Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Welcomes Senate Passage of Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Saperstein: "The Senate has sent a clear message: Our diversity is our nation's greatest asset. Violent hate crimes are divisive and destructive — they will not be tolerated in any community."
Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800
WASHINGTON, July 23, 1999 - In response to the Senate's bipartisan vote to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 622), Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, applauded the Senate's action. The full text of Rabbi Saperstein's statement follows:
The passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act is an appropriate and meaningful tribute to the victims of hate crimes and their families. This legislation advances the ideal that all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability can live with a greater sense of security.
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is not simply feel-good legislation. It will make a real difference to Americans whose safety is continually threatened because of their identity. This is an important step in healing the wounds hate crimes have inflicted in our communities.
In the Jewish tradition, we are taught that God created humans b'tselem elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The stamp of the divine is found in the souls of all God's children. Regardless of context, violence against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental principle, moving us ever farther away from our goal of creating a perfect world.
We commend Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Arlen Specter (R-PA) for their leadership. We look forward to working with Members of the House for speedy passage of this necessary legislation.
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.