Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
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Nation’s Largest Jewish Organization Urges Senators to Support HRF and Fork Acts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Bethany Gotkin or Rachel Orkand, (202) 387-2800

Saperstein: "We cannot turn our backs on America's hungry. Our value of compassion, and our tradition of generosity compel us to act on behalf of those less fortunate. Again and again our biblical tradition demands that we share our resources, for they belong not to us, but to God."

WASHINGTON September 28, 2000- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center, sent a letter to U.S. Senators today, explaining the need for their support of the Hunger Relief Act (HRA) and the Food Stamp Outreach and Research for Kids Act (FORK).


The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Senator:

I write to you on behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1800 rabbis throughout the United States, to ask for your support of the Hunger Relief Act (H.R. 3192/S. 1805) and the Food Stamp Outreach and Research for Kids Act (H.R. 2738/S. 1800). These life-saving bills currently remain stalled in committees, and while we recognize that this is a hectic time in Congress and there are many vital pieces of legislation to be considered, we urge you to place HRA and FORK at the top of your priority list and bring both to the floor for a vote.

According to a recently released Food Research and Action Center report, newly published Census Bureau/U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that food stamp rolls have been declining. Unfortunately, this drop in food stamp participation has not been accompanied by a drop in hunger. Rather, demand for emergency food services at food pantries and other charitable organizations is rising dramatically. Despite the nation's prosperity, 31 million Americans - 12 million children and 19 million adults - still suffer from hunger or live on the brink of hunger. An overwhelming number of working parents struggle to feed their families, and as more low-income families move from welfare to work, the need for food assistance continuously increases. In more than one third of households receiving emergency food assistance, at least one person is employed and in almost half of these cases, that person is working full time.

There is no denying that hunger has far reaching implications for communities and individuals. Hunger squanders the opportunities of children who might have had bright academic futures; individuals who do not receive adequate nutrition perform poorly in school and present disciplinary difficulties. Among adults, hunger diminishes the ability to concentrate. And hunger takes a heavy physical toll, increasing health crises.

We cannot turn our backs on America's hungry. Our value of compassion, and our tradition of generosity, compel us to act on behalf of those less fortunate. Again and again our biblical tradition demands that we share our resources, for they belong not to us, but to God. "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvestÂ…you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger..." (Leviticus 19:9-10). Please do not allow the HRA and the FORK Act to become victims of politics and time constraint. They are too vital, too necessary to millions of men, women, and children nationwide, to be treated as such.

Respectfully,
/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.

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