Local News

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice strives to cover events in the Delaware Valley and beyond of interest to our readers. Send your press releases, comments and suggestions to Community Editor Bruce S. Ticker community@pjvoice.org

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Indivisible: With Liberty and Justice for All

–Barbara Lerman-Golomb

Indivisible Lower MerionRecently, a group of more than 50 concerned citizens gathered at a home in Villanova for a meeting organized by Rise Up: Indivisible Lower Merion. Indivisible is a national grassroots effort that helps citizens become more civically engaged through local organizing, specifically by targeting members of Congress. [Read more…]

Shabbat Dinners Entice with a Taste of Israel

By Laurel Fairworth

Photo by Shiran Pasternak https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingi0/

Photo by Shiran Pasternak https://www.flickr.com/photos/gingi0/

Sitting around a table and sharing a meal is an easy and natural way to connect with people of backgrounds different from one’s own. That’s why the Israeli American Council (IAC) has launched Shishi Israeli, an Israeli version of traditional Shabbat dinners taking place over the next several months in Center City, the Main Line, Elkins Park and Cherry Hill, NJ. It is hoped these Shabbat celebrations will help bridge the gap between American Jews and the Israeli community. Yoni Ari, IAC Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter, says, “Friendships and the understanding of each other’s culture can take place while breaking bread and jointly savoring the Friday night tradition.” These Shabbat evenings are open to all, especially to Israeli Americans unaffiliated with a synagogue. Ari continued, “Shishi Israeli is not religious, but rather it is a joyous cultural experience showcasing an Israeli flair with food and music.”

The Friday night events feature singing, dancing, and of course copious amounts of ethnic cuisine. A traditional dinner consists of Moroccan style fish, chicken with fruit, and meatballs with hummus. “Israelis love a big table laid out with all the courses served at the same time. That way they can eat whatever they want depending on their mood,” explained Ari. “This is the typical Jewish way to welcome the new week.” It is hoped that the program will be a magnet for many families from both the Israeli and American communities, creating meaningful and during connections.

Special emphasis will be placed on the next Shishi Israeli scheduled for February 10, 2017. In honor of Tu Bishvat, donations will be collected to plant trees to replace those burned in the recent forest fires that swept Haifa. The following dinners are March 17 in Elkins Park, March 31 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia and early April at a date to be determined in south New Jersey. All of the events are in partnership with local groups which means each is unique. However they will have in common the same Israeli zest for life and Middle Eastern culinary flair.

Local Lawyers Defend Stranded Muslim Travelers

Attorney Rulla Moor offering her services at Philadelphia International Airport. Screenshot from 6 ABC News video.

Attorney Rulla Moor offering her services at Philadelphia International Airport. Screenshot from 6 ABC News video.

On Friday afternoon, January 27, President Trump entered his order banning travelers holding passports from Syria and six other Muslim countries from entering the United States, and on Saturday, top Philadelphia immigration lawyers stepped into action to help stranded travelers, including people being held incommunicado.

The Legal Intelligencer reports that lawyers from the firms Langer, Grogan & Diver and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg teamed up with HIAS and the American Civil Liberties Union to form two groups. One group went to the airport to try to help those who were detained, unable to enter the country. A second group went to work on court papers, assisted by lawyers from the immigration law firms of Landau, Hess, Simon & Choi and Green and Spiegel.

By Sunday, this volunteer effort succeeded in ending the detentions. Fully resolving the issues, however, will require substantial litigation, in which these lawyers will play a significant role.

Jewish Museum Honors Ron Rubin

Ron Rubin and Gwen Goodman, founding director of NMAJH.

Ron Rubin and Gwen Goodman, founding director of NMAJH.

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) honored real estate developer and philanthropist Ron Rubin at the 2016 Only in America Gala, held at the Hyatt at The Bellevue in Philadelphia. More than 500 people attended the fundraiser, which benefits the museum and its educational programs. Ivy Barsky, the CEO and Gwen Goodman Director of NMAJH, announced that $1.3 million had been raised in Rubin’s honor. [Read more…]

Spreading the Message of Tolerance — One Sign at a Time

An example of one of the signs created by North Park Neighbors, Chicago, Illinois.

An example of one of the signs created by North Park Neighbors, Chicago, Illinois.

“Hate has no home here” — powerful words written by two elementary school students in North Park, a neighborhood in Chicago characterized by its diversity. The students’ message — in English and five other languages — is now plastered on posters throughout their school, and, thanks to a small group of community members, on yard signs throughout the North Park neighborhood. The signs are red on one side and blue on the other, denoting that the message crosses party lines. [Read more…]

Children Teach Us Something Important on the Basketball Court

I recently went to the Wells Fargo Center to watch some kids play a pickup game of basketball. It was not your typical basketball game, however, but not because the kids were playing on the home court of the Philadelphia 76ers. This was a game involving students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr and the Al Aqsa Islamic Academy in Philadelphia. It was also the bar mitzvah project of Ari Abramovitz, a middle-school student at Barrack. [Read more…]

Governor Tom Wolf Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

By Ferne Hassan

governor_tom_wolf_official_portrait_2015Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf scored a double win for his state by signing into law a bill (HB- 2107), which combats the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign on November 4, 2016. Its most significant impact will be on prohibiting any company that seeks to do business with Pennsylvania from engaging in economic warfare with Israel, or any other trading partner with favored nation status. It also defends Pennsylvania’s economic interests against attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel.

This bipartisan bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Matthew Baker (R) with 26 co-sponsors from both parties, passed by a vote of 181-9.

“Taking a stand against the BDS movement seems especially appropriate for Pennsylvania, a state which proudly takes the lead against discrimination,” states Joseph Puder, Director, StandWithUs Philadlephia. “I am proud of Pennsylvania’s legislators and governor for opposing the economic warfare which is being waged against Israel and for once again upholding fairness and sound public policy.”

The goal of BDS is the demonization and isolation of Israel. BDS proponents often present their case in terms of justice; however, this masks the real agenda of seeking to destroy Israel rather than improve the lives of Palestinians. The movement falls clearly under the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as it demonizes, delegitimizes and holds Israel to a double standard, the only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East. This law asserts that Pennsylvania will not be a partner to discrimination and anti-Semitism.

The law also protects Pennsylvania’s economic interests. PA enjoys over $200 million in annual economic trade with Israeli entities, in addition to business done with many other partners who have commercial interests in Israel. This trade encompasses many of the state’s most important economic sectors, such as defense, technology research and development, and health sciences. Passage of HB-2107 sends a clear message to the Israeli business community that it is welcome here.

The bill does not violate any First Amendment rights. It exercises the state’s own right to choose the companies with which it will contract. It does not penalize or infringe on anyone’s private speech or conduct. Companies are free to make whatever statements they wish, even stupid or hostile things about Israel; individuals are not impacted at all. The bill simply clarifies that if an entity chooses to engage in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), then the state can exercise its right to not support that entity. Exercising such discretion with taxpayer funds is an important part of reinforcing economic interests, public policy and the basic ethical standards of government.

The U.S. government has also emphatically rejected boycotts based on national origin and interference with foreign trade policy in general. Congress has legislated against boycotts of Israel for four decades, and federal courts have ruled that economic boycotts are not protected free speech.

Pennsylvania joins twelve states that have passed such legislation and are fighting back against bigotry.

Rep. Elijah Cummings Inspires Voters and Volunteers in West Philadelphia

Pennsylvania is the keystone of the Clinton campaign’s legendary “fire wall” and maximizing the turnout in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia is key to victory in Philadelphia. Accordingly, the city of brotherly love has been graced by a who’s-who’s of luminaries in the Democratic Party.

For example, yesterday singer Katy Perry performed to a packed house at the Mann Center and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Bob Casey, Cory Booker and Madeleine Albright.

Tomorrow, it will be Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen’s turn to perform on Independence Mall, along with Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Today, campaign volunteers canvassed neighborhoods all around Philadelphia, knocking on more doors than the rest of Pennsylvania combined. They were encouraged in this effort by Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard County, Maryland. He dropped by the West Philadelphia Democratic Campaign Field Office at 1575 N. 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. After rallying the eager volunteers, he visited local churches to greet the congregants.