Resolution on Poverty in the United States

Whereas Jewish tradition commands us to “open your hand [to the poor person] and provide sufficient for the need” (Deut. 15:8), and reminds us that “just as God clothed the naked- so too must  you supply clothes for the naked [poor]” (Talmud B. Sotah 14a);

Whereas the Jewish community has long demonstrated a commitment to economic and social justice in the United States as exemplified by the involvement of hundreds of Conservative synagogues, schools and camps in social justice programs such as food banks, homeless shelters, home rebuilding projects and medical clinics;

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has been on record as advocating for the rights of the needy in “You Shall Strengthen the Poor: A Rabbinical Letter on the Poor” by Rabbi Elliot Dorff as well as several resolutions over the course of many years;

Whereas the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the poor of  New Orleans and the Gulf Coast disproportionately as many of them were already living on the margins and could not evacuate for lack of the means to do so, exposing the poverty which still exists in America and which has been ignored in a country that prides itself on lifting up the downtrodden;

Whereas between 2001 and 2004, the number of Americans in poverty jumped by more than four million, to 37 million people and the number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 6 million since 2000, bringing the number of uninsured to 46 million, all taking place during a period of economic recovery; and;

Whereas the United States Congress has already cut $40 billion in important social service programs projected to take place over the next 10 years - $4.9 billion from child support enforcement, $12.7 billion from student aid programs and $10.1 billion from Medicaid.

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Rabbinical Assembly speak out in their pulpits and in other appropriate venues against Unites States Federal budget cuts impacting the disenfranchised, the elderly, the poor, and the disabled; and

Be it further resolved that the leadership of the Rabbinical Assembly and its members communicate with members of the United States Congress and other federal, state and local officials to provide adequate funding for a range of social services including Medicaid, child care, education, and student aid.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2006