Reform Jewish Leader Urges Committee to Support Congressional Representation for Washington, D.C. Residents
Saperstein: As our nation seeks to extend democracy around the world, we can no longer ignore the need to extend that democracy to Americans living in Washington, D.C.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 17, 2006 – In a letter today, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, urged members of the Committee on Government Reform to pass legislation that would give Congressional representation to residents of Washington, D.C. The committee is set to mark-up the bill tomorrow. The full text of the letter is as follows:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1800 Rabbis, we write to urge you to support H.R. 5388, the DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act, which would provide Congressional representation to Americans living in Washington, D.C.
In the Book of Numbers, we learn of God’s instructions to Moses to gather 70 elders of Israel to serve as representatives of the people (Numbers 11:16–25). So too, Rabbi Yitzhak taught, "A ruler is not to be appointed until the community is first consulted" (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). More, throughout history Jews too often represented disenfranchised members of their respective societies. Both through biblical and historical lessons, the Jewish community knows well the importance of democratic representation, and upholds that government officials must be accountable to the citizens they represent.
As such, we believe it is necessary that residents of Washington, D.C. have Congressional representation. Currently, those who reside in our nation’s capital fight to defend the principles of freedom and democracy abroad, pay federal income taxes, and serve on juries, but have no voting member to represent their views in Congress. As our nation seeks to extend democracy around the world, we can no longer ignore the need to extend that democracy to Americans living in Washington, D.C.
The DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act, introduced by Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has strong bipartisan support and is supported by Mayor Anthony Williams as well as the Washington, D.C. City Council. By supporting H.R. 5388 and voting it out of committee, you can help support the principles of democracy for residents of our nation’s capital.
Rabbi David Saperstein