October 31, 2014 · 7 Cheshvan

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Jewish Values and Reform Movement Policy

Both the URJ and CCAR have policy strongly supporting campaign finance reform and the Reform Movement played a leading role in achieving passage of the 2002 Act. The URJ’s Congressional Campaign Finance Reform resolution together with the CCAR’s Campaign Finance Reform and Congressional Campaign Finance Reformresolutions have allowed the Religious Action center to prioritize this issue.

These resolutions are based largely on the warnings in our ancient texts about the dangers of mixing money and politics.  Deuteronomy 16 says, "You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take gifts, for gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just." The Talmud Tractate Kethuboth notes, "What is the reason [for the prohibition against taking] a gift (shochad). Because as soon as a man receives a gift (she-hu-chad) from another he becomes so well disposed towards him that he becomes like his own person, and no man sees himself in the wrong."

Jewish tradition also stresses a need for public accountability in a system of governance. Rabbi Yitzhak taught that "A ruler is not to be appointed until the community is first consulted," (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a). Rabbi Yitzhak argued that in the Torah, Bezalel could be chosen to build the Tabernacle only with the community's approval. In a modern democracy, it is still necessary for elected officials to be accountable to all citizens.

As Jews, we are commanded to stand up for the widow, the poor, the orphan and the stranger. In the words of former CSA director Leonard Fein, Jews have always acted on the belief that both our moral obligations and our self-interest require "a politics that speaks to the needs of those who have been left out or left behind, a politics of inclusion." It is the poor and the immigrant who are ignored in a system where the currency that matters is money rather than ideas. It is the poor who suffer when policy decisions are made by those who are dependent on the small percentage of the population that supplies the largest percentage of campaign contributions.


Resolutions

CCAR

Campaign Finance Reform (2003)
Campaign Finance Reform (1997)
Congressional Campaign Finance Reform (1987)

URJ


Congressional Campaign Finance Reform (1984)

 



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