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Reform Jewish Movement Commends House Passage of Global Aids Bill; Urges Senate to Follow Suit

Pelavin: Our elected leadership has acted in the spirit of our prophetic heritage, responding to the commandment of Leviticus 19: Lo Ta'a-mod al Dam Re'echa: You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. By passing the Hyde AIDS bill, the House of Representatives has clearly and unequivocally proclaimed: "We will not stand idly by."


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

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2003 - Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, (RAC), issued the following statement commending the House passage of a Global AIDS bill and urging the Senate to follow suit. The complete letter follows:

Today the House of Representatives overwhelmingly (375-41) passed a landmark bill to fight the Global AIDS pandemic. H.R. 1298, "the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003," sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), is the most comprehensive Global AIDS legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress. It authorizes spending $3 billion a year to fight global AIDS, TB and Malaria for the next five years, with up to one third of the funds allocated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The Reform Movement commends Reps. Hyde and Lantos for their leadership on this issue. We are particularly heartened by amendments to the bill that require educational curricula to emphasize gender equality and respect for women and girls, and measures ensuring support of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children.

Our elected leadership has acted in the spirit of our prophetic heritage, responding to the commandment of Leviticus 19: Lo Ta'a-mod al Dam Re'echa: "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." By passing the Hyde AIDS bill, the House of Representatives has clearly and unequivocally proclaimed: "We will not stand idly by."

On April 29th, 2003, the President stated, "Confronting the threat of AIDS is important work, and it is urgent work. It is a moral imperative for our great nation. In the three months since I announced the emergency plan, an estimated 760,000 people have died from AIDS, 1.2 million people have been infected, more than 175,000 babies have been born with the virus. Time is not on our side." The House has responded to the President's call. It is now time for the Senate to act with speed and pass this legislation.

Jewish tradition teaches that only a single person was created in the beginning to teach that if any individual causes a single person to perish it is as though an entire world has been destroyed, and if anyone saves even a single person it is as though a whole world has been saved. In three months, 760,000 lives have been lost to AIDS and 760,000 worlds have been lost. The Senate must now join the effort to combat AIDS by passing legislation as the House has done today. We also urge the Senate to go one step further and include in its bill debt relief provisions that will allow nations affected by AIDS to more effectively combat this plague.

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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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