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Reform Jewish Leader Welcomes the Introduction of Global Aids Legislation in the House

Feldman: With more than 42 million people currently infected with HIV, and nearly 25 million who have already died of AIDS, we cannot afford anything less than urgency in our response to this world-wide crisis.


Contact: Alexis Rice or Jacob Fain 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2003 - Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (CSA), issued the following statement welcoming the introduction of a bill to combat the global AIDS crisis being introduced today by Representatives Hyde & Lantos.

Today, in a move that we have been eagerly anticipating for weeks, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) introduced the "United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003," a visionary bill that makes a commitment to true U.S. leadership of the global battle against these diseases. With more than 42 million people currently infected with HIV, and nearly 25 million who have already died of AIDS, we cannot afford anything less than urgency in our response to this world-wide crisis. It has been six weeks since the President outlined an unprecedented response to the AIDS pandemic, and while details of his plan have been slow to emerge, we are delighted by the plan presented by Rep. Hyde.

This bill recommends spending $3 billion a year to fight global AIDS, TB and Malaria for the next five years, with up to one third of that for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Not only would this record financial contribution demonstrate our country's commitment to ending these terrible diseases, but it also would serve as a challenge to other nations to increase their efforts to address this international crisis.

We are particularly heartened by Rep Hyde's inclusion of funding for the Global Fund to Combat AIDS, TB, and Malaria, which is the single most effective tool at our disposal for turning the tide against these diseases. The Fund, which is currently supporting 165 programs in 85 countries, directs money to programs quickly and efficiently. By making a commitment to work through this multilateral mechanism, we strengthen our ties to our allies and build bridges in our relationships with potential partners.

As Reform Jews, in the face of this human catastrophe, we reaffirm the commandments of bikur cholim (visiting the sick), pikuach nefesh (saving of lives), gemilut chasadim (deeds of loving-kindness), and tzedakah (economic justice) - these have been our values and commitments since Sinai and continue to guide us today. Where pain and suffering exist, we must provide comfort and solace. Where neglect and inequity prevail, we must bring compassion and justice.

Rep. Hyde's bill is a huge step in the right direction. We now call upon the House to pass this bill and on the Senate to match the House's commitment to fight the global AIDS crisis.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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