Omnibus Resolution on Social Issues

We, members of the Rabbinical Assembly, are heirs to traditions that ingrain in us an “aggressive attitude toward improving life,” exemplified in Pirkei Avot 2:20-1 “Rabbi Tarfon taught: The day is short, the task is great. You are not obliged to finish the task, but neither are you free to neglect it.”* Over the years the Rabbinical Assembly has adopted stances via resolutions passed at annual conventions on a wide variety of social issues. 

Today we find that many of the issues which prompted these stands, which we believe reflect the best teachings of both of our received traditions, are once again facing severe tests.  We hereby affirm in the following a number of these positions.

*Elliot Dorff, To Do the Right and the Good, JPS, p. 31

WHEREAS the Torah teaches that all human beings are united through our being created בצלם, in the divine image; and

WHEREAS the Torah places responsibility on every Jew to care for the most vulnerable members of society such as the widow and orphan, the stranger, and the poor, and rabbinic law and ongoing Jewish communal praxis established institutions to administer public funds to this end, and

WHEREAS tax cuts have largely benefited a small number of wealthy Americans while placing a growing burden directly and indirectly on the poorest Americans; and

WHEREAS the founders of the United States enshrined protection of individual rights as the bedrock of American democracy; and

WHEREAS the careful separation between the government and religious institutions or initiatives has historically led to the enjoyment by all peoples, including the American Jewish community for the past 350 years, of equal protection from religious coercion.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirm its past resolutions and the principles enunciated in them, so as to ensure open access to societal supports for our most vulnerable members, preserve the freedoms we hold so dear, and safeguard both government and religious institutions from possible incursions; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirm the following resolutions pertaining to the economic well being and dignity of America’s most vulnerable citizens;

2003 Assistance to Needy Families
2003 Support of Aid to States
2002 Helping the Poor in a Recessionary Economy
2003 Health Care for the Poor
2000 Congressional Tax Cuts
2000 International Debt Relief
1999 Support for “And You Shall Strengthen Them”
1997 On Federal Budget and Deficit
1997 On Welfare Reform
1997 On Labor Rights
1996 For Increasing the Minimum Wage
1996 On the Responsibility of Governments and Corporations
1995 Resolution on Helping the Poor

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirm its resolution on The United States Patriot Act and its challenges to the exercise of free expression and “the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”;

2002 Civil Liberties

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirm its principles and resolutions maintaining the separation between government and religious bodies, the foundation upon which America stands;

2000 Prayer at Public School Sporting Events
1998 On Federal Voucher System for Private Schools
1996 On Prayer in Public Schools

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2005