FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2021
WASHINGTON – In response to President Biden’s announcement of the American Families Plan, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement institutions:
After months of extreme hardship caused by the pandemic and years of underinvestment, we welcome the significant investments proposed in the American Families Plan to improve access to education, health care, and economic security for workers and families across the United States. The plan seeks to address the scourge of economic inequity and uplift millions of poor and middle-class families—especially People of Color, who experience disproportionate obstacles to prosperity due to the systemic racism embedded in our nation for generations.
The comprehensive paid family and medical leave system outlined in the plan, as well as permanent improvements to child nutrition programs, will fill some of the glaring gaps in our social safety net that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated. Further, the long-overdue repeal of the cruel SNAP ban for people convicted of drug-related felonies—which perpetuates the cycle of poverty, incarceration, and racial injustice— will foster economic opportunity for returning citizens and their families, making our communities more whole. Additionally, providing for the permanent expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies that will lower health care premium costs and allow millions of people to gain coverage is an important first step towards ensuring that everyone can access quality, affordable health care. We hope to see Congress build on the proposals in the American Families Plan by permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit, making substantial investments in housing assistance, and ensuring that immigrant families can access all its provisions.
Judaism teaches that safeguarding economic security and supporting those in need are fundamental obligations of tzedek, or justice. The great sage and Torah scholar Rashi instructed us to uplift our neighbors in times of need and “strengthen [them] as [they] begin to fall,” preventing them from slipping into poverty in the first place. These words inspire our commitment to addressing the challenges faced by the millions of families struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads, manage medical expenses, care for family members, or enjoy equitable access to education that allows people to fulfill their potential. The American Families Plan is a vital step toward achieving those goals, and we urge Congress to move swiftly toward its consideration.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the social justice office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass approximately 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.RAC.org for more.