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Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes President Bush's Support for Restoring Food Stamps to Legal Immigrants

Pelavin: "It was not so long ago that we were all strangers in America and as such, we must not harden our hearts against those who continue to come to the United States seeking freedom and opportunity."

Contact: Alexis Rice or Rachel Burrows 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, January 14, 2002 - In a letter to President George W. Bush, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commended the President for his commitment to restore food stamps for the hundreds of the thousands of legal immigrants whose benefits were cut-off by the 1996 welfare reform laws.

The complete letter follows:

    Dear Mr. President:

    On behalf of the 900 synagogues of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, encompassing over 1.5 million people across North America, I write to commend you for your efforts to restore food stamps for the hundreds of the thousands of legal immigrants whose benefits were cut-off by the 1996 welfare reform laws. The majority of immigrants who come to the United States are productive members of our workforce, but immigrants are often among the first to suffer in a weakened economy.

    As Jews, we are commanded that when we harvest our land we must leave the corners of our fields for the poor and the stranger. Our biblical tradition demands that we share our resources because they belong not to us, but to God. Historically, Jews know what it is to be strangers in a strange land. The Torah commands us: "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). Our obligation is clear: we must welcome and respect the stranger and strive for equal justice for all God's children. Our policy makers must remember that we are a nation of immigrants. It was not so long ago that we were strangers in America… and as such, we must not harden our hearts against those who continue to come to the United States seeking freedom and opportunity.

    On behalf of the Reform Movement, I thank you for your leadership on this issue and look forward to working with you on this and other issues of mutual concern.

    Respectfully,
    /s/
    Mark J. Pelavin
    Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

    ###

    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis .




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