Reform Jewish Leader Commends House of Representatives Vote in Favor of DC Voting Rights, Urges Speedy Action by Senate
Saperstein: We applaud the House of Representatives for passing this momentous piece of legislation, but reserve our celebration for the day that the President signs the bill into law.
Contact: Rachel Slomovitz or Matt Weinberg, 202-841-2360
Washington, April 19, 2007 – In response to the House of Representatives historical passage of the DC Voting Rights Act, granting voting representation to the District of Columbia for the first time in history, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today’s passage of the DC Voting Rights Act by the House of Representatives is a crucial first step in correcting one of America’s greatest historical injustices. The nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, DC fight in the armed forces, pay federal income taxes, and serve on juries, but are granted no voting representation in Congress. As American soldiers are put in harm’s way around the world for the stated mission of spreading democracy, we can no longer ignore the hypocrisy of denying a full voice in government to the residents of our nation’s capital. We applaud the House of Representatives for passing this momentous piece of legislation, but reserve our celebration for the day that the President signs the bill into law. It is now the Senate’s turn to pass this bill in a timely manner, in order to do its part in granting the full privileges of citizenship to the residents of the District of Columbia.
A belief in democracy is at the core of Jewish values. Rabbi Yitzhak taught that, “A ruler is not to be appointed until the community is first consulted" (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). Throughout history, Jews too often have represented disenfranchised members of their respective societies. From both scripture and historical lessons, the Jewish community has learned the importance of democratic representation, and affirms that government officials must be accountable to the citizens they represent. Our moral teachings command us to fight for the day where no American is a second class citizen.
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.