NCJW : The NCJW Insider

NCJW Gets Bold on Capitol Hill with All* Above All

By Joni Cohan, NCJW Inc. Board Vice President and NCJW Greater Dallas Section member

NCJW NLIRH and Lilith Fund w Rep Sheila Jackson LeeIn mid-September, I flew half way across the country, from my home in Dallas to Washington, DC, to join a coalition effort seeking an end to a policy that has harmed women for 38 years too long, known as the Hyde Amendment. This event was coordinated by the All* Above All campaign, which unites individuals and organizations to end bans like Hyde, a federal policy which has restricted Medicaid from covering abortion since it was first passed by Congress in 1976. Since then, it has seeped into other federal programs. People who are enrolled in the Medicaid program in most states, as well as federal employees, military service members, and even contractors whose insurance is provided by the federal government, cannot receive coverage for abortion care.


#WeMatter: Workplace Policies and Women's Economic Security

When news broke that her daughter was pregnant, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked whether she couldCAP Conference potentially run for president of the United States as a grandmother. As so many other career-driven women with families have, she faced the question: can you have it all?

Although Secretary Clinton should never have been asked if she could balance her role as grandmother and her career trajectory, for countless other women the answer is simply, “no.” The demands of providing care and an income for a family are impossible to juggle, in large part because workplace policies start with the assumption that households have one full-time worker and one full-time caregiver.


Big Wins for NCJW Advocacy in California

by Claire Lipschultz, California State Policy Advocate 

An earlier Insider NCJW blog described 2014 California Lobby Days in which over 60 NCJW members from across the state lobbied in Sacramento on behalf of bills that impacted the lives of women, families and children. However, many NCJW lobbying efforts preceded and followed this important day of advocacy. In addition to walking the halls of the Capitol, Sections’ members and the SPAs engaged in sustained advocacy efforts at the local and statewide level throughout the legislative process. Beginning with the very first committee hearing and continuing until bills sat on the Governor’s desk, lawmakers and their staff heard from NCJW members.  Section Policy Advocacy leaders and the SPAs mobilized members to send letters and emails, make phone calls and sign petitions to make our voices heard. We met with staff and legislators in Sacramento and at in-district meetings to discuss our bills of interest, and attended committee hearings to give testimony. Locally, we educated the broader community on issues to generate support for our positions, and added our voice to partner coalitions.


Reality Check: Voting Rights are at Risk Everywhere

by Cheryl Berenson, NCJW Washington State Policy Advocate

I am the child of a “Greatest Generation” father. My dad was a World War II Navy pilot and completed his higher education with help from the GI Bill. The hard and fast rule in our house was: vote. There were no two ways about it; if you had not voted, you did not admit it to my father. I believe strongly, just like my dad, that every voter and every vote counts. He passed on his belief that voting is one of the most important civic responsibilities in our democratic society.

So, it never occurred to be that some people in our community – here, even in Washington State – might face discrimination and other obstacles that prevent them from casting a ballot.


Throwback Thursday: How Far we've come on Immigration Reform

The still-broken US immigration system continues to affect cities, towns, and communities across the country.

Despite the absence of progress by federal lawmakers – and perhaps in spite of this absence –debate and discussion about the chances for successful reform have not waned. The broad coalitions working to advance practicable solutions have made great strides politically. And in several important ways, like expanding in-state tuition eligibility and local protest against dangerous federal policies, they have improved the experience of living as an undocumented person in the US.

But pursuing a goal like immigration reform can be exhausting. For inspiration to forge ahead, it’s worth reflecting on the last two years and how far the country has come on immigration reform.

In 2012, a presidential candidate described his position on immigration reform as “self-deportation,” a strategy that would use policies and identification systems to make it impossible for undocumented immigrants in the US to find work and therefore drive them to leave the country. Only a year later, a bipartisan group of eight senators announced their intention to unveil a comprehensive immigration package, one that NCJW supported: S 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

This senate bill would provide a path to earned citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US, as well as overhaul the visa, employment verification, and border security systems. Although not perfect, it was a good start to addressing a long-overlooked problem.


Time to #FixHobbyLobby – Because Our Health and Rights are No Laughing Matter


What do an arts and crafts store, a furniture manufacturer, and a fresh produce distributor have in common? While I wish this was the opening to a good joke, the sad reality is that each one is a private business that has been allowed to assert a religious objection to withhold birth control coverage from their workers as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (Hobby Lobby). In its June 2014 decision, the Court held that certain private companies can use religion to discriminate against workers by denying them basic healthcare that is guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The consequence of this ruling is no joke, either. While Hobby Lobby originated from claims over a few specific forms of birth control, the Supreme Court’s ruling applied to all forms of contraception. What’s more is that they didn’t limit birth control as the only benefit a company could refuse to cover, meaning that denying workers birth control may just be the tip of the iceberg. Other health benefits – mental health care, immunizations, and HIV/AIDS treatment, among others – could be next. All of this doesn’t even approach what could happen if the wall of separation between religion and state continues to be torn down, as this 3-minute Coalition for Liberty and Justice video shows.


We Were Bold for Reproductive Justice: Rallying with the Be Bold Road Trip

by Maya Paley, NCJW LA Director of Legislative and Community Engagement

All Above All Road Trip LA

I spent this past Saturday at the first stop of the All Above All Be Bold Road Trip, a national campaign to speak out for reproductive justice and bring attention to the need to guarantee abortion coverage for low income women nationwide. NCJW is a partnering organization of All Above All, whose mission is to unite organizations and people to “build support for lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage.”


Restoring Civil Rights: A Jewish Tradition and Responsibility

By Sara Lewis, NCJW Legislative Intern

Throughout my elementary years of Sunday School, I participated in countless mitzvah (good deed) projects coordinated by my synagogue and various community youth groups. I have vivid memories of visiting nursing homes, preparing meals for the homeless, and sending letters to both American and Israeli soldiers. I remember learning about tzedaka (charity), tikkun olam (repair of the world), and social justice. Though I understood the surface meaning of those terms, I wasn’t able to connect Judaism to the social responsibility of helping others. It was not until I developed a passion for women’s rights as a high school student, and later emerged as a campus activist for social change in college that I began connecting cultural Judaism to my identity as a progressive-minded woman. As a Jewish social justice advocate, I recognize the values of equality, compassion, justice, and empowerment. Rather than understanding my Jewish values apart from my values as an intersectional feminist, I see them as an intertwined unity that drives my passion for universal equality and civil rights. Being able to lay out this system of personal values has enabled me to understand why Jews have historically been influential leaders of resistance movements against racism, sexism, religious oppression, homophobia, and other societal threats against human rights. I recently had the opportunity to learn about one monumental historical event where Jewish people assisted in an effort to effect positive social change, the Freedom Summer of 1964.


The Human Face of Deportations

by Judy Eigenfeld, NCJW Ohio SPA

An art project celebrating 
undocumented immigrants. 

I rallied for Alberto Ramos Gallegos. Why?

I spent two hours on the highway to attend a demonstration in support of an undocumented worker, Alberto, a husband, father of three, and an Ohioan for 24 years. The demonstration was held to highlight the second time Alberto was held in detention this year, then awaiting deportation as a result of a simple traffic stop.  His family and his community supporters gathered to protest outside of the Federal Building in Erie, PA and passersby lent their encouragement. Albert’s lawyers and community organizers were inside, arguing in front of a judge and federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Inside The Supreme Court: The Hobby Lobby Decision

by David Blumberg, NCJW Washington, DC Office, Legislative Intern

David Blumberg, Legislative Intern

With blankets, snacks, a water bottle, and a change of clothes surrounding me, I was prepared to pull an all-nighter.  I went over 24 hours without sleep to be ready for something very important.  No, there was no test in the morning, but rather I was in line to get into the Supreme Court on June 30, the last day of the term.  The Justices were to rule on Harris v. Quinn, a case involving non-member union fees, and the now infamous Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.


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