Jewish Community Adopts Consensus Policies

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ 14 national member agencies and 125 Community Relations Councils debated and adopted five resolutions expressing the consensus view of the American Jewish community at the JCPA’s annual Plenum in Detroit. The resolutions deal with anti-Semitism on campuses, collective bargaining, education equity, gender segregation in Israel, and hydrofracking for natural gas and oil.

  • Countering Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Activity on Campus
    This resolution calls for education about and support for the “important remedy” that is now available under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and calls on campus leaders to do more to make students safe. It embraces a range of responses to hostile campus atmospheres including dialogue, education, and legal remedies.
  • Collective Bargaining
    This resolution continues longstanding support for collective bargaining for public employees and opposes efforts to narrow or eliminate it.
  • Equal Education Opportunity
    This resolution addresses inequity in educational opportunity in public schools. This resolution calls for research, education, and community attention directed to closing the achievement gap in our nation’s public schools and heightening awareness of this issue on the national Jewish agenda.  
  • Gender Segregation in Public Spaces in Israel
    This resolution was ultimately supported by the National Council of Jewish Women along with the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox Jewish movements.   It states that enforced gender segregation in secular public spaces is inconsistent with Israel’s founding principles of equality and, at the same time, that there may be circumstances where accommodation of gender segregation may be appropriate such as the consideration of religious and cultural sensitivities in the delivery of municipal services
  • Hydrofracking
    This resolution addresses natural gas and oil extraction by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as hydrofracking.  The resolution calls for studies, disclosure, safeguards, and oversight.

Senator Stabenow Touts Food Aid in Bipartisan Farm Bill with Eye Towards Deficit Reduction

At a time of partisanship and gridlock, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, discussed her Committee’s bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Farm Bill and ensure aid goes to struggling families in Michigan and throughout the country without waste or abuse. The remarks were made to Jewish community relations leaders and professionals in Detroit for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ annual Plenum.

“This has been a moment of pride and bipartisanship,” said Stabenow of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 5-hour debate on the Farm Bill. On the nutrition assistance component of the bill, Stabenow said the “challenge is to address our greatest deficits in history while staying true to our values.” Regarding efforts to increase program accountability, Stabenow said “in this economy, every single dollar we spend must go to families in need.”

Ensuring robust funding for the nutrition title of the Farm Bill, which covers vital programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), has been a legislative priority for the JCPA. The JCPA’s advocacy efforts include the community-based Hunger Seder Mobilization and national leadership in the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group.   The JCPA has been actively involved in preventing deep cuts to programs that have kept millions out of poverty and alleviated hunger.  

JEVS Lasko College Prep Program

The Lasko College Prep Program is a program of the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service (JEVS) for Jewish high school juniors preparing to enter college.

As Penny Kardon, Director of Career Strategies for JEVS, explains,

The program is for  current juniors whose families meet a certain income eligibility requirement. This is funded by the Lasko Family Foundation, and it’s in its seventh year. It gives students an opportunity to work three days a week in the Jewish community, at a Jewish organization, and two days a week they come to JEVS Human Services’ Career Strategies Department, in the Youth Services.

More after the jump.

High School juniors, adds Kardon, “get SAT tutoring, college advising, and they have an opportunity to visit two college campuses, and they start writing their essays for the college application. We work with the family on financial aid, we help them get scholarships, and they are matched with a mentor from the Franklin C. Ash program for Jewish college students. These are kids who are already gone through the whole college application procedure, and they help them negotiate the whole college application process.”

This mentoring, says Kardon, entails the “nitty-gritty” issues of “What if you don’t like your room-mate? Or how did they pick their college? Sometimes the mentees visit their mentors in college during the year, and it gives the students a great opportunity to see (how) very successful students negotiate their college application process.”

The Lasko College Prep Program, adds Kardon, is also great for the community because “It places these kids in a Jewish organization three days a week, and they actually do the things that sometimes we don’t have the time to do, (like) data entry, answering phones, filing, working with kids, doing art projects, creating a brochure if the student has some particular graphics talents. So it’s a great opportunity for the community as well.”

“It’s a one-year program,” adds Rhonda Cohen, Coordinator of Community Relations at JEVS, “they start off in the summer, before they enter their senior year. That’s when they spend their three days a week at the Jewish placement, and that’s when they get their SAT tutoring, that’s when they get their mentor from the Franklin C. Ash college program. Once the summer ends the program continues, and they are required to work with our educational counselors until they have successfully get into college, and we work with the parents.

The Lasko program, adds Cohen, “has made the difference for families that don’t have that luxury of spending money on a college consultant or an SAT tutor. This is for low-income families in the Jewish community, and we are very proud to say we have a ninety-nine percent success rate, in seven years, of getting students into college.”

Application is available online.

Step Up For Israel: September 25 at Temple Beth Hillel Beth El

— by Lee Bender

This Sunday, September 25 at 10:00 am, the Israel Action Committee at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El is co-sponsoring with Sabra Hadassah the showing of the first of 4-part mini-series course from Jerusalem Online University (the
folks who produced the film Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus) called Step Up for Israel. The first film, which we will be showing on Sept 25 is entitled, Creation of a State.  This is very timely, given what is happening in the United Nations this week.

This course will be very informative, professional and educational.  Please come and bring your friends. Cost is only $5.00 and includes bagels and coffee. The next program, entitled, “Israel and the West” will be presented on Sunday October 30.