Press Release

12/20/2011 JACPAC Leaders Attend White House Hanukkah Party

December 20, 2011

The Jewish community received a warm welcome from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama at the White House Hanukkah party Thursday, December 8th. Among those present were Vice President Joe Biden, Israeli Ambassador and Mrs. Michael Oren, Religious Action Center Director Rabbi David Saperstein, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, high-ranking members of the Administration and Jewish members of Congress. Marcia and Bruce Balonick and Dana and Lee Gordon, of Highland Park, were invited guests. Marcia is executive director of JACPAC and Dana is JACPAC’s director of membership and outreach.  Bruce Balonick is a lawyer and Lee Gordon, a financial services executive.

Observations from the President on the meaning of Hanukkah and the West Point Jewish Cadet Choir singing Rock of Ages (Maoz Tsur) marked the festivities.  Even the most jaded political activist, accustomed to attending rounds of receptions, seemed to enjoy the comfortable atmosphere and feel the unique and historic significance of the occasion.

“I was honored to be at the white house for Hanukkah. As Jews we realize the importance of the US-Israel relationship and the responsibility to take care of the issues here such as – environment, education, poverty, and women's rights,” said Dana Gordon, Director of Membership and Outreach for JACPAC.

Dana and Lee Gordon with Vice President Joe Biden
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Marcia Balonick, Executive Director or Dana Gordon, Membership and Outreach
Joint Action Committee (JAC), 847-433-5999

5/27/2010 Gail Yamner, of Clifton, Attends National Meeting of Jewish Leaders

May 27, 2010

Washington, DC -- On May 27 Gail Yamner, of Clifton, President of Joint Action Committee, attended a meeting of leaders of major Jewish organizations and Senate Democrats to discuss concerns of the Jewish Community. The meeting was convened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Twenty-two of 59 Democratic senators attended.

3/22/2010: Rani Garfinkle, of Boca Raton, Hosts JACPAC Event

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March 22, 2010

A brunch for about fifty members and prospective members of JACPAC was hosted by Rani Garfinkle,  a leader in local and national Jewish philanthropic circles, at her Boca Raton home March 22nd.

"It is a pleasure to host women of action who have found their voices and are engaged in the political arena,” said Garfinkle.

Speakers were U.S. Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and, by speakerphone, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). Health Care Reform was front and center as the topic of interest.  Both were brimming with excitement as they described some of the drama of the previous day when the health care reform bill passed in the House.  Wasserman Schultz, a JACPAC member and a breast cancer survivor, has made health care reform her highest legislative priority. Sanchez, the ranking woman on the House Armed Services Committee, has been a champion for women in the military and has focused on the issue of sexual violence and abuse.

Special guests were JACPAC President, Gail Yamner, of New Jersey, and Linda Rae Sher, JACPAC Founder, of Chicago. Lori Berman, who is running for the Florida State Senate, was introduced to the group.

Founded in 1981, Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is known as the pro-Israel PAC with a domestic conscience.  JACPAC supports the election campaigns of candidates for the US House and Senate who are pro-Israel, pro-choice and pro-separation of religion and state.  JACPAC maintains a dialogue with those it helps elect.

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9/2010 - JACPAC President Attends New Year Reception at Biden Home

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September, 2010

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted about 100 Jewish leaders and friends for a Rosh Hashanah reception at the Vice Presidential residence in Washington, DC Tuesday evening.  Among those present were Israeli Ambassador and Mrs. Michael Oren, Rabbi David Saperstein, the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and leaders of many other Jewish organizations JACPAC was represented by President Gail Yamner and Morris Yamner and former President Betsy Sheerr.

Vice President Biden welcomed everyone and made brief remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that began last Thursday. He said this is the moment for real peace, not a hollow one.  He spoke of his belief that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas were ready and could lead their people into an agreement that would give Israel the secure peace that it must have. He invited everyone to come again next year for what he hoped would be a celebration of peace.

According to Yamner,  “While there was a wide diversity of views represented, there was a sense that maybe this is the time. That is the right window of time for Israel and the Palestinians to move forward and find a solution that gives Israel a safe homeland.”

Yamner also was happy to report that when the Vice President learned that she was the new JACPAC president, he warmly embraced her and said that he loved JACPAC and that JAC was there for him whenever he ran. He spoke glowingly of the work that JACPAC does. Past President Betsy Sheerr noted: "Joe Biden is and always has been a great friend of the Jewish community. It was a testament to this relationship that so many from all over the country came to the Biden home on erev-erev Rosh Hashanah, even those of us worrying about finishing up our matzo balls and brisket!"

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is known as the pro-Israel PAC with a domestic conscience. A national bipartisan membership network founded in 1981, JACPAC is committed to the United States-Israel relationship and a progressive domestic agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JACPAC contributes to candidates for the US House and Senate who share these values; JACPAC maintains a dialogue with those it helps elect.

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8/26/2010: JAC Statement on 90th Anniversary of Women's Right to Vote

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August 26, 2010

Even though Abigail Adams reminded her husband to remember the ladies in the Declaration of Independence, it took 144 years, one month and 22 days for women to gain the right to vote. To secure that right, many were beaten, jailed, institutionalized as insane, divorced, marginalized, shunned – and even killed.

JAC applauds the women who bequeathed us this right with their bravery and perseverance in the face of such deadly opposition.

3/22/2010: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Headlines JAC Meeting in Washington

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3/22/2010 -- Michael Oren, the dashing American-born and ivy-league educated historian who became Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2009, addressed the  JAC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. He was received with enthusiasm by an audience of 50 Jewish leaders from all parts of the country. He described the newest wave of threats to Israel:  Iran with its nuclear ambitions and a worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel -- culminating in the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza known as the “Goldstone report.”  He charged Conference attendees with spreading a positive, and often neglected, message to the members of Congress with whom they would be meeting that afternoon. The message was that even in a worldwide recession, Israel’s economy was growing, its universities were making significant contributions in science and medicine, its high-tech sector was booming, and it was the first on the ground with humanitarian help in Haiti, as it had been in other natural disasters.  He also touted the strength of the US-Israel relationship.

Other items on the JAC agenda were reproductive choice, on which the fate of health care reform could turn, the Supreme Court’s decision expanding corporate influence in election campaigns and a follow-up on last year’s commitment to address international violence against women.  Donna Crane, Deputy Director of Government Relations at NARAL Pro-choice America, discussed amendments to health care reform bills that would make abortion, even though legal, inaccessible.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) spoke about the damage done by the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling that defines corporations the same as individuals where free speech is concerned.  He noted that during confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary committee, John Roberts, now the Chief Justice, promised “judicial restraint,” but once on the Court became a judicial activist.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) expressed her commitment to a health care bill that she described as having “much to offer women.” Freshman Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) talked about the failure of the Senate to “do the people’s business” and the immediate need for government reform.

JACPAC President Gail Yamner expressed a sentiment shared by many of the attendees. “The JAC Conference is different from other advocacy group Washington events. We meet in small groups with members of Congress from all over the country, not just our own representative or senators, and before we enter the offices we are thoroughly briefed on the latest developments on our issues. In this way, we ensure that our message is both clear and widely disseminated. These days, when there is so much misinformation about everything from Israel to health care reform, we are an articulate and informed voice from the Jewish community. Members of Congress appreciate the authenticity of meetings with JAC and the intelligence our members bring to discussions of complex issues.”

Joint Action Committee (JAC) is committed to the United States-Israel relationship, separation of religion and state, reproductive freedom and social policies consistent with the core concerns of the American Jewish community. To promote this agenda, Joint Action Committee enlists the participation of its members in advocacy with elected officials.

1/8/2011 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, friend to JAC, shot at Tucson event

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Jan 8, 2011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), was shot while at an event known as “Congress-on-your-Corner” in a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, AZ. Eighteen other people, including six members of her staff, were also shot. There were six fatalities, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old child. Giffords survived surgery at University Medical Center in Tucson. Although she is in critical condition, her surgeon stated he is as “optimistic about her recovery as it is possible to be” given the extent of her injuries.

The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords has caused shock and dismay in many quarters. One of 27 Jewish members of Congress, she is a special friend to JAC. Marcia Balonick, executive director, said the JAC contingent that attended the Congressional swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday attended a reception in her honor. “I met and spoke with her mother and we talked about how special she is. Her mother told me how lucky she was to have such a wonderful daughter and that life was 'always an adventure with Gabby.' The attempted murder of any member of Congress would be tragic to me, but this is personal.”

In 2009 Giffords spoke for JAC at the Detroit chapter's membership event. She was extremely well received. Lisa Lis, chair of that event, also considers the shooting a personal matter. “This is truly heartbreaking. She is a bright star in the Congress, passionate about bringing positive changes to the country. When she spoke at our meeting, we were so impressed by her dedication to public service. She was genuinely approachable and touched everyone's heart.”

Gabrielle Giffords is a positive force on issues of concern to JAC. She is a staunch advocate for Israel, reproductive rights and separation of religion and state. Her door is always open to JAC and the PAC's relationship with her is very close.

She stood on principle when it came to health care reform even though it could have cost her her re-election. As a member of the Armed Services committee, she is well respected and well liked even by her political opponents. Gail Yamner, JAC President, said “You cannot help but like her. She is a warm, caring woman who wants only to serve her country. She is an incredible woman who believes in an America that is for everyone.”

We do not fully know the shooter's motivation, but Arizona’s laws that permit easy access to guns make it too easy to commit a heinous crime such as this one. His violent act is likely to have a chilling effect on the public's access to elected officials. American democracy is ill-served by a violent gun culture and by security barriers erected between the people and their government. Neither is consistent with Gabby's modus operandi.

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a personal affront, an affront to the Jewish community, to her Arizona constituents and to the country.