In advance of World AIDS Day, December 1, 2005, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement noting, "We are forced to admit to ourselves that, notwithstanding real advances, we continue to lose the fight against HIV/AIDS."
Saperstein : We are forced to admit to ourselves that, notwithstanding real advances, we continue to lose the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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Washington, November 30, 2005 - In advance of World AIDS Day, December 1, 2005, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
As we observe World AIDS Day this year, we are forced to admit to ourselves that, notwithstanding real advances, we continue to lose the fight against HIV/AIDS. Four years ago, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, we applauded President Bush for his historic commitment to fighting this global pandemic. Since that time, more resources have been committed to fighting the wildfire of HIV/AIDS than ever before. Yet these new resources still fall short of what is desperately needed by men, women and children worldwide, and particularly in Africa and Asia, where a diagnosis is most often a death sentence.
When fighting a wildfire, sending insufficient resources to fight the blaze only slows the spread, but can never contain it. The same is true of the AIDS pandemic. To extinguish the HIV/AIDS pandemic, funds are required totaling more than double what the U.S. and the rest of the world has committed for the coming year. Moreover, as long as our Administration insists on funding ineffective abstinence-only prevention education and expanding the global gag rule to prevent established service providers in the developing world from receiving AIDS funds because they provide reproductive health services, we are fighting AIDS with one hand tied behind our back.
Two weeks ago, more than 4,000 Reform Jewish leaders gathered at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial and passed a resolution on Ending Global Poverty. As a first step, we call on President Bush to end the misguided policies that hamper our existing global AIDS programs and to include $8 billion in his upcoming budget request for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria. This amount represents the United States’ fair share of the global need to contain these deadly diseases, based on our share of global wealth.
The Jewish values of bikur cholim, pikuach nefesh, and gemulit chasidim (caring for the sick, saving lives, and deeds of loving kindness) have been embodied by the doctors, scientists, patients, and advocates over the past 20 years who have contributed to improving the quality and length of life for those living with HIV/AIDS. We must re-commit ourselves to the battle and live up to Leviticus’ command not to stand idly by the blood of our neighbors.
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.