Philadelphia Jewish Voice's board members celebrate winning second place for online presence in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's 2011 Newspaper of the Year Competition.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is a completely virtual organization. All of our authors are unpaid volunteers, who write because they love to do so. We run a very tight ship, with few expenses and almost no advertising.
In order to continue doing what we do, we rely on you, our readers, to contribute financially.
We expect to implement some exciting changes to our site in the coming year. Please give as generously as possible — no amount is too modest.
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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is organized pursuant to Pennsylvania's non-profit corporation law. We have tax-exempt status under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3). Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice will give away two pairs of free tickets to Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson's film adaptation of their hit comedy Jewtopia, which premieres Friday. The movie stars Ivan Sergei, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Joel David Moore, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jon Lovitz and Rita Wilson.
In order to be able to win, just click here to sign yourself or a friend up for our free weekly newsletter. Use the comment field to indicate that you are interested in a pair of tickets. Two new subscribers will be chosen at random. Each will receive a pair of tickets, good to see the film at the AMC Theater in Plymouth Meeting, Monday-Thursday during the film's run.
We at The Philadelphia Jewish Voice continuously strive for excellence. In order to improve your experience reading our publication, reach more readers and have a greater impact, we are in the process of upgrading our website. We need to raise $1,250 in order to reach our goal to make this possible. Please support us in this endeavor. No amount is too small, and every dollar raised will help us reach this very achievable goal. I hope that you will enjoy all our upcoming improvements.
Philadelphia Jewish Voice's board members celebrate being recognized with Second Place for Online Presence in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's 2011 Newspaper of the Year Competition.
All of us at The Philadelphia Jewish Voice wish you a happy and prosperous new year. It has been our pleasure to share our original content and creativity with you over the course of this past year. We are unpaid volunteers, who do this work because we love it.
Once you get your ticket for Jewish Heritage Night with the Philadelphia Soul, sign up for the Major League Dreidel tournament which will be held at 5pm before the game. Test your skills in the "Spinagoguge" - 124 people will compete, first come, first served T-shirts, hats and more to participants.
You are invited to join the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community at the Wells Fargo Center for an exciting, family-friendly evening of arena football as the Philadelphia Soul take on the Pittsburgh Power during the Soul's Jewish Heritage Night, Sunday, June 24 at 6:05 pm. In addition to the non-stop action that arena football brings, the evening will also feature kosher food and Jewish themed entertainment.
Each ticket costs $28.
Ticket prices have been reduced to $19!
Tickets can be used for Jewish Heritage night or for any 2012 Philadelphia Soul regular season home game. A portion of the proceeds will support the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
If you host a Passover Seder or two, there is a good chance that you will have a refrigerator full of unconsumed food. The principle of Bal Tashkhit (Kiddushin 32a) is basic to Jewish Law. "Bal Tashkhit" means "do not destroy." We are instructed to avoid senseless waste or damage. When I find creative new ways to serve my Passover surplus, it feels like I am performing a mitzvah! How can you get people to enjoy the uneaten fare from your festive meal? Incorporate it with the huge supply of matza and eggs that are necessary to prepare for Passover. Dress up your matza brei (fried matza) and prepare satisfying repasts for your friends and family.
In order to understand her identity, an Irish Catholic student at the University of Virginia had to follow her passion: a major in Jewish Studies
Editor's note: Anne Grant worked as editorial assistant for the Philadelphia Jewish Voice during the summer of 2011. She had to step down in the Fall when she returned to her studies in Virgina, but she continues to "tweet" for us. (Follow #PJVoice on twitter.) She was a great help, and we are still looking for someone to continue her work for us.
Bonnie Squires is a communications and fundraising consultant who has had experience with universities, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses. She was inducted into the Philadelphia Public Relations Hall of Fame in 2006, and her friend and classmate from Penn, Maury Povich, was the keynote speaker. She is the Board Secretary for the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
She writes a weekly opinion column in the Main Line Times, the oldest and largest suburban weekly newspaper. She is a photojournalist as well for publications like thePhiladelphia Public Record, and the Los Angeles Jewish Observer. Her op-eds also appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and other news papers in other cities and states.
She is a long-time advocate for social causes like early childhood education, erasing the stigma of mental retardation and mental health, breast cancer research, and other worthwhile causes.
Politics has been a life-long passion of hers, and she has served for decades as a committee person, as well as having run for office.
For several years she hosted a live call-in talk show on radio station WHAT-AM, dedicated to building bridges between African Americans and Caucasians in order to find solutions to society's pressing problems.
She loves both her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and her adopted school, Temple University, where she worked as a top administrator for many years.
Bonnie and her husband live in an historically certified English Village home in Lower Merion Township.
She was recently inducted into Governor Ed Rendell’s Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania.
Ronit Treatman was born in Israel. She grew up in Israel, Ethiopia and Venezuela. Ronit graduated from the International School of Caracas, fluent in five languages. She served in the Israel Defense forces, where she worked in the Liaison Unit to Foreign Forces. She studied at Hebrew University and Temple University, earning a degree in International Business. She currently lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with her husband and three children.
Ronit is the editor of the Kosher Table section of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. The Kosher Table invites you to explore culinary trends and ingredients, and the way they are intertwined with Jewish history, geography, and traditions. We can meet innovative people who are influencing what we eat and how we consume it. Together, we can travel around the world and experience its diverse Jewish communities, and the native flavors found in their regional culinary specialties. We can discover our local farms, artisanal purveyors, and restaurants. We can investigate cookbooks, and Internet resources by and for people who are passionate about food.
Community members who are fervent about food and love to write are invited to submit articles, comments, questions, and feedback to food @ pjvoice.com
Bruce S. Ticker of center city Philadelphia is a former reporter and editor who writes on Israel and other issues for Web sites and newspapers. He holds a day job as a municipal government employee and blogs at http://jewishconcerns.blogspot.com/. He can be contacted at community @ pjvoice.com
A Philadelphia resident, she founded and also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Reclaiming Judaism Press. She travels internationally much of the year as a teacher and student of Torah and Jewish spiritual practices, and in winter serves a four-month rabbi-in-residency for Kol HaNeshamah in Sarasota, Florida. A Covenant Foundation Award finalist for excellence as a Jewish educator, she was dubbed "Reb Goldie" by a Squarer rebbe in the Ukraine while teaching for Project Kesher post-Perestroika. Inventor and original co-anchor and producer of Health Watch for NBC TV 40, she presently teaches Jewish Bioethics and Pastoral Counseling for the Aleph Ordination Programs.
Along her life path thus far Rabbi Milgram has served as a Dean at The Academy for Jewish Religion, a Jewish Federation executive, Hillel director, pulpit rabbi, Jewish newspaper editor, religious school principal, Jewish camping innovator, founder of the nation's third Holocaust archive as well as serving at Princeton University, the 92nd St Y, Esalen, Bard & Gettysburg Colleges, Elat Chayyim, National Havurah Institute, and as a speaker, service, ritual and workshop leader in several hundred cities and many countries. She is presently passionately spearheading the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Institute Initiative, researched under a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which focuses on creating meaningful and effective ways of preparing students for Bar/Bat Mitzvah. She also heads the Reclaiming Judaism "Living a Mitzvah-Centered Life" initiative in honor of Peninnah Schram.
John Oliver Mason has written for newspapers in the Philadelphia area for over twenty years, covering such events as neighborhood associations, police-community workshops, demonstrations, friends-of-parks groups, and other community activities, writing about neighborhood people making their communities better. He is also a well-known poet.
Dan Loeb is a mathematician, publisher and genealogist. He is the publisher and founder of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. His genealogy website www.loebtree.com includes about 30,000 individuals with certain branches going back to biblical times. After completing his doctorate in Mathematics at MIT, Dr. Loeb moved to France in 1989 where he taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Bordeaux. He returned to the United States in 1996, where he is now working in statistical arbitrage for Susquehanna International Group.
Dan Loeb is a mathematician, publisher and genealogist. He is the publisher and founder of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. His genealogy website www.loebtree.comincludes about 30,000 individuals with certain branches going back to biblical times. After completing his doctorate in Mathematics at MIT, Dr. Loeb moved to France in 1989 where he taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Bordeaux. He returned to the United States in 1996, where he is now working in statistical arbitrage for Susquehanna International Group.
While our competitors can rely on subscription and ad revenue, we depend on the good will and support of our readers. Your tax-deductible donation to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice will give voice to our community.
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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice's writers conduct extensive research and analysis in order to provide relevant, meaningful content that has engaged and informed our readers since our start in 2005. We are dedicated to addressing the important social, political and cultural issues facing our community in a spirit of honesty, integrity and diversity.
Hannah Lee was born in Hong Kong to a Chinese Buddhist family; her native tongue is Cantonese. She is now a member of the Orthodox Jewish faith. Hannah has earned degrees from Brown and Columbia, with doctoral work at New York University. She lives with her family on the Main Line western suburbs of Philadelphia. Hannah maintains two blogs, A Cultural Mix and HIAS Chronicle, which you can read on her webpage. She can be contacted at: [email protected].
In September 2011, Pennsylvania State Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) proposed that Pennsylvania's electoral votes be allocated by congressional district, as opposed to the current winner-take-all basis (wherein all of Pennsylvania's electoral votes are awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes statewide in Pennsylvania). Under the district plan, the voters would elect one presidential elector for each of a state's 18 congressional districts and 2 presidential electors on an at-large statewide basis.
The district approach would magnify the shortcomings of the current statewide winner-take-all system.
The best solution is the National Popular Vote bill. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States.
OFFER ADVICE TO RESIDENTS OF THE WATERMARK AT LOGAN SQUARE
AND SHARE A SIMPLE THREE-STEP STRATEGY
TO HELP SENIORS PASS ALONG SENTIMENTAL TREASURES
Philadelphia, PA (October 18, 2011) -- Most retirees who have moved into The Watermark at Logan Square, the continuing care community in Center City Philadelphia, have edited their beloved belongings to match their current lifestyles. It's a process called "right sizing," that helps to re-organize and prioritize a lifetime of accumulated possessions. When it comes to selecting holiday décor, special tableware and linens, experts advise that keeping just a few cherished pieces --- and passing along all the rest --- makes the remaining keepsakes even more precious.
"It's amazing how the sight of a few sentimental items can conjure up a whole lifetime of happy memories, " explains Adele Fine, a Center City interior design consultant whose clients include retirees moving out of larger homes. "A few key pieces can still fill a room. Not with possessions but with stories and conversation." According to Marlene Stocks, a principal of Senior Transition Services of Huntingdon Valley, PA, "When empty nesters use the holidays as their opportunity to pass along cherished items, it can be a happy time that fits right in with the spirit of the season."
Both experts acknowledge that items associated with family traditions carry extra emotional freight. "Confronting what to do with decades of sentimental possessions can be daunting," says Stocks, who has assisted clients in their moves to The Watermark at Logan Square. "Yet, from a purely practical point of view, seniors admit that holiday items and special tableware can be physically hard to manage, no matter where they live. Often, they're prized pieces that require high maintenance or they're packed-away much of the year and elders need help carting them out and putting them away again."
Adele Fine and Marlene Stocks offer this three-step approach to making the process of "right sizing" successful and less stressful. Each tip is designed to put into action during this 2011 holiday season to set the stage for simpler joys in 2012.
A good first step is identifying the things that are impractical. Adele Fine says that this often helps seniors work through the sentimental stage more quickly. Here is her advice:
· "If you can't lift it easily anymore, you probably don't need it anymore" says Fine, about large roasting pans, sturdy carving boards and massive serving platters. "If you've made enough 20-pound turkeys over the years, by now some of your past guests would surely love to return the hospitality."
· Open up the "good china" and keep four place settings, six at most. Keep only one "everyday" plate and favorite mug for each person in the household and pass long the rest. "It's your time in life to treat every day as a special occasion."
· After editing the sterling silver, use it every day. "It's an old wives' tale that you can't put it through the dishwasher."
· Select only one set of linens that fits the current table and let the others go. "Display it every day," instead of putting it back in the drawer.
· As for holiday décor itself, Fine suggests Christmas celebrants keep the tree-topper and one or two meaningful ornaments. For those observing Hanukkah, one menorah and one dreidel can link all the happy holidays of the past with those yet to come. "A few pieces allow them to touch some joy in the transition," says Fine.
The second step involves strategies for passing on the extra items. Marlene Stocks, an expert in senior relocation, shares a few of her recommendations:
· For those who typically make baked goods for loved ones and deliver them in tins from the dollar store, she suggests, "Present them in your beautiful vases, as if they're elegant cookie jars, or displayed on your decorative platters. Explain that you're passing on your heritage as part of your gift."
· Open up that box of favorite ornaments and wrap the special ones as presents. "Explaining to an important person why you selected this particular piece for them is a delightful way to pass on a treasured item."
· When drying the dishes after the next holiday meal, seniors should have the storage cartons and tissue paper ready to pack up the extras, right then and there. "Since you're handling it all anyway, this presents an ideal opportunity to get a head start on 'right-sizing' for the future," Stocks explains. "Just return a reduced set of dinnerware to the hutch and box up all the additional china, stemware, linens and silver you really don't need. Now it's all ready to pass along, sell for cash or donate to a worthy charity."
Reflecting on the process, Stocks comments, "I have so many clients who look back on their hesitation and say 'Why did I wait so long?' I hear it all the time."
The third step is encouraging seniors to find gratitude in their hearts for all that those possessions have meant and enjoy the prospect of simplifying their lives. "If you've enjoyed giving to others throughout your lifetime, then recognize that simplifying your surroundings can be a gift you give as well," explains Fine. "You give your family peace of mind. You give yourself freedom. Plus, you give yourself the satisfaction of knowing what became of things you have treasured. You managed it yourself. And that can be very satisfying."
The Watermark at Logan Square, located close to cultural attractions in Center City Philadelphia, tailors programs to meet and exceed the expectations of each resident. Living at The Watermark at Logan Square comes with abundant choices and opportunities. Comprised of Independent and Assisted Living apartments, a Skilled Nursing Center, and a Memory Care Center, The Watermark at Logan Square offers a full continuum of care in a luxurious, maintenance-free setting. The Watermark at Logan Square is located at Two Franklin Town Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For more information, call 215-240-8915 or visit www.watermarkcommunities.com/logansquare.
Watermark Retirement Communities has provided successful, progressive and engaging senior housing across the country for more than 20 years and is committed to creating extraordinary communities where people thrive. For more information, please visit www.watermarkcommunities.com.
Philadelphia, PA (October 12, 2011) - Seniors who saved their money to enjoy an active retirement, who want to protect their nest egg and grow it, will benefit by attending three free Lunch & Learn programs all focused on finances. Guests can attend one, two or all three of these sessions. They take place during the month of November at The Watermark at Logan Square retirement community in Center City Philadelphia.
Starting on Tuesday, November 1 at 11:30 a.m., Jeanette Mastroieni-Cave, President of Senior Supportive Services, presents "Afraid of Outliving Your Money?" This Lunch & Learn program presents strategies for seniors to stretch their dollars with alternate sources of income, in an environment of rising interest rates.
The next Lunch & Learn is on Thursday, November 10, at 11:30 a.m. Henry B. Bennett of New York Life guides seniors on "Making the Most of your Legacy Gifting and Charitable Giving." He explains options for protecting assets from estate taxes, to pass on wealth. He'll also address ways to leverage charitable giving into much larger endowments.
On Thursday, November 17 at 11:30 a.m., the Lunch & Learn program focuses on day-to-day budgets impacting seniors, with a program called "Spend & Enjoy Your Retirement Without the Fear of Running Out of Money" presented by Charles Coyle from Independence Planning Group.
All three programs are free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Advance registration is required. The Watermark at Logan Square is located just off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Two Franklin Town Boulevard in Philadelphia. To attend or learn more, please call The Watermark at 215-240-8915.
Located close to cultural attractions in Center City Philadelphia, The Watermark at Logan Square tailors programs to meet and exceed the expectations of each resident. Living at The Watermark at Logan Square comes with abundant choices and opportunities. Comprised of Independent and Assisted Living apartments, a Skilled Nursing Center, and a Memory Care Center, The Watermark at Logan Square offers a full continuum of care in a luxurious, maintenance-free setting. The Watermark at Logan Square is located at Two Franklin Town Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For more information, call 215-240-8915 or visit www.watermarkcommunities.com/logansquare.
Watermark Retirement Communities has provided successful, progressive and engaging senior housing across the country for more than 20 years and is committed to creating extraordinary communities where people thrive. For more information, please visit www.watermarkcommunities.com.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) today expressed concern over the appearance of controversial religious broadcaster Pat Robertson at a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday. Robertson is known for his offensive and outlandish remarks and the Romney campaign's decision to host him confirms that Romney is just one of many extremist candidates seeking the GOP nomination. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
"Mitt Romney -- the ultimate political chameleon -- has strived to be known as one of the more moderate among this field of Republican presidential candidates. Yet by associating with Pat Robertson he has chosen to pander to extremists who refuse to separate church and state, and worse. If associating oneself with Pat Robertson is the Republican Party's version of 'moderate,' let alone a litmus test for Evangelical support, their field of 2012 candidates stands precious little chance of winning the Jewish vote."
Dignity characterized Philadelphia's Gay Pride Parade yesterday. Each group marching past the review stands at Independence Mall stood tall and in the thousands, reflecting a growing and strong array of social service, religious and artistic, family and corporate support for equality across the full range of gender.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice was on the scene with a substantial booth at the six hour Penn's Landing party into which the parade participants and observers poured. Why? Rabbi Janet Marder put the matter most succinctly to my mind in the October 1985 issues of the Reconstructionist Magazine: "Reverence for tradition is no virtue when it promotes injustice and human suffering."All afternoon long, Jews and non-Jews of all ages and gender orientations came over to appreciate and explore our Jewish presence. We could see representatives of Beth Ahavah, the Delaware Valley's only gay and lesbian synagogue, as busy as we, across the courtyard.
The progress in GBLTQ acceptance in Jewish life is substantial, albeit incomplete and insufficient. Since the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College led the way with unconditional ordination of gay and lesbian students in 1984, all the movements, save for for Orthodoxy have found their way to inclusive rites and ordinations. A few summers back National Havurah Institute offered programming to raise awareness of the leadership, challenges and needs of transgender Jews. In Jewish Renewal inclusion has long been manifest and encoded within its ethical platform.
"I'm so glad you're here," was what we heard over and over at the parade yesterday. We're offering a free raffle through the end of June with one of the prizes a free commitment ceremony with trimming donated from the flowers, cake, clothes and more.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice will be giving away a fabulous commitment ceremony/wedding package and other prizes this month! For a chance to win, simply join our free mailing list or update your registration. You can register online at http://www.pjvoice.com/subscribe.htm or sign up in person at the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s table at the Philadelphia Pride Parade this Sunday, June 12 from noon to 6pm on Penn’s Landing.
The grand prize is transferable, so even if you are not personally planning on tying the knot, this prize is a terrific present to celebrate the union of your friends.
Grand Prize: Commitment Ceremony Package ($9,000+ value) including:
Preparation Sessions Six free hour-long planning sessions with Rabbi Milgram for the couple (and wedding planners, musicians, garment, food and invitation designers, etc. if desired), in person or phone/Skype/webcam depending on availability. Rabbi Milgram will facilitate creation of custom-designed ritual, vows and contract of spiritual commitment to complement your legal documents. These sessions will include spiritual support for your relationship which can be an open non-religion-specific spirituality or Jewish.
Consolation Prizes: All subscribers who enter their complete address will be mailing an “I read the Philadelphia Jewish Voice” bumper sticker, so that you can show your support of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.
Honorable Chairmen and members of the committees, thank you for holding these hearings and for inviting me to speak to you today. Holding hearings like this is an important first step in including the public in this crucial part of our democratic process.
Public oversight is a crucial part of the checks and balances necessary to ensure that redistricting process is not abused to advantage any political party, protect incumbents, or punish political rivals. Democracy requires competitive elections and representative government.
In a democracy, voters choose their representative to protect the common interest. Unfortunately, we have grown accustomed to a system of gerrymandering which turns democracy upside-down so that it is politicians who choose their voters strategically in order to advance their personal interests rather than the other way around.Packing the voters into a small number of districts in order to isolate them. (Figure 3) Cracking voters across multiple districts in order to dilute them. (Figure 4) And counting convicts where they are imprisoned rather than where they usually live. In a state like Pennsylvania where the process is totally controlled by a single political party, there may be a temptation to engage in partisan gerrymandering unless the media and the public are vigilant in their oversight.
Even when Democratic and Republican politicians share power, there is a possibility of mutually agreeable "sweetheart" gerrymandering as Democrats and Republicans engage in unseemly exchanges of constituents with the Democrat legislator offering up his Republican voters in exchange for his Republican colleague's Democratic voters. (Figure 2)
In order to encourage public participation in the redistricting process, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and its partners - the Jewish Social Policy Action Network, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause Pennsylvania - hope to run a Redistricting Content similar to those run in Virginia and Ohio and being run in Michigan, Arizona and Massachusetts.
The idea is to make Azavea's DistrictBuilder, Redistricting Software, and the underlying geographic, demographic and electoral data available freely on the Internet. We now have the technology to allow everyone to have a say in the redistricting process.
The Pennsylvania Redistricting Contest will be judged by impartial numerical criteria measuring:
equality, continuity, integrity, competitiveness, proportionality and compactness.
Equality. The principal of one-man, one-vote is enshrined in the Voting Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Constitution. We will not allow districts to deviate from their ideal population range and we will reward plans which promote higher standards of equality. Furthermore, we will require that majority-minority districts be maintained as required by the Voting Rights Act.
Contiguity. Each district must be contiguous and not contain any parts which are connected to the other parts at a single point.
Integrity. The Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits legislative districts which divide any "county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward...unless absolutely necessary." By minimizing splits, voters understand easily who their representative is, and township and county officials do not have to interface with as many legislators. Our contest will penalize redistricting plans which unnecessarily divide these communities of interest.
Competitiveness. Gerrymandering undermines the democratic process by creating uncompetitive districts. When 90% of an incumbent's constituents belong to his political party, the incumbent is guaranteed reelection and no longer has any incentive to be responsive to the needs of his constituents. Non-competitive districts make everyone's vote irrelevant and reduce accountability. Our contest will penalize plans which create these sorts of lopsided districts.
Proportionality. The goal of partisan gerrymandering is to deliver a disproportionate share of the representation of the state into the hands of the political party controlling the redistricting process. In Pennsylvania, there are over 4 registered Democrats for every 3 registered Republicans, yet,Democrats only hold 37% of the Congressional delegation, 40% of the State Senate, and 45% seats in the State House.
Compactness. Bizarre shaped districts are a tell-tale sign that a map-makers is up to no good extending tentacles out of a district of their supporters to encompass his residence, or excising a community of opponents in order to secure his reelection. Our contest classify districts whose perimeter is disproportionately long compared to its area, and penalize redistricting plans accordingly.
Our hope is that the State Government Committees, Legislative Reapportionment Commission, and independent groups interested in political reform will support this initiative and help us make the DistrictBuilder software available to the general public.
Making tools like these available to the public as Florida and Alaska has value even in the absence of a contest.
However, we look forward to determining the best plan and promulgating it as an unbiased baseline against which the legislature's plans can be compared.
I am honored to join the Jewish Voice as the new Arts and Culture Editor. I welcome you to send me any news you might have regarding the vibrant arts and culture scene here in Philadelphia. If you have books to review, theatre productions, music, museum exhibits please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
I moved to Philadelphia from Manhattan four years ago to work at Temple University where I am an Assistant Professor in English. I teach creative writing in poetry and literature. I grew up in Long Island and always dreamed of moving to New York City, but to quote short story writer, Anne Beattie, "I became disenchanted with New York when I realized that I felt as if I had accomplished something when I picked up the laundry, and got the Times and a quart of milk." In Philadelphia, it's just easier to get things done — a walkable, beautiful city brimming with culture and art.
(The Pennsylvania Legislature's House State Government Committee and Senate State Government Committee are holding a joint hearing on redistricting tomorrow at 11am at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. These committee are responsible for the Congressional redistricting plan which will be used starting with next year's elections. After opening remarks by the committee chairmen Sen. Chuck McIlhinney and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, several groups have been asked to offer testimony regarding the upcoming redistricting.
I am honored to be speaking on the behalf of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. Lora Lavin will be speaking on behalf of The League of Women Voters. The event is open the public and members of the audience will be given an opportunity to comment as well. -- Dr. Daniel E. Loeb - promoted by Publisher)
-- by Lora Lavin, Representative Government Specialist, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
Left unchecked: politicians choose their voters instead of letting voters select their representatives.
Gerrymandering is the equivalent of rigging elections to get a predetermined outcome.
We believe some good old-fashioned competition can keep politicians honest.
The biggest political power-play of the decade is about to get underway in Pennsylvania. It is, perhaps, the most self-serving and least transparent process of state and local government. It's called redistricting. The outcome will determine the shape of representative democracy in Pennsylvania for the next decade.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing congressional, legislative, and local government representatives' district boundaries so that each district has approximately the same number of people. The goal is to ensure communities have an equal voice in Congress, state legislatures and city and township councils.
But the politicians don't see it that way. In Pennsylvania and most other states, district lines are drawn by the very lawmakers whose political careers will be affected by the changes. For them, redistricting is an opportunity to consolidate political power and ensure their reelection prospects. For example, Philadelphia's 172nd House District was transformed during the previous redistricting in order to guarantee the reelection of a powerful legislator. It was only after a political scandal that he was eventually defeated last year.
Modern technology makes this kind of extreme gerrymandering possible. Using expensive and sophisticated software, politicians can select their voters block by block and even house by house. The tools they use are "proprietary" meaning access is limited to those with the ability to pay lots of money. But now, a Philadelphia based software firm, Azavea, in partnership with a political science professor at George Mason University in Virginia, has developed DistrictBuilder. This relatively inexpensive open-source redistricting tool can be used by ordinary citizens to draw district maps and bring elections back into the hands of the people.
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, in partnership with JSPAN, Common Cause/PA and the PA League of Women Voters want to use DistrictBuilder to sponsor a redistricting competition and demonstrate that a non-partisan, open redistricting process based on objective criteria can produce fair legislative and congressional district maps in Pennsylvania. The competition would be open to individuals. The winners would be selected through an objective scoring system based on anti-gerrymandering criteria of compactness, competitiveness, representativeness, equality and integrity.
The three sponsoring organizations can contribute $6,000 toward prizes and incidental competition costs. But to use the software we need to raise $35,000 before May 1. Can you help? To make a tax-deductible contribution click the button or contact [email protected] (Contributions directed to this project will be refunded if we do not meet our fundraising goal.)
For more information or become a co-sponsoring organizations, please contact Dan Loeb [email protected]
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is an online non-profit volunteer based community newspaper serving the Philadelphia Jewish Community since 2005. We are dedicated to addressing the important social, political and cultural issues facing our community in a spirit of honesty, integrity and diversity.
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