The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

A Faith in the Future. A Belief in Action.

News from NCJW Inc.

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Washington Weekly E-Newsletter

November 17, 2017
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Table of Contents

  1. Capitol Hill Updates
  2. House Passes Massive Tax Plan; Senate Vote after Thanksgiving
  3. Grassley Changes Blue Slip Policy
  4. US Supreme Court to Hear Case that Will Impact Abortion Rights
  5. NCJW Resources & Opportunities Below
  6. Register Now: #CourtsMatter to Religious Freedom NCJW Call
  7. Health Care Marketplace opened Nov 1
  8. Save the Date: Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof: Tools for Transformationwebinar, December 13

                  III.        NCJW Sign-On Letters and Amicus Briefs

This week NCJW has no sign on letters.  

Capitol Hill Updates 

  1. House Passes Massive Tax Plan; Senate Vote after Thanksgiving

The US House of Representatives jammed their tax bill through on November 16, passing a massive tax cut plan (227-205) that would hurt middle and low income families in favor of tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations, and add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit. The Senate’s tax proposal — though different — is no better. It includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, leaving 13 million individuals uninsured but “saving” the federal government over $300 billion to make corporate tax breaks permanent. What’s worse, it would actually raise taxes on low income individuals within a few years. And, both the House and Senate versions of tax reform include anti-abortion language that could potentially have far-reaching consequences for women’s health. The Senate is expected to vote on its plan after Thanksgiving.

  • Take Action: Contact your senators TODAY via the health care security line 866-426-2631. Let them know that we need tax policy that reduces income and wealth disparity, not exacerbates it. Don’t forget to call back to speak with your other senator’s office!
  1. Grassley Changes Blue Slip Policy

On Thursday, November 16, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced that he will no longer honor blue slips for circuit (appeals) court nominees, thus upending 100 years of Senate tradition. On November 29, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider two circuit court nominees who have not received the support of both of their home state senators: Kyle Duncan of Louisiana (nominated for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals) and David Stras of Minnesota (nominated for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals). Senator Grassley did not make any exceptions to the blue slip tradition during the Obama Administration, and even used blue slips as an excuse for blocking 18 Obama nominees, including 6 to the circuit courts. Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released a statement stating, among other things, that the “lengths to which Republicans are going to jam extremely conservative and controversial nominees through the Senate is unprecedented.” NCJW strongly opposes Duncan, Stras, and the abandonment of the blue slip tradition. Image courtesy of Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier (Iowa).

  1. US Supreme Court to Hear Case that Will Impact Abortion Rights

This week, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Xavier Becerra, which challenges the constitutionality of a California law that prohibits misleading information to be displayed and disseminated in medical clinics. Under California law, state-licensed medical clinics must inform women that they can obtain certain basic information about free and low-cost family planning, prenatal, and abortion care. Unlicensed clinics are now required to disclose to all clients that their facility is not a state-licensed medical facility. The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, an anti-choice organization, claims that the California law violates its First Amendment right to free speech by compelling them to utter a government message. The federal district court in California and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have both rejected this argument, and the Supreme Court will now take it under consideration. NCJW opposes any and all barriers to women’s access to reproductive health services. This case is another reminder that courts matter to reproductive health, rights, and justice.

NCJW Resources and Opportunities

  1. Register Now: #CourtsMatter to Religious Freedom NCJW Call 

Learn from an expert how the federal court system impacts our religious freedom!

  • What: #CourtsMatter to Religious Freedom Distance Learning Call
  • When: Wednesday, November 29 at 3pmET (12pmPT ) 
  • Who: NCJWfeaturing Maggie Garrett, Legislative Director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Don’t miss this opportunity, register today!

  1. Health Care Marketplace Opened Nov 1!

The time has come! From November 1 – December 15, the health care exchange is open at HealthCare.govThis year, due to the Trump administration’s effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, open enrollment is much shorter than in the past. This means we have to stay vigilant about getting our uninsured friends, family members, and community registered as soon as possible.

Check out NCJW enrollment resources here.

If you need additional resources, please email Carly at

  1. Save the Date: Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof: Tools for Transformation webinar, Dec 13

Mark your calendars for the December webinar as part of NCJW’s monthly webinar series on leadership skills, Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof: Tools for Transformation 

Our next training will be about identifying and developing leaders with special guest JOIN for Justice Senior Organizer Jeannie Appleman. This 75-minute webinar will be on Wednesday, December 13 at 1:30pmET/10:30amPT and 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT. (Note: This month will be the second Wednesday.)

The recording of the November webinar, “Engaging Activists through Relational Meetings,” will be available in next week’s Washington Weekly. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Contact Ari Conrad at for further details and questions.

Check out the Advocacy Leaders Directory to connect with leaders across the country and share skills.

NCJW Sign-On Letters and Amicus Briefs

There are no sign-on letters or amicus briefs this week.

Visit for the sign-on letters and amicus briefs signed by NCJW this year. 

Tip: Share NCJW ideas and resources with other leaders across the country on this listserv by sending an email to!

Click here for past copies of Washington Weekly and visit our website for section resources!

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Shabbat Shalom. Congratulations to the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg for being selected as the inaugural recipient of the Genesis Lifetime Achievement Award! We can’t think of a more deserving recipient.
NCJW In The News
 A mother embraces her daughter’s gender identity
November 15, 2017: Essex, NJ – New Jersey Jewish NewsNCJW Essex County Section hosted a lunch and learn titled “Free to Be He, She, They: Children and Gender Identity.” The featured speaker, Jamie Bruesehoff, mother of an 11-year-old transgender daughter, told attendees that her daughter “came out of the womb demanding that her voice be heard.”
green_arrow.gif 2017 Difference Makers: Debbie Hoffmann
November 16, 2017: Cleveland, OH – Cleveland Jewish News

“Of course, we’ve always talked about giving back, tikkun olam…but it’s about more than that. Our values are based on the concept from the Torah that education is crucial and that everyone should be  respected. For me, that is what makes NCJW so unique and why we are so effective,” said Debbie Hoffmann after being named one of the 18 Difference Maker Award recipients in the Cleveland Jewish community.

green_arrow.gif Jewish leaders from around the world gather in downtown Los Angeles
November 12, 2017: Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Daily News

NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman was a featured speaker at the Jewish Federations of America’s 2017 General Assembly. She spoke on a panel titled “PRO-gressive and PRO-zionist? Can you be both?”

green_arrow.gif Are Some Christians More Equal than Others in Cakeshop Case?
November 16, 2017: Denver, CO – Westword

Along with 1,200 other faith leaders and organizations, NCJW, Inc. signed an amicus brief for the Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, “saying that religious beliefs don’t give justification for discrimination.”

NCJW Press Releases
 Anti-Choice, Anti-woman Exec Alex Azar Not a Legitimate Choice to Head HHS
November 14, 2017
 NCJW Supports Legislation to Strengthen Anti-Tracking Enforcement
November 9, 2017
 Horrific Texas Church Massacre Demands a Congressional Response Now
November 6, 2017
 Republican Tax Bill Helps the Rich, Undermines Social Programs
November 3, 2017
 In Rush to Pack the Federal Courts, the Senate has Missed the Point of the Process
November 3, 2017
 Trump Takes Next Step to Sabotage Health Care Reform
October 13, 2017
There’s still time to sign up for our final #CourtsMatter learning call. Get educated on how the courts shape our religious freedom. And tell your networks about this great learning opportunity with religious freedom expert Maggie Garrett. Register today.