[by Matt Goldberg, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council]
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps) to be cut
As we have previously reported, this past year, our Louisville Jewish community participated in the Food Stamp Challenge in order to raise awareness about the food stamp program. Many of the 47 million people in this program rely primarily on the money that they receive through SNAP to provide sufficient food for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, this program appears headed for significant cuts.
The SNAP program’s funding comes from the larger farm bill that is currently being debated in Congress. The House of Representatives, in a surprise move, defeated a bill that would have drained $2.4 billion annually from this program. Some Congressmen voted against the bill because of these cuts, but many voted against it because the cuts did not go far enough.
They are unlikely to pass the Senate’s version of the bill, which limits the cuts to SNAP to $400 million annually (still an unfair cut). The current spending levels are likely to be extended until September 30, when they will again try and get a farm bill with cuts to SNAP passed.
It is more important than ever, right now, to be an advocate for this program. Talk to your friends and neighbors about it. Write letters to the editor. Contact your elected representatives (even President Obama).
Israel’s neighbors in turmoil, but boycotts of Israel endure
Israel’s neighborhood keeps getting more and more interesting. Syria, on Israel’s Northeast border, is embroiled in a bloody civil war, with almost 100,000 dead and no end in sight. In light of reports that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, the United States is now preparing to send weapons to the rebels, while Russia continues to send advanced weaponry to the Syrian regime.
Turkey recently came under fire for brutally suppressing street protests around the country leaving several people dead and many more wounded. In Egypt, the economy is on the verge of complete collapse, and massive protests are scheduled for June 30. The Egyptian army appears to be encouraging the protests and the regime might not survive.
And yet, there are those who believe that Israel is the source of all problems in the region.
Recently both Alicia Keys and The Pet Shop Boys came under heavy pressure to cancel their concerts in Israel because of Israel’s alleged human rights abuses and “apartheid” policies directed at the Palestinians. Thankfully both resisted (The Pet Shop Boys went so far as to categorically deny that Israel was guilty of these accusations).
There are practically no calls for artists and academics to boycott countries like China, Russia, or any other country in the Middle East…countries whose human rights records are far worse than anything Israel is accused of, much less guilty of.
Consider contacting artists and academics with plans on appearing in Israel. Alicia Keys received thousands of notes of support from pro-Israel supporters buttressing her decision to perform in Israel. It is important that the only voice they hear on appearing in Israel is not one that advocates for a boycott.
Immigration Bill to be voted on
Our JCRC has sent a letter to our senators, asking them to support the current immigration bill before Congress. This bill is a humane one that provides for both a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country, and a comprehensive plan to secure our borders. To see a copy of these letters or for talking points in writing your own letters, please check out this JCRC column at www.jewishlouisville.org.
Letter to the Boy Scouts
On June 13, the JCRC sent the following letter to the Boy Scouts.
Mr. Barry G. Oxley II
Boy Scouts of America
Dear Mr. Oxley:
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville commends the Boy Scouts of America for the difficult decision of reversing its policy banning openly gay boys despite passionate opposition and ultimatums of resignations and disbanding.
Our community has a proud history supporting the BSA and its mission. Troop 30, which is chartered by and meets at The Temple on Brownsboro Road, is one of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished troops. It is a source of community pride and would not be a success without the legions of scouts and volunteer leaders who have inspired generations of Louisville boys to do great things in our community.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville is disappointed, though, that openly gay leaders are still not welcome. This policy of prohibiting openly gay leaders deprives gay scouts of strong and respected role models – inhibiting their development and recognition as leaders and peers in the community. We believe the Boy Scouts of America should end all discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville looks forward to the Boy Scouts of America revisiting this issue in the future to send a clear message of inclusion within the Boy Scouts of America organization.
Ayala Golding, Chair
Jewish Community Relations Council
Jewish Community of Louisville, Inc.