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Reform Jewish Movement Urges House Members to Support the Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Pelavin: Ultimately, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act would increase the number of hate crimes indictments and prosecutions to more accurately reflect the number of hate crimes committed in the United States.


Contact:
Alexis Rice or Becca Nagorsky 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2003 - In a letter today, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), urged Members of the House of Representatives to cosponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2003 (H.R. 1343) noting, "This is a crucial civil rights bill that needs to move forward in order to meet the increasing need for responsible federal hate crimes policy."

The complete letter follows:

Dear Representatives:

On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose over 900 congregations encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), representing 1800 Reform rabbis, I write to urge you to become an original cosponsor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2003 (H.R. 1343 in the 107th Congress) that is being introduced by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). This is a crucial civil rights bill that needs to move forward in order to meet the increasing need for responsible federal hate crimes policy.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act would expand federal hate crime law to include sexual orientation, gender, and disability as protected classes. Moreover, it would remove the current requirement that the victim must be involved in a federally protected activity (voting, attending school, etc) in order for the federal government to take action. Ultimately, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act would increase the number of hate crimes indictments and prosecutions to more accurately reflect the number of hate crimes committed in the United States.

According to the FBI's 2001 Uniform Crime Reports, which is the most recent set of statistics, reported hate crimes have increased 20.7 percent between 2000 and 2001, while the overall crime rate only rose by a much less significant 2.1 percent. Additionally, hate crimes related to sexual orientation alone increased by 7.2 percent. Congress needs to act in order to strengthen our nation's response to this tragic increase in hate crimes.

Jewish tradition teaches that we are each created in the image of God (B'tzelem Elohim), and therefore each individual is inherently valuable. We are all uniquely capable of repairing the world. In this spirit, we embrace our diversity and demand equality for all.

This bill has strong bi-partisan support, in addition to the support of over 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic, and religious organizations. We urge you to join the majority of your colleagues and cosponsor this legislation now. To cosponsor, please call Keenan Keller with Rep. Conyers' Judiciary staff (5-6906) or Muffy Lewis with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (5-3931).

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

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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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