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Minnesota Rabbis Join with Reform Jewish Movement in Urging Senator Coleman to Oppose Budget Cuts
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism coordinated a letter, signed by prominent Minnesota rabbis and sent today to Senator Norm Coleman, urging him to vote against the more than $39.1 billion in budget cuts coming to the floor of the Senate this week.

Rabbis: As the Senate debates the budget reconciliation, with its $39.1 billion in proposed budget cuts and $70 billion in tax cuts, we in the Jewish community reflect on the tragedies of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and now Wilma, and hear the prophetic exhortation not to wrong the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

Contact: Alexis Rice or David Schlitt 202.387.2800

Washington, November 1, 2005 - The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism coordinated a letter, signed by prominent Minnesota rabbis and sent today to Senator Norm Coleman, urging him to vote against the more than $39.1 billion in budget cuts coming to the floor of the Senate this week. Signatories include Minnesotan community leaders, campus rabbis and congregational rabbis from the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative branches of Judaism. The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Senator Coleman,

We, the undersigned diverse collection of Rabbis and Jewish communal leaders, represent a broad range of beliefs, both religious and political. However, we find common ground around certain essential values.

As the Senate debates the budget reconciliation, with its $39.1 billion in proposed budget cuts and $70 billion in tax cuts, we in the Jewish community reflect on the tragedies of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and now Wilma, and hear the prophetic exhortation not to wrong the stranger, the orphan and the widow. (Jeremiah 22:3) As we note that the programs in the crosshairs are vitally important to some of society’s most vulnerable, including Medicaid, Food Stamps and Student Loans, we draw on the words of Proverbs, which asks us to "Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of the destitute.” (Proverbs 31:8) And as the hurricane victims and the nation’s disadvantaged are being asked to foot the bill for the Gulf Coast’s reconstruction while the nation’s affluent are being handed another tax cut, we hear the powerful warning, “Do not steal from the weak because he is weak and do not oppress the poor in public.” (Proverbs 22:22-23)

As representatives of the Minnesota Jewish community, we ask that you oppose both the spending proposals and tax cut proposal in the budget reconciliation package. Neither these harsh reductions in spending nor these budget-busting tax cuts should be allowed to go forward, especially at this time.

After investing billions in the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, many in Congress now say that the federal government must now tighten its belt. We certainly understand the need for fiscal responsibility. However, any claims to fiscal prudence on the part of budget reconciliation’s proponents are undermined by the $70 billion in tax cuts proposed alongside the spending reductions. Instead of saving money, budget reconciliation will add another $20 to $31 billion to our deficit. And the spending cuts, targeted as they are at programs benefiting low-income Americans rather than at trimming pork or tax cuts, represent a cynicism and lack of compassion not befitting our nation’s leaders.

These are difficult times in America. We all saw the dire poverty and profound sense (and reality) of abandonment faced by many Americans during Hurricane Katrina. This poverty existed long before the storm and has not disappeared now that the cameras have gone away. The High Holidays, having only just passed, gave us as Jews an opportunity to atone and consider how we have fallen short in our commitments to the less fortunate over the past year. We can only hope that Congress will now do the same.

Sincerely,

Rabbi David L. Abramson
B'nai Emet Synagogue (Conservative)
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

Rabbi Morris Allen
Beth Jacob Congregation (Conservative)
Mendota Heights, Minnesota

Rabbi Amy R. Bernstein
Temple Israel (Reform)
Duluth, Minnesota

Rabbi Norman M. Cohen
Bet Shalom Congregation (Reform)
Minnetonka, Minnesota

Rabbi Shoshana Dworsky
Associate Jewish Chaplain
Macalester and Carleton Colleges

Rabbi David Freedman
B’nai Israel Synagogue (Reform)
Rochester, Minnesota

Rabbi Sim Glazer
Temple Israel (Reform)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rabbi Rob Kahn
Beth El Synagogue (Conservative)
Saint Louis Park, Minnesota

Rabbi Sylvan D. Kamens
Temple of Aaron (Conservative)
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Rabbi Stacy Offner
Shir Tikvah Congregation (Reform)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rabbi Daniel Rabishaw, Regional Director
Great Lakes Council - Chicago Federation Region of the Union for Reform Judaism

Vic Rosenthal, Executive Director
Jewish Community Action
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker
Mount Zion Temple (Reform)
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Rabbi Sharon Steifel
Saint Paul, Minnesota

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office 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 , whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .



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