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Reform Jewish Leader Addresses Senate Press Conference on SCHIP

Namath:I ask you to join me in making a new year’s resolution.  Let us resolve to do better for 10 million of our children.  Let us provide them with the health care they deserve by covering them through SCHIP.

WashingtonDCSeptember 26, 2007-At a press conference today with Senators and religious leaders in support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Rabbi Michael Namath, Program Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, delivered the following statement:

This morning I stand before you to call on members of Congress and President Bush to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  I stand here as someone committed to social justice.  I stand here as a rabbi and person of faith.  But above all, I stand here as a father of two young children.

When I see joy in the eyes of my children, I rejoice.  When one of my children is sick, I too, feel overcome by illness.  When my daughter or son has a cough, or a scrape, there is nothing I want more than to take away their pain and discomfort.   Of course, I am not unique in this regard.  The natural inclination of parents is to protect our young; to protect those who are unable to care for themselves. 

Yet for millions of parents across our country, that protective instinct is thwarted by lack of health insurance.  They have nowhere to go for a well visit and nowhere to turn when their child has a cold, or a stomach ache, or a fever, let alone a more serious illness. There is no doctor who will look after them year in and year out, helping them grow into healthy adults. 

The great Jewish philosopher and physician Maimonides taught that the most important service a community could offer its residents was health care.  How right he was.  For those children who have been enrolled in SCHIP, the benefits are clear.  They are more likely to get well-child care to keep them healthy, they have fewer hospital visits, and they have better dental care. 

Today, we can help parents provide health care for the children that are so precious to them.  By enacting this bill, we can make sure that 6 million children already enrolled in SCHIP continue to have health insurance so they can get well and stay well.  By enacting this bill, we can make sure that parents of 4 million additional children will also sleep better knowing their kids have the insurance they need.  265 members of the House – Democrats and Republicans alike – made that commitment to children and their parents last night and voted for a vital SCHIP bill.  Now it’s time for the Senate and President to join them.

In the past 2 weeks, Jews around the world have observed the Days of Awe, the holiest days of the year. We began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and ended with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.  It is an opportunity to reflect on our shortcomings and to seek to do better.  It is a time to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged.  So I ask you to join me in making a new year’s resolution.  Let us resolve to do better for 10 million of our children. Let us provide them with the health care they deserve by covering them through SCHIP.  For who among us would want less, seek less, or do less for our own child?  A year from now, when the Day of Atonement arrives again, let us not look back on this moment and remember that we had a chance to act, but did not.

Jewish tradition teaches, "By the breath of children, God sustains the world."  Let us work together to enact this bill and help sustain the children. 

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TheReligious Action Center of Reform Judaismis the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregationsacross North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and theCentral Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)whose membership includes more than1800 Reform rabbis.

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