FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2021
WASHINGTON – In response to Senate and House passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), 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:
We welcome the passage of the American Rescue Plan, a much-needed emergency relief package that will help the U.S. address the public health crisis and mitigate the challenges that so many are facing. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken more than 500,000 American lives, exposed and exacerbated the deep-rooted structural racism of our health care system and our economy, and inflicted economic hardship on tens of millions of people.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Reform Jewish Movement has called for comprehensive relief that prioritizes vulnerable individuals and communities. This call echoes the wisdom of our Jewish tradition, which teaches us to “speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy” (Proverbs 31:9). We are taught that the preservation of life, pikuach nefesh, supersedes almost all considerations, and that we have an obligation to provide health care for our entire communities.
In this spirit, we commend the Biden Administration and Congress for making long-overdue investments that greatly reduce child poverty, support unemployed workers, lower costs and protect access to health care, and ramp up the nation’s vaccination campaign. Looking ahead, we urge our nation’s leaders to build on this historic achievement and ensure an equitable long-term recovery—one that includes increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, mitigating the worst effects of climate change, and advancing racial equity—that pulls us closer to our sacred aspirations for a world of wholeness, justice, and dignity for all people.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the social justice office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 850 congregations across North America encompass 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.