JSPAN Holds Two Programs Dissecting Economic Inequality

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

For the last 70 years our economy has grown almost steadily. Until 1970, this increase in productivity was shared between growth in wages for labor and profit growth for business. Since then, virtually all the growth in productivity has gone to increase corporate profits, while wages have not even fully kept pace with inflation.

Beginning with the film “Inequality for All” starring Professor Robert Reich, and continuing with a panel discussion a week later, JSPAN has initiated its year of focus on the problems of economic inequality. The programs, held on March 9 and 16 (after a one-week snow delay), drew substantial audiences at the host site, Germantown Jewish Centre.

More after the jump.
Inequality for All is Prof. Reich’s grand statement on film of the sources, attributes and problems of economic inequality in our society. With pictures and charts, and in his own personal electric presentation, he documents an immense change in American society, particularly since 1970.

The issue, according to Reich, is not just the discouragement of workers or the toll on people and families of declining expectations and a static or sliding quality of life. The sustainability of democracy, here and in other countries, depends heavily on the existence and growth of a middle-class.

Economic inequality in this nation, while accumulating immense wealth in the hands of a few, has expanded poverty and shrunk the middle class. The expectation that life will be better in each generation has been reversed.

The second program was a panel discussion featuring Rabbi Mordechai Liebling and Benjamin Peck. Liebling heads the Social Justice Organizing program of instruction for rabbis at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote. Peck is the Federal Affairs Manager for Demos, lobbying for progressive policies in Washington DC. Ilene Wasserman, Board member of JSPAN, moderated the discussion.  

The program began with Torah study of selected texts, directed by Rabbi Liebling. He urged that we must recognize that all wealth comes from the Lord.

Biblical justice for the Jewish community included Shmita, the forgiveness of debt every seven years, as well as the limit of seven years on slavery, and the restoration of land ownership every fifty years (“the Jubilee”). These institutions tended to level wealth within the community and to prevent the accumulation of immense wealth in a few people.

Drawing on statistics compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, Mr. Peck documented the extent to which wealth has become concentrated in a few hands in America.

With the accumulation of this great wealth has come political influence and control of the political system. The government has favored wealthy corporations and individuals by such steps as the bailouts in the 2008 crisis, the provision that Medicare cannot negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, tax policies, and other examples.

Peck urges the wisdom of Warren Buffett, that his income tax rate should not be lower than that of his secretary.

Barrack Multimedia Museum of Czech Jewry opens Sunday, May 1


Opening in Partnership with Centropa coincides With Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1.

— by Beverly Rosen

Highlights: Over 70 Six-foot Story Panels, Student Videos, and Guided Tours

All during the spring trimester, Barrack Hebrew Academy 9th graders researched Czech history; the richness of Jewish life in Czechoslovakia prior to the Holocaust, including vibrant music, theater, and art scenes, in addition to daily life; the horrors of the Shoah; and life after World War II. They turned their research and photos into larger than life story panels and videos based on key historical happenings, personal family histories, and interviews with Holocaust survivors and children of survivors to create the Barrack Museum of Czech Jewry.

Pictured (left to right) are 9th graders Jacob Reich, Sarah Wolfson and Avi Gordon.

More after the jump.

The student exhibit, that will be displayed throughout the school, will be complemented by six-foot story panels from Centropa, an organization based in Vienna, Austria dedicated to keeping the memory of Jewish life alive in Central and Eastern Europe. The multi-media exhibit debuts with a Community Opening Night reception, program and guided tours by student docents on Sunday evening, May 1, 7:30 pm at Barrack and coincides with nationwide Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies. The exhibit runs through Friday, May 6

The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Igor Laufer, a special friend and member of the Akiba-Barrack family and a Czech survivor. The Opening Night program includes a student tribute to Mr.Laufer; welcoming remarks by Dr. Steven M. Brown, Head of School; greetings from Peter A. Rafaeli, the Honorary Czech Consul of Philadelphia; a presentation by Hannah Lessing, General Secretary of the Austrian National Fund for Victims of National Socialism and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor; and instrumental and vocal performances of Czech music by Barrack students.

Ninth grade docents will provide guided tours of the exhibit on May 1 and throughout the week. “Area schools and community groups will be invited to tour the exhibit,” share faculty advisers Ivy Kaplan and Lilach Taichman. “The community also is invited to Opening Night,” adds Sharon Levin, Humanities Department Chair. For details, contact [email protected]


Barrack Hebrew Academy provides a dynamic dual curriculum of college preparatory and Jewish studies to students from all Jewish backgrounds in grades 6-12.

Law & Reorder: Legal Industry Trends and Future

Bonnie Squires

A panel of prominent legal observers took part in a discussion focused on legal industry trends and the future of the profession on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Philadelphia Bar Association headquarters in Philadelphia. The program, Law & Reorder: Legal Industry Trends & the Future of the Profession,  focusing on the book by the same name, written by Deborah Epstein Henry, Esq., was co-sponsored by the Association’s Large, Mid-Size, and Solo and Small Firm Management Committees; the Women in the Profession Committee; and the Bar-News Media Committee.

The program featured an interview by Comcast television’s Lynn Doyle with Deborah Epstein Henry, author of Law & Reorder. Henry is the founder of Flex-Time Lawyers LLC. Following the interview, Doyle moderated a panel discussion with Henry; Carol Ann Petren, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, CIGNA Corporation; JoAnne A. Epps, Dean, Temple University Beasley School of Law; and Abraham C. Reich, Co-Chair, Fox Rothschild LLP.

More after the jump.


At the Philadelphia Bar Association panel discussion on legal industry trends are (left to right) Deborah Epstein Henry, Esq., author of Law & Reorder: Legal Industry Trends & the Future of the Profession; Abe Reich, Esq., former Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; and Lynn Doyle, host of Comcast television’s “It’s Your Call.”

Photo: Bonnie Squires

Topics discussed at the event included the threat to the billable hour, the rise of new models of legal practice, the morphing of large law firms, the development of talent management strategies, and the creation of work/life and women-friendly employers. The program also addressed how lawyers can successfully navigate today’s – and tomorrow’s – changing legal environment, including an emphasis on productivity, leadership, mentoring, promotion, work/life balance, transition, compensation and networking.

Law & Reorder has been endorsed by 25 legal and other industry leaders including general counsels, managing partners, law school deans, leaders of bar and women’s associations, legal industry experts, and career and work/life experts. Among the prominent leaders who have endorsed the book are the general counsels of Wal-Mart, DuPont, CIGNA, Verizon, General Electric, Allstate Insurance and the Association of Corporate Counsel. The Feb. 1 event is part of the Law & Reorder national book tour.  Among the prominent attorneys endorsing the book are Roberta Liebenberg, of Philadelphia, who chairs the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession.