Saperstein: The Reform Movement has long held that the budget is a moral document, a statement of our nation’s priorities; now is the time for Congress to show that helping those in need—during this time of increasing need—is indeed a priority.
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Washington, DC, June 4, 2008 – In advance of the vote on the Fiscal Year 2009 budget resolution in the House of Representatives, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter yesterday in support of the budget resolution to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The text of the letter follows:
Dear Madame Speaker,
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis, I write in support of the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution.
I commend your work on producing a budget resolution that speaks to our values as Americans. The resolution rejects harmful cuts in vital services for families and communities and makes crucial investments in nutrition, housing, health care, and education services that will allow the country to thrive.
The FY ’09 budget resolution increases funding for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program at a time when the price of food is skyrocketing. It fully funds the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which will provide relief to the millions of families and elderly facing rising home energy prices. The budget resolution ensures that more children will be served by Head Start and more teens will have access to an affordable college education. It ensures that those covered by the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and those receiving Medicaid services will continue to have access to health care. At the same time, there is certainly room for improvement and we would support greater domestic discretionary spending to help those in need.
As you know, the Reform Movement has long held that the budget is a moral document, a statement of our nation’s priorities; now is the time for Congress to show that helping those in need—during this time of increasing need—is indeed a priority. Jewish tradition teaches that helping fellow human beings in need is not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility. The Torah does not merely command us to give to the poor, but to advocate on their behalf. We are told in Proverbs 31:9, to “speak up, judge righteously, [and] champion the poor and the needy.”
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism