Sheslow. The two entrepreneurs are now producing an innovative toy that is different from anything else available on the market today — a toy that seamlessly combines kid appeal with Jewish humanitarian values.   [Read more…]

Social Group Brings Together Local 20s and 30s Jews

JPSP’s Eagles vs Cowboys Watch Party. Photo courtesy: JPSP Facebook page.

After college, Jews returning to the Philadelphia area are typically set on finding a job and home of their own. But in their 20s and 30s, they might not be as determined or abled to jump back into the Jewish community– too old to go to youth groups, but too young for programming aimed at parents and empty-nesters.

This was the problem confronting Elizabeth Stone in spring 2014. In response, alongside three other members of Maple Glen’s Congregation Beth Or, she helped found Jewish Professionals of Suburban Philadelphia (JPSP). The organization holds social events with Jewish twists across the counties surrounding Philadelphia.

[Read more…]

StandWithUs Truck Ad During Roger Waters Concert

StandWithUs/Philadelphia is running a truck ad that will circle the city of Philadelphia prior to Roger Waters’ concert on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The truck will begin its circuit in downtown Philadelphia at 12:00 PM and head to the Wells Fargo Center arriving at 6:00 PM. It will be visible to concert-goers until 8:00 PM.

The message, which will be placed all three sides of the truck reads:
Say NO to Racist Attacks Against Israel By Roger Waters!

“Roger Waters has a history of blaming only the state of Israel for the lack of peace. He supports the boycott campaign against Israel, which does not promote peace, does not create a better life for Palestinians, and whose agenda is the destruction of the State of Israel. He has even flown a helium pig with a Star of David on it during his concerts,” states Joseph Puder, executive director, StandWithUs/Philadelphia.

“Waters claims to be against all forms of injustice, but where is his outrage at the Palestinian Authority which incentivizes murder of Israeli civilians by paying subsidies to terrorists in Israeli jails and their families? StandWithUs is sending a clear message to Waters that his double standard, hatred and lies against Israel will not go unanswered,” Puder continued.