September 22, WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, joined the interfaith, multi-racial Poor People's Campaign A Call for Moral Revival to speak with Congress on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement ,and ask that they renew their commitment to pass bold legislation which protects the civil rights of all Americans.
His remarks in full are below:
"Good morning! I am Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the largest and most diverse denomination in Jewish life comprised of millions of Jewish people, proudly part of the interfaith, multi-racial Poor Peoples Campaign A National Call for Moral Revival.
For the Jewish community, these are the Yamim Ha-Noraim, The Days of Awe - the holiest days of the year in which we reflect, repent, and renew. We reflect on our deeds, repent for our transgressions, and renew our commitment to justice for all people and a world at peace. With Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year just days away, when we will gather in our congregations and ask the Holy One to forgive us for our sins, we call on our nation and our elected officials: Repent and renew.
Repent: Because we have failed our neighbors, our country's workers, and our children. The poverty rate is an abomination. Millions of Americans are working long hours for little pay, and are unable to afford basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare. The one-year enhanced child tax credit in the American Rescue Plan reduced child poverty by nearly half in 2021 and lifted millions out of poverty. Yet, at the beginning of this year, Congress failed those families, letting the enhanced child tax credit expire while wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living.
Members of Congress: Repent for failing our children, our families, and our workers. Renew your commitment and pass bold legislation to ensure that all people can put food on the table, have a roof over their heads, care for their family, and access the medical care they need.
And repent for failing our democracy. The civil rights and voting rights of many remain under grave threat in states and jurisdictions across the U.S. Repent for failing to enact federal legislation to protect these fundamental rights. Repent because your failure to act enables barriers to the ballot box that silences all our people, but especially silences the voices of marginalized communities whose power is stolen to inform decisions that directly impact their lives. Renew your commitment to urgently pass bold legislation to protect the freedom to vote
As the Days of Awe culminate Jews cry out in repentance and prayer, words taken from Lamentations: Hashiveinu Adonai Elecha Ve-Nashuva, Chadeish Yameinu Ke-kedem, Bring us back Oh God and we will return to you.
Renew us as you have in earlier times. May you, our elected officials reflect, repent and renew and in so doing, bring our nation and our people to be the community of inclusion, the economy of opportunity, the nation of justice, and the society of compassion we aspire to be.
Shana Tova - a good and just new year."