JSPAN Honors Allyson Schwartz for Social Justice

Now in its 13th year, this was JSPAN’s 11th annual award ceremony, of which more than 100 people gathered at the Independence Visitor Center to honor Allyson Schwartz.

Overlooking Independence Hall on May 12, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) honored former Rep. Allyson Schwartz with a Social Justice Award for her service in the community.
Now in its 13th year, this was JSPAN’s 11th annual award ceremony, of which more than 100 people gathered at the Independence Visitor Center to honor Schwartz.
JSPAN provides a progressive voice on domestic policy issues, and Executive Director Rabbi George Stern said Schwartz was an ideal choice as an award recipient. 
“Every year, we look for someone in the community that we can highlight for the work that they’ve done around social justice issues,” he said.
Schwartz’s policy work has done a lot for women and children, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program she stewarded through the Pennsylvania Senate — of which she was the third woman elected to office — as well as the Affordable Care Act she backed during her 10 years spent in Congress. (She left office in 2015.)
“JSPAN has policy centers that deal with criminal justice, economic justice, voting rights, health issues, crime and gun violence, and certainly women,” Stern continued. “The issues around women and children fall under so many different areas.
“Her interests sort of dovetailed with so many of ours, and she has been supportive of us in the past, so we thought this was a great opportunity to thank her and give people in the community a chance to thank her.
“We strive to be a Jewish voice for justice in the community — in the broader community, not just among Jews. All of the work we do is domestic.”
A close friend and colleague of Schwartz’s, JoAnne Fischer, executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition, spoke on her behalf during the ceremony as well.
“Allyson has always been a straight shooter. She works hard and never loses sight of the people she is working for,” she said. “I know as a result of her courage, her example, her support and her mentorship, more women will take the risk to run for office and ‘play the women’s card.’”
Schwartz, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said, “We understand very keenly, and we should, that our responsibility — our obligation, in a way — to do all we can to support ourselves, our families, our Jewish community, but to actually work to make sure that the world and society we live in, the government we have, is one that provides security and opportunity and is one that is just and fair.
“It’s very meaningful to be recognized by the Jewish community and to get a social justice award from an organization that is so committed to many of the issues that I care about as well and worked on for so long as an elected official and in the private sector.”
Schwartz is continuing her commitment to work on health care for all citizens. 
“I continue the work that I’ve done — particularly in Congress where I was well known for the work I did on health care, particularly around Medicare — I’m able to continue to do all I can to strengthen and sustain Medicare for seniors today and for tomorrow,” she said. “And I think that is part of a mission that we have in the Jewish community to make sure health care is available.”
Schwartz began tearing up when she accepted her award. 
“I am enormously proud of the work that I’ve done. I’m enormously proud of my service in Congress. I love my job,” she said in her speech. “You actually can contribute to a larger purpose. I was willing to do that, I was willing to step up, I was willing to take those risks, and many of you did along with me.” 
Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737


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