Author: PJV Contributor

Empty Chair at Supreme Court. Photo: One News Page. I’ve been struggling to collect my thoughts on this. All I can come up with is how heartbreaking it is. The Supreme Court has often (clearly not always, see e.g. Dred Scott) been a beacon of hope for political minorities asking for validation of their rights and acknowledgement of their humanity. The legislature and the executive are elected offices. They are there to express the will of the majority. But the genius of our founders was in their recognition that protecting the rights of the minority, even in the face of…

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Board Game Invented by Austin Siblings Takes on the Supreme Court, 32 Governors, and 37 State Legislatures http://pjvoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/1bdedf7c7eb2e528271380be16c34d7f_mp3.mp3 Three Austin siblings, Josh, Louis, and Rebecca Lafair, invented a board game, Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game, after growing up in a gerrymandered district (Texas Congressional District 10). They want to spread the word about gerrymandering in a fun, hands-on way. Moreover, they want to remind politicians that gerrymandering is not a game. The Lafair siblings launched Mapmaker on Kickstarter on July 10th. They reached their funding goal in only 6 hours, with support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lawrence Lessig, David Daley, and other…

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The Jewish Labor Committee spoke out against today’s decision in Janus v AFSCME Council 31. In that decision the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 40-year old unanimous decision (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education) that held that union “fair share” fees are constitutional. In Janus the court ruled that anything that a union representing public employees does to improve working conditions – any effort to improve safety in the workplace, to restrict excessive overtime, to ensure fair wages or otherwise improve workers’ lives on the job – is political and that “fair share” payments to cover these union services are…

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MyHeritage, an international family history and DNA company, has just announced that it will donate 5,000 DNA kits in an effort to help reunite parents with their children after they were separated at the U.S. border. For the DNA kits to reach the affected people, MyHeritage has begun contacting relevant government agencies and NGOs that are able to provide assistance with distributing the kits to parents in detainment facilities and to their children placed in temporary custody. MyHeritage is also calling on the public to assist with this process. Anyone who can help distribute the kits or who is in…

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The national census will take place in 2020. And then, the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative maps will go on in states across the country in 2021. Redistricting reform advocates had hoped for some guidance in this process from the U.S. Supreme Court, but in two recent cases, the court failed to opine on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering — the practice of drawing voting districts to benefit a particular political party — and instead, issued rulings on procedural grounds. Just how the 2021 redistricting process will take place in Pennsylvania now depends on what happens in the…

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As I was perusing the Ardmore Farmer’s Market for dinner ideas, a perfectly formed Maqluba, or molded savory cake made with rice, meat, and vegetables, caught my eye. It is so difficult to get this recipe to come out just right that I felt compelled to find out who the skilled cook was! Mona and Mohammed, the proprietors of Tabouli Cuisines, introduced themselves to me in flawless Hebrew. Mona and Mohammed are from the Druze community of Majd al Shams in the Golan Heights. The Druze are Unitarians, who believe that they descend from Jethro of Midian. Mohammed’s father served…

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In his latest book, author and documentarian Julian H. Preisler leads readers on a virtual Jewish-themed journey across the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Along the way, he gives us a historical introduction to each of the oldest Jewish congregations still in existence in America today, and wows us with 195 vintage and present-day images of their synagogues. Published late last year, Preisler’s book is aptly titled America’s Pioneer Jewish Congregations: Architecture, Community and History, The book depicts historic congregations from the earliest days of Colonial America up to the present day.…

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Rachel Abramowitz. Photo: Tribe 12. By Rachel Abramowitz In a person’s life, the longest time between Jewish rituals is the duration from bar/bat mitzvah to marriage. For Millenials today, that gap is only getting wider. So what does Judaism look like for young professionals when there isn’t a ritual in sight to connect them? What does Jewish community look like outside the bounds of traditional rituals? As the engagement associate for Tribe 12, a non-profit that connects 20s/30s in Philadelphia to the Jewish community, it’s my job to “mind this gap” of the young professional experience. In this interim of…

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A laptop. Photo: Raimond Spekking By Andrea Helling San Francisco-based education technology company, AltSchool, is kicking off a nationwide search to partner with innovative Jewish day schools. Thanks to a grant from Philadelphia-based Kohelet Foundation, select day schools will have the opportunity to join the growing network of schools and districts using AltSchool’s personalized learning platform, which includes access to Judaic Studies milestones built into the technology. In addition to comprehensive training and services for teachers, schools also get the unique chance to collaborate with the Pengineers and designers to help shape the tools. Longtime Jewish day school education leader,…

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Dr. Stephan Grupp. Photo: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Thirteen-year-old Emily Whitehead, who six years ago was suffering from an aggressive form of leukemia, is alive and well and in remission, thanks to the pioneering work in immunotherapy by Dr. Stephan Grupp, M.D., Ph.D., at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Grupp has since traveled throughout the world to teach doctors in other countries about using this therapy to treat children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As a result, Citizen Diplomacy International, an organization that seeks to foster connections between Philadelphia and the global community, honored Grupp this month…

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