Gun Violence Prevention Rally in Montgomery County

— by Michael Barrett

Montgomery County residents rallied for Gun Violence Prevention and urged swing-district Congressman Jim Gerlach (R PA-6) to cosponsor the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013” HR 1565 to keep guns out of dangerous hands.

The event was part of Organizing for Action’s statewide day of action called “Hands Across Pennsylvania.” At 12:30 residents joined hands to show solidarity in preventing gun violence.

Family Food Distribution Day Helps 220 Needy South Jersey Families

Collaboration between Golden Slipper Club & Charities and Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service Brings 253 Volunteers Together to Help the Cause


Volunteers line up to prepare boxes of food for those in need in South Jersey.

— by Scott D. Bluebond and Lara Barrett

(VOORHEES, NJ) Golden Slipper Club and Charities and Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Southern New Jersey (JFCS) hosted the first Family Food Distribution Day in Voorhees on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Volunteers traveled to warehouse space donated by NFI Industries in Voorhees, New Jersey to help to pack and deliver supplemental food boxes to over 220 families in need in Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Cumberland Counties in South Jersey. The day represented a way to give back to the community, family style, for volunteers from toddlers to senior citizens.

More after the jump.


Volunteers from Golden Slipper Club & Charities and Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Services load cars for food deliveries.

155 adults and 98 children came out to support this cause. A long line of yellow volunteer shirts weaved throughout the warehouse — each person with a smile, a heart full of giving, and an arm full of food.Children who were not busy packing food were able to enjoy a special craft activity about food and charity. The day was as meaningful to the volunteers as it was for those who received a box at their doorstep. Family Food Distribution Day was a huge success, and another such day is sure to follow. Over $4,000 worth of food was delivered.

Family Food Distribution Day is just one of the many ways that Golden Slipper Club & Charities helps out the community. Others include activities for seniors, camps for children, and emergency grants for those in need. Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) of Southern New Jersey offers senior homecare and support, special needs programs, mental health counseling, and food pantries. JFCS also offers support groups and community seminars offer coping strategies and help individuals, couples, and families learn new and effective ways of dealing with the challenges and transitions in their lives.


Golden Slipper Club & Charities chair of the board Steve Frishberg helps keep the volunteers organized.

Golden Slipper Club & Charities, celebrating 90 years in 2012, has taken a hands-on approach to support programs and services for the Greater Philadelphia area’s youth, needy and elderly, with some 600 active men and women who volunteer their time to serve people in need. Golden Slipper’s motto is charity, good fellowship and loyalty, first and foremost, in all its endeavors. It provides charitable services to those in need in the community. Golden Slipper Camp sends approximately 600 children to overnight camp in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. Golden Slipper Center for Seniors provides a daytime activities facility which offers social and recreational activities and meals for over 300 senior citizens. Other programs offered to help the community include HUNAS (Human Needs and Services)
which gives emergency grants to those in need and the Slipper Scholarship Program, which provides college scholarships to deserving and promising young students.


Golden Slipper Club member Janet Levine pitches in.

Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) of Southern New Jersey has been providing comprehensive, caring social services to South Jersey residents of all ages, faiths, and economic backgrounds – strengthening the individual, the family, and the community, for over 65 years. JFCS is dedicated to helping people successfully meet the challenges of daily life. They are a nonprofit human services agency that provides quality, affordable, and accessible social services to Jewish individuals and families in need. JFCS places the highest value upon treating people with dignity and respect and are guided by the Jewish tradition of helping people help themselves. JFCS services are available to residents of Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties in Southern New Jersey. No one is ever turned away because of financial hardship.

Group Picture (L-R): GSC volunteers in front in yellow shirts: Barbara and Steve Frishberg,
Megan Gilberg, Robin Cohen, and Brian Gilberg. JFCS volunteers in back in green shirts:
Jessica Gomel-Veksland, Steven Veksland, Mike Staff, and Michael Veksland.

Wisconsin Bombshell: Governor Scott Walker Under Investigation

— by Joe Magid

The criminal corruption probe swirling around Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who faces a now neck-and-neck recall election tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5, are swirling ever closer if recent reports regarding progress of the investigation are accurate. As reported in the Huffington Post, Walker vehemently denies he is now a target of the investigation, however, according to the Journal Sentinel, Walker has admitted putting $160,000 in a legal defense fund, including a $100,000 transfer from his campaign account. It has further been reported that Wisconsin law permits the creation of such a fund by an elected official only “if they, or their agent, are under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance and election laws.”

Walker has clearly stated that the fund will not be used to defend any of his “agents”, the six aids now under indictment (in addition to thirteen granted immunity from prosecution), leaving one to conclude that there is an obvious conflict between the law coupled with his actions and statements regarding the fund and his denials regarding the state of the investigation.

In addition, David Shuster of Take Action News and Current TV has posted a report stating that “government lawyers familiar with a Milwaukee criminal corruption probe, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is now a ‘target’ of the investigation.”

[Read more…]

The Torah of Wisconsin


— Elissa Barrett and Aryeh Cohen

In the streets of Madison, we can hear the echoes of Torah. From Moses to Maimonides to modern day Rabbis across the country, Jews have a long and lively history of supporting the rights of working people. Rabbis Bonnie Margulis and Jonathan Biatch recently reported from Wisconsin that standing for worker’s rights is “absolutely” the Jewish thing to do. Now is a good moment to ask ourselves, why?

For the past 150 years, labor unions have formed the backbone of progressive movements for social change. In Egypt, the winds of change blew hardest when workers from Alexandria to Aswan joined the youth revolution. In America, unions are woven into the story of empowerment for countless generations of immigrant workers, Jews among them, and the struggle of American minorities-from the sanitation workers of Memphis in the 1960s to the janitors of Los Angeles today.

More after the jump.
The issue in Wisconsin is no longer about budgeting or steep cuts in wages and benefits-the unions and Governor Scott Walker are in full agreement there. When Governor Walker began targeting the ability of public employees to bargain collectively for their common good, he targeted our country’s most fundamental labor right: the right to a voice on the job. Our Jewish tradition urges us to see this as a shofar call to action.

It is no coincidence that the first lessons we receive after being freed from slavery in Egypt are on the treatment of workers. “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger… You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets… else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt” (Deuteronomy, 24:14-15). The third century mishnah and tosefta instructs employers to meet or exceed local custom in terms of wages and benefits, and the Babylonian Talmud gives town residents the right to intervene between a local employer and a worker to insure that wages are fair. All this is codified by centuries of commentaries, Talmud scholars and jurists.

Contemporary Halakhic (Jewish legal) decisions continue this strong tradition.

In 1938, Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Chai Uzziel, the Rishon le-Tziyon (Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel), wrote: “It is obvious that the Sages, of blessed memory, recognized the regulations of a craftsman’s guild or union of laborers or clerks in the general labor federation, or other federations of professionals.” Rabbi Uzziel explicates this further: “Reason also dictates that we should not leave the worker alone, isolated as an individual, so that he would have to hire himself out for minimal wages in order to satisfy his and his family’s hunger with bread and water in meager quantities and with a dark and dank apartment. In order to protect himself the law gave him the legal right to organize, and to create regulations for his fellows for the fair and equitable division of labor amongst them and the attaining of dignified treatment and appropriate payment for his work-so that he might support his family at the same standard of living as other residents of his city.”

And Rabbi Uzziel was not alone. In 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, a leading Israeli Ashkanzi scholar and posek (authoritative adjudicator of questions related to Jewish law), recognized the right of workers to organize and to have their regulations and rules seen as binding. He also recognized, in certain conditions, their right to strike. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), a Lithuanian Orthodox rabbi, scholar and posek, concurred in a series of Responsa that extended Rabbi Waldenberg’s holding to include the right of workers to prevent scabs from doing their jobs and to include the rights of religious school teachers to bargain collectively, even though community funds and the religious obligation to teach Torah were at stake. In May 2008, a Responsa by Rabbi Jill Jacobs was passed by the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, calling on Jewish organizations and synagogues to allow collective bargaining by their employees.

In sum, Jewish tradition has been clear and consistent-the treatment of workers and their right to organize are among the basic underpinnings of a just society. From the synagogue to the state house, Jews must therefore call on those who govern to find the path toward economic justice regardless of how difficult that road is to travel. Our heritage, as the sweatshop workers and copper miners of yesterday, bears witness to it. Our tradition compels it.

Reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

Elissa Barrett is the Executive Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.  Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, author of the forthcoming Justice in the City: Toward a Community of Obligation (Academic Studies Press), is a past President and current member of the PJA board of directors, and an Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at American Jewish University.

Photo: Rabbi Renee Bauer, director of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin, addresses protesters at a prayer vigil at the capitol building in Madison, Feb. 22, 2011. (Courtesy Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice)