Reform Jewish Movement Applauds The Child Health Insurance And Lower Deficit Act Of 1997
Act Would Help "Fulfill Our Obligation To Provide For The Most Vulnerable Among Us And Ensure That Every Child Is Able Not Only To Survive, But Thrive."
WASHINGTON, May 13, 1997 - In a statement released today, Mark J. Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commended Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), as well as Reps. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.) and Robert T. Matsui (D-Calif.), on their introduction of the Child Health Insurance and Lower Deficit Act of 1997 (CHILD). Stated Pelavin, "The CHILD Act will help us fulfill our obligation to provide for the most vulnerable among us and ensure that every child is able not only to survive, but to thrive."
The full text of Pelavin's statement follows:
On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 850 congregations throughout North America, we join the Children's Defense Fund and over 120 organizations in endorsing the Child Health Insurance and Lower Deficit Act. We commend Senators Kennedy and Hatch, as well as Representatives Johnson and Matsui, for introducing this vital legislation which will help us fulfill our sacred obligation to care for our society's most precious resource -- our children.
In Jewish tradition, we learn that God nurtured us, God's children, to good health before giving us the sacred Torah. So too should we ensure the good health of our nation's children so that they will be fit vessels for learning and growth. Yet all too often essential health care is reserved only for those children whose families can afford to purchase insurance, while those from families of more limited means are left without proper care. Tired and sick, these children are not fit to receive, much less to fulfill, God's commandments. By providing benefits to millions of children whose families are unable to afford private health coverage, the CHILD Act will help us fulfill our obligation to provide for the most vulnerable among us and ensure that every child is able not only to survive, but to thrive.
I also commend the sponsors of the CHILD Act for choosing to fund their proposal through an increase in the tax on cigarettes. The Torah teaches us to "choose life" and, according to the great Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides, obliges people to avoid things that are detrimental to the health and the body and to condition themselves to things that heal and fortify it. Cigarette smoking clearly violates this precept, destroying life and health and addicting millions of adults and, most tragically, millions of young people, to the drug nicotine. Taxing a toxin in order to sustain life sends a powerful message that preserving the health of our nation's children is of paramount importance.
Judaism teaches us that where there is a way to alleviate suffering, not to do so is to deny our responsibility to humankind. In supporting the CHILD Act, we take one step toward fulfilling this sacred responsibility, affirming the immeasurable value of each human life and recognizing that each of us, sick or well, rich or poor, is created in the image of God.
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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1800 Reform rabbis in more than 850 congregations throughout North America.