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Statement of Mark J. Pelavin Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on Supporting the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 1998

September 9, 1998

On behalf of the 875 congregations of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the 1,800 Rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the 1.5 million Reform Jews across the nation, I am pleased to offer our full support of Senator Kennedy's vital efforts to raise the federal minimum wage. There is no single step we can take to better aid those making the difficult and often elusive journey from welfare to workplace, and no challenge which more urgently demands our attention.

Both the UAHC and the CCAR have a proud tradition of making real the biblical teaching "Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy" (Proverbs 31:9) by working to ensure that our nation's poor are treated with dignity, respect, and, most importantly, given a fair chance to escape the binds of poverty. Our tradition teaches that it is more valuable to help a person become self-supporting than it is to give that person a handout of food or money. By increasing the minimum wage, those in entry-level jobs will be less reliant on federal assistance programs (such as food stamps) and will be more self-sufficient.

We commend Senator Kennedy for his leadership on this issue, and commit ourselves to working with him and others who share our passion for justice to enact this much-needed legislation. A higher, fairer, minimum wage is what America's working poor need. It is what sound public policy dictates. It is what our values demand.

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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 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.





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