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Reform Jewish Movement Supports Efforts to Bring "Hate Crimes" Act to the Floor for a Vote

Contact: Alexis Rice or Matthew Soffer

202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2002- Responding to the efforts of to bring H.R. 1343, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to the floor for a vote, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

    Today, we applaud the efforts of the members of the House who urge the discharge of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Because the leadership has failed to schedule consideration of H.R. 1343, it has become evident that the discharge petition is the only way to bring this crucial legislation to the floor. The efforts of John Conyers and other members of the House to pursue the discharge of H.R. 1343 are efforts to pursue justice.

    As Jews, we cherish the biblical commandment found in Leviticus 19:17: "You shall not hate another in your heart." We seek to give life to that teaching by fighting against hate crimes directed against people because of who they are. Hate crimes are more than mere acts of hatred; they are more than murders, beatings, and assaults. They are a betrayal of the promise of America. They erode our national well-being. Those who commit these crimes do so fully intending to tear at the too-often frayed threads of diversity that bind us together and make us strong. We are commanded to "not stand idly by when your neighbor's blood is being shed" (Leviticus 19:16), and we cannot stand idly by while hate crimes committed upon federally unprotected victims occur rampantly throughout our country.

    We call on Congress not to adjourn without considering H.R. 1343. We urge members of the House to join Representative Conyers in the effort to make America a stronger, better, and safer nation.

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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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