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June 5, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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June 5, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 5, 2009 PAGE 5A By William C. Daroff and Hadar Susskind WASHINGTON (JTA) The crisis of health care in America is one that should serve as a call to action for the Jewish community. For more than 47 million Americans, health care is something they simply cannot afford, and this obstacle--just one part of the health-care challenges facing the United States--- should serve as a clarion call to guide our leaders in making the right decisions about fixing the health-care system in this country. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and UJC/Jew- ish Federations of North America have long been proponents of reform that will serve to strengthen our nation's health-care system. Our advocacy ef- forts have been propelled by both a moral mandate from our Jewish tradition and our experience provid- ing health-care services to millions of vulnerable people in communities across the United States. When you have served those who are truly in need, you realize how important universal access to health care is and how it must be a part of any plan. We know there are scores of compelling issues that compete for our legislators' attention, but as the baby boomer generation grows older and the demand on our nation's health-care system surges as a result, now is the time for the Jewish com- munity to act upon shared principles in health care. We believe everything should be discussed, includ- ing more controversial ideas such as the federal govern- ment-run insurance option, because when you need to reshape something so important and dynamic, all options must be put in play. It is a historic moment, and we believe the community should play a leading role in these endeavors. This oppor- tunity may not be available to us for.years--make that decades--to come. Our partnership on this issue underscores the fact that health reform repre- sents an opportunity to make common-sense improve- ments that will enhance the ability of social service providers to assist vulnerable populations and simultane- ously ensure that the Jew- ish obligation to "pursue justice" is manifested in public policy outcomes that promote health care for all. "For all" means eliminating disparities in health-care coverage based on race, ethnicity, class or gender. Real reform can happen by year's end. President Obama's recently released budget included approxi- mately $600 billion that over the course of a decade would help pay for the health-care overhaul. The total cost of the expansion is projected at more than $1 trillion. The president has welcomed input and asked that every idea be considered. In that spirit, we put forth o~: c~le principles: People should have universal access to health services, so that every indi- vidual and family can have access to a doctor regardless of income or other barriers. The system should provide care for the most vulnerable, and we should expand and strengthen Medicaid, which is vital in serving the most vulnerable among us. There is a need for incorporating long-term services and supports, par- ticularly given that Jewish Americans are the fastest aging minority in North America, and we will work toward a more comprehen- sive continuum of care that will strive for more choice and affordability. The system should have built-in equity and aim to end unfair insurance practices that have kept millions of Americans from obtaining the medical care they have desperately needed. In sum, we assert that not only does there need to be comprehensive care, but also preventative care within the new American health system. It is time that the United States switches from an illness-based model to one that is centered on wellness from generation to generation. Health-care reform will have far-reaching effects both on Jewish social-service providers and on our com- munity relations efforts. Many Jewish Americans are amon~ the ranks of the uninsured, and our network of Jewish social-service providers relies on a strong health-care safety net to serve vulnerable Jewish populations. We need to work produc- tively for a stronger health- care system in America. Right now we are pushing Congress to stop harmful cuts to Medicare and assist states in fiscal crisis, so they will not consider weakening Medicaid to cover their own state budgetary shortfalls. This is the time to lead and our communities need to be involved. We stand at the ready to make these objec- tives a reality for all Ameri- cans in need of a strong health-care continuum. William C. Daroff is vice president for public policy and director of UJCIJewish Federations of North Ameri- ca's Washington office. Hadar Susskind is vice president and Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. By Rabbi H. Rafael Goldstein Last month, I was inter- viewed on Equality Arizona Radio about the relationship of the Jewish community with GLBTQ people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgen- dered, queer or questioning. In the "Old Days" of a decade or more ago, I would have been on edge about the interview, unable to rationalize the discrimina- tory practices of some of the members of the Jewish community. After all, when I entered rabbinical school in the late 1970s, it was not possible even to dream of being an openly gay person and also a rabbi. I withdrew from rab- binical school at the Jew- ish Theological Seminary because I couldn't reconcile who I was and found hiding and lying to be contrary to my core beliefs about right and wrong. At that time, there was no such thing as an openly gay rabbi, or for that matter, a female rabbi. I was the first openly gay person to be ordained by the Academy for JewishReligion in New York in 1994. but that is ancient history. In recent years, the Jewish community has radically changed with regard to Jewish people who are gay or lesbian. The questions on the radio interview were tame. I realized there was almost nothing but progress to talk about. In the last two.years, Conservative Judaism has begun to ordain people who are gay or lesbian, and many of the most conservative of Conservative rabbis have shifted their perspective toward the involvement. acceptance and integration of gay and lesbian people in the Jewish community. - Reform, Conservative, Re- constructionist and Renewal Judaism have all become GLBTQ friendly. I did not talk about Ortho- dox Judaism in the interview. With all due respect, I don't turn to Orthodoxy for reli- gious guidance in my life. and I don't see Orthodox Judaism as more valid or more authentic than other streams of Judaism. Yet I do note that even some Or- thodox rabbis have changed their perspectives on GLBTQ issues. In the interview, l found myself talking about the GLBTQ Jews who don't at- tend synagogue services or affiliate with congregations. The vast majority of Jews in Phoenix aren't affiliated; GLBTQ Jews are no differ- ent from other Jews in that respect. But there is a major dif- ference. I wonder how many GLBTQ Jews know they would be welcomed at our congregations? How would GLBTQ Jews who have not tuned in to the changes know that they will not be rejected for being who they are? Representatives of some congregations heard the radio interview. Three told me they were disappointed that I had not mentioned them specifically for their openness, acceptance and integration of GLBTQ Jews. (I mentioned only Aviv. the GLBTQ Jewish organization that offers sofne services for this community.) The question for me, and for you. is how do we let GLBTQ Jews know that everything has changed? The revolution has happened far too quietly. How do we go from the assumption of rejection to the reality of integration in our congrega- tions? How do we reach out to welcome people home to our congregations? It's not enough to say, "We won't reject you." I'd like to see every congrega- tion add "GLBTQ friendly" to its Web site and printed materials. Congregations that are serious about letting people know that they are now "safe" should advertise in the GLBTQ media. It's incumbent on every con- gregation to actually reach out to those who have been rejected for so long. Of course, it's not enough to say, "GLBTQ friendly." As a community we have to show it, in all that we do. We can't be heterosexist in our approach to Jewish family life anymore. The implications are enormous. Do membership forms in our congregation have spaces for "husband" and "wife" or "mother "and "father" when parents may not be different genders? Are GLBTQ people treated as equals, or are we still somehow "other"? Are there events for "couples" that really are not all that welcoming to different kinds of couples? Are there singles' events for straight singles? Is there programming for single Jewish GLBTQ people? I never imagined, 30 years ago, that I would be writing these words as a rabbi who is openly gay. This is a historic change for our people, one that has been almost missed by the many who have been disenfranchised for so long. Rabbi H. Rafael Goldstein is spiritual leader of Temple Havurat Emet in Sun Lakes, Ariz. He has a private prac- tice as an integrative life coach, working with people living with serious illness, experiencing loss, recover- ing from drug and alcohol abuse, dealing with GLBTQ issues and struggling to find meaning in life,~ He is the founder of Dynamics of Hope Consulting. He can be reached at 602-459-1819 or By Paul Goidenberg NEW YORK (JTA)--The May 20 announcement of a thwarted terrorist at- tack against synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx highlighted two important issues that have emerged clearly in the new age of terror in the years since 9/11: That extraordinary law enforcement cooperation and investigative operations can disrupt potentially dev- astating homegrown terror- ist attacks in the homeland, and that the terrorist threat in America remains real and current, particularly for American Jews. The alleged terror plot to attack synagogues using Improvised Explosive De- vices, or IEDs, raises many concerns, most notably the feasibility of such an attack. The suspects reportedly con- ducted surveillance against the Jewish institutions and identified specific targets for attack. The criminal complaint alleges that the suspects "photographed several synagogues and Jewish community centers in the Bronx and elsewhere for consideration as possible targets in a planned terrorist bombing campaign." Had the suspects been able to acquire actuhl explosives and escaped detection of law enforcement, the morning news story could have been one of catastrophe and ex- treme devastation for the Jewish community. While many Jewish or- ganizations have taken remarkable steps to secure their institutions install- ing cameras, access control systems and other tech- nological security equip- ment--it is only through the integration of the human di- mension of security, specifi- cally training and exercises, that organizations can truly test their emergency plans and ensure their staff mem- bers are properly trained to respond to crisis or disaster. Inthe midst of a disaster, it is not a good time to test your plans. Security is everyone's responsibility. By engag- ing staff and employees, and equipping them with the appropriate knowledge, skills and the ability, orga- nizations can create a force- multiplier and staff members can contribute to their own safety and security and that of their organization, visi- tors and guests. Realistically, we must anticipate that the next plot may already be in the works and we may not be so lucky as to have an informant infiltrate and ultimately disrupt a very real homegrown terrorist at'tack. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York Police Department, along with several other state and local law enforce- ment agencies, did their part in disrupting a serious homegrown terrorist plot and are to be commended for their actions. In turn, we must do our part to get to know and assist our local law enforcement partners, train our staff and do all we can as individuals and as a community to contribute to the safety and security of our institutions and the communities that we serve. If there is one message I can convey, it is the fact that the North American Jewish community cannot afford to let down its guard at any time in the present and near fu- ture. The world has changed; unlike previous periods of history, fortress America is a bygone era. However, we are a strong, resilient community and there are many steps and measures we can and must implement to safeguard our most precious assets, our people. We must make every at- tempt to approach this bal- ance between security and openness in a spirit of calm and professionalism, not alarm or panic. The Ameri- can Jewish community, in particular, is mindful of the need to balance vigilance and a determination to maintain the open, supportive atmo- sphere that represents the very purpose of our places of worship. Paul Goldenberg is the national director of Secure Community Network, an ini- tiative of the Jewish Federa- tions of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. NORTH KOREA 15 IN CAHOOTS THE 5YI IA AND THE RANIAN5//? OBAMA I CAN