September 15, 2014 · 20 Elul

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Reform Jewish Movement Joins Social Security Debate
We are taught that the amelioration of poverty is an obligation not only for individuals but for society as a whole.


WASHINGTON, December 10, 1998- In response to the White House Conference on Social Security this week, the leadership of the Reform Jewish Movement voiced concerns about possible reforms to the Social Security system. While reforms to an aging system may be in order, proposals which jeopardize dependable benefits are not an appropriate solution.

In a letter to President Clinton, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center and Judge David Davidson, Chair of the Commission on Social Action declared, "Social Security has been successful in alleviating poverty amongst the old, disabled, and widowed because it has always provided guaranteed monthly benefits."

The full text of the letter follows:

"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, we are writing to commend your efforts to save Social Security and to urge you to oppose any plan that would threaten the dependability of Social Security's benefits."

"Our tradition teaches us that we must work toward the day when, "there shall be no needy among you" (Deut. 15:4). We are taught that the amelioration of poverty is an obligation not only for individuals but for society as a whole. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Central Conference of American Rabbis have, therefore, historically advocated for the maintenance of a federally-guaranteed "safety net" that would protect our nation's most vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and the disabled. For over sixty years, the Social Security System has been a central strand of this safety net."

"Social Security has been successful in alleviating poverty amongst the old, disabled, and widowed because it has always provided guaranteed monthly benefits. Beneficiaries can rest assured that they will not fall into poverty due to sudden unexpected decreases in their benefits. Changing Social Security in such a way that its benefits would become less dependable - by tying benefit levels to the rises and falls of the stock market, for example - would undermine the very aspect of social security that has made it so successful. As you conclude the White House conference on Social Security, we urge you to consider and support alternative plans that maintain the system's guaranteed monthly benefits."

"Thank you for your time and attention. We applaud your strong leadership on this issue and your efforts to help protect America's vulnerable."

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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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