NEW YORK, June 7, 2001--The Reform Jewish Movement, which has opposed the tax cut package signed into law today, is urging all Reform Jews to donate to charity their $300 tax rebate checks. There are approximately 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America, including children.
Congregants at the nearly 900 Reform congregations across the United States will be asked to pool as much of their rebate checks as they are able into Tzedakah (charity) Collectives. While the donors together will decide where to send their contributions, the Reform movement will provide them with a comprehensive list of programs underfunded by the current federal budget, including such areas as education, health care and low-income housing.
"Our Jewish texts teach us that we will be judged by how we treat the least fortunate among us," said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC).
"This tax bill, which disproportionately benefits the wealthiest segment of society, will place in jeopardy the future of the Medicare trust fund, Social Security, and social service programs. It is precisely because this bill does not meet the needs of the less fortunate in our society that the Reform Movement has advocated against the tax-cut package since its inception," Yoffie said.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., said, "Jewish tradition teaches us not to be hard-hearted or tight-fisted to our needy neighbors."
"As Deuteronomy teaches (15:11), 'Open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land,'" Saperstein said. "In passing a $1.35 trillion tax cut, the Administration and members of the United States Congress decided instead to open the hands of the government to the wealthy and to forsake the needy in our land."
In a memo sent today to the nearly 900 affiliated Reform Jewish congregations across America, Yoffie noted that each individual will decide how much of their rebate they can donate, but the potential impact can be enormous. Rabbis Yoffie and Saperstein have pledged to donate their tax rebate checks to their congregations' Tzedakah Collectives.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, representing over 1.5 million Reform Jews in over 900 congregations. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programming, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.