JSPAN Presents 2012 Social Justice Award to Dr. Ernest Kahn

On December 4, JSPAN presented its 2012 Social Justice Award to Dr. Ernest Kahn. Dr. Kahn has served the Jewish Community in numerous capacities, including Director of Community Planning, Associate Executive Vice President and acting Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The award was presented to Dr. Kahn by the co-chairs of the event, David Gutin and Burt Siegel. Dr. Kahn expressed his deep appreciation for the award not only on his own behalf, but as recognition of the contribution made by professionals to the wider Jewish community.

Also addressing the gathering was Professor Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Professor of Social Justice at the University of Maryland. Dr. Reisch spoke on “The Implications of the Election for the Future of Social Welfare in the U.S.” Professor Reisch observed a need for a change in the discourse in both Washington and in the states about funding of social services and advanced the idea that the word “entitlements” — so much a part of the controversy over budget and deficits — is really a misnomer since all employees and self employed pay into Social Security and Medicare during their working years.

Welcome Supreme Court Decision On Jerusalem Passport Case

The Supreme Court of the United States directed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on the constitutionality of a case regarding whether Americans born in Jerusalem may cite Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passport.

Ari Zivotofsky and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, parents of their Jerusalem-born son Menachem, have fought for years to convince the U.S. State Department to allow their son to designate Israel as his place of birth on his passport, citing a 2002 law passed by Congress. Though the law was signed, it was never implemented due to State Department concerns that indicating “Israel” as the birthplace of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem would amount to an official U.S. statement about Jerusalem’s status.

More after the jump.

B’nai B’rith was one of 10 major Jewish organizations to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the family. “There’s no reason why Israel cannot be named as one’s country of birth. Omitting this fact changes a fundamental part of one’s identity,” said Allan J. Jacobs, president of B’nai B’rith International. “By only allowing a child to name a city, not a country, as a birthplace, is denying that child the right to have a country of origin. It should not be up to the U.S. government to determine what cities fall within the borders of a given country.”

Today’s 8-1 decision overruled lower court decisions that had argued this case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the judiciary because the courts are not responsible for determining foreign policy. State Department policy states that passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem can only identify “Jerusalem” as their place of birth, not “Israel.”

“A passport is a document of identity, not a foreign policy manifesto,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Americans born in Israel-whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the country-have the right to acknowledge Israel as their birthplace.”