Resolution on Helping the Poor in a Recessionary Economy

WHEREAS Jewish tradition teaches “Open your hand [to the poor person] and provide sufficient for the need” (Deut. 15:8), and “Just as God clothed the naked…so too you must supply clothes for the naked [poor]” (Talmud B. Sotah 14a);” and

WHEREAS the burden of the current recession and the aftermath of Sept. 11 falls disproportionately on low income families; and

WHEREAS the safety net for people who have lost their jobs has deteriorated and government income supports are no longer available to many who lost their jobs and fell into poverty due to the current recession; and

WHEREAS the Federal government has promised major financial bail-outs to industries such as the airlines and insurance companies who have laid off thousands of workers; and

WHEREAS part-time workers and those employed within the last 6 months are ineligible for unemployment insurance in most states; and

WHEREAS the Director of the Office of Management and Budget has stated publicly that programs not related to defense, intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security should be cut or shelved; and

WHEREAS states are bound by balanced budget laws, and ¾ of the states already have or are planning to cut their budgets (the National Governors Association has estimated a total shortfall for all states for this fiscal year of $40-50 billion); and

WHEREAS the much anticipated surplus in the federal budget is now offset by this recession. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly support the expansion and

extension of unemployment benefits as the best way to help those who have lost their jobs during recent recession; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon private industry to extend generous severance packages to those employees laid off from their jobs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly call for a slowdown in the phase- in of Federal tax cuts enacted in August, 2001; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Rabbinical Assembly work to enable public debate, to determine the most appropriate way to share sacrifices that must be made in light of the new economic realities facing the United States.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, February, 2002