Jewish clergy lobby against social program spending cuts


WASHINGTON (JTA) – Jewish clergy joined an interfaith group that lobbied Congress to protect low-income Americans in “fiscal cliff” negotiations. 

“Jewish teachings demand that as individuals we are responsible for the greater collective, and as a community we are responsible for individuals,” said Rabbi Esther Lederman of Temple Micah in Washington D.C. , who rode the yellow bus along with other Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders Dec. 20.

President Obama and the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives are currently in negotiations to head off “sequestration,” congressionally mandated across the board cuts set to kick in on Jan. 1, as well as to renew a range of tax cuts due to lapse in the New Year.

The group first visited So Others May Eat (SOME,) a D.C. organization dedicated to helping the poor and homeless, where they heard testimonies from those who have benefitted from programs for the working poor.

The group then traveled to Capitol Hill where they were joined by Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, (D-Fla.), the Jewish chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, in their call for an equitable economic solution to the fiscal cliff. 

The faith leaders urged lawmakers not to cut benefits to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to end tax cuts for the top two percent of America’s wealthiest. 

Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a liberal Jewish social policy group, helped organize the event.

Washington Jewish Week contributed to this report.

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