Apr 17, 2012

American Rabbis to Methodist Church: Don't Divest!

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Join the JCPA and experts like Israel Ambassador Michael Oren in Detroit this May
Have you registered for the JCPA Plenum? When you do, you will be joining experts such as Ambassador Michael Oren – the first Israeli Ambassador to the United States to visit the Motor City in decades.  Amb. Oren will offer his insights about Israel's challenges, the U.S-Israel relationship and community based Israel advocacy.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, will speak about what is on the Congressional docket including the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill.  This large piece of legislation governs important programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps).

Together with accomplished Jewish communal professionals like Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA-NY Federation, and young and innovative Jewish activists from Detroit, we will discuss inspiring the next generation of Jewish youth to become tomorrow's leaders.

We will explore the Jewish stake in private and public education, balancing community building with our concern for the separation of church and state, with experts Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Professor at Brandeis, Marian Stoltz-Loike, Dean of Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School, Touro, and Ted Kirsch, President of the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania.

And with the 2012 elections on upon us, Ron Kampeas, JTA Washington Bureau Chief, William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of JFNA, Richard Foltin, Director National Legislative Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, and Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Chair of the JCPA's Civility Committee, will discuss Judaism's approach to civility and its role in this year's campaign.

These are just a few of the exciting sessions we have planned, including others on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, stopping mass atrocities around the world and the social equality debates in Israel.

American Rabbis to Methodist Church: Don't Divest
Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, joined more than 1,200 American rabbis in signing a letter that is being sent to United Methodist Church delegates. The letter opposes an anti-Israel divestment resolution being considered at the Methodist Church's quadrennial General Conference which opens next week in Tampa, Florida.

Delegates at the Conference are expected to debate a resolution calling for divestment from three companies for their sales to Israel. Additional proposals of concern under consideration are support for an embargo of goods made in settlements and an endorsement of the controversial Kairos Palestine document. The Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on similar divestment resolutions when it meets two months later.  The PCUSA will also consider a resolution labeling Israel as an apartheid state.

"A letter signed by so many Rabbis demonstrates the breadth and depth of the American Rabbinate's commitment to the finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; something which cannot be achieved through divestment," said Gutow. "I am privileged to join my colleagues from all fifty states, leaders from the Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and Orthodox movements, rabbinic groups and seminaries, and some of the most influential Jewish thinkers and theologians of our time.  There is a clear rabbinic consensus - divestment efforts will tear the fabric of our interfaith relationships and undermine ongoing efforts for efforts."

The Rabbinic letter spells out the profound concern of the signatories about the one-sided nature of the divestment proposals, which "shamefully" paint Israel as a pariah nation. "For Jews, the use of economic leverages against the Jewish state is fraught with inescapable associations," the letter states. "They resonate in the Jewish consciousness with historic boycotts against Jewish companies and the State of Israel…policies that knowingly tap into the deepest fears and pain of another is, in our tradition, a serious failure of relationship."

It also spells out a commitment to a negotiated two-state solution, which includes Palestinian state building and economic development, programs of reconciliation, understanding of multiple narratives, humanitarian aid and other areas where collective action is needed to help foster peace. Divestment, the note explains, runs in opposition to these goals and "is more likely to encourage those with extreme aims" - and is so contentious that it "drowns out the real conversation about how to end the conflict."

"At a time when politics in general have become so divisive, here and abroad, our efforts should be aimed toward reconciliation," the letter continues. "Together and independently, Christians, Jews, and Muslims must give the parties to the conflict the confidence they need to move toward peace."
SNAP and the Farm Bill
Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee will talk about the Farm Bill at the JCPA Plenum in May
Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are poised to take up the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) legislation in the coming weeks. Next week the Senate is expected to unveil language for the Farm Bill reauthorization, including language on the funding of SNAP. It is rumored that a potential $4 billion cut to SNAP could be included in the Agriculture Committee's proposed language. The House of Representative's Agriculture Committee is expected to consider budget legislation that could make a $33.2 billion cut to SNAP over ten years.

The JCPA is following both of these pieces of legislation closely and working hard to advocate on behalf of hungry families and protect SNAP.

April 17, 2012
in the news
Making Words Real About Hunger: John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of NY looks at Rabbi Gutow's Food Stamp Challenge in his call for each of us to better understand hunger. 
Earth Day Heralds New Environmental Network: COEJL is excited to announce that the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Morngingstar Foundation have awarded $65,000 to start a collaborative Jewish environmental movement. 
Decrying Food Stamp Cuts: Faith in Public Life highlights the op-ed by JCPA's Rabbi Steve Gutow and MAZON's Abby Liebman in their roundup of responses by clergy and lawmakers to plans to cut SNAP. 
happening now
Virtual Vigil for Equal Treatment and Opportunity: Next week, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on Arizona's controversial anti-immigration law. Join people around the country for solidarity events. 
House Proposes Food Stamp Cuts: This week, the House of Representatives rolled out budget cuts that would reduce SNAP (food stamps) by $33.2 billion over 10 years. 
Hunger Hits Home: The Food Network is airing a first-of-its-kind documentary on childhood hunger presented in partnership with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. As we advocate for SNAP, learn more about who's helped. 

Take Action to Protect Women: Call on Seantors Reid and McConell to schedule a vote on the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act Rauthorization

Mother's Day Flower Project: When you buy a card for your Mom from JWI, you will also be helping their work for the 45,000 women and children spending Mother's Day in a battered women's shelter this year. 

about us

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is the united voice of the organized Jewish community.

For more than sixty years, the JCPA has identified issues, formulated policy, developed strategies and programs, and given expression to a strongly united Jewish communal voice. JCPA's has an unparalleled capacity to mobilize grassroots activism, through our network of 14 national and 125 local member agencies. The JCPA serves as a catalyst that heightens community awareness, encourages civic and social involvement, and deliberates key issues of importance to the Jewish community.

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