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JCRC UPDATE – MAY 24, 2013

JCRC UPDATE – MAY 24, 2013

[by Matt Goldberg, Director Jewish Community Relations Council]

In the last several weeks, I have received comments (mostly positive) from many people in the community about some of the positions we have taken on several domestic issues.

We started the year advocating for continuing government funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. Over 50 million people depend on this program and it is consistently under threat of cuts and/or elimination (I will talk about this shortly).

Another position we have taken is advocating for the recognition of civil marriage. We have brought this topic up at the JCPA Plenum, a national meeting of Jewish leadership in Washington, DC, and we advocate for it locally as well.

Another position we have taken recently is on gun violence, as we advocate for sensible gun laws including background checks, limits on magazines and types of weapons available for purchase, and further discussion on treating the mentally ill.

We take guidance from our national leadership, but always consider our positions as the Louisville Jewish Community Relations Council. We do NOT claim to speak on behalf of every single member of our community. Rather, we represent the consensus opinion of our community as our Council has input from all the synagogues, and agencies in town. As a JCRC, our advocacy consists of direct meetings with our elected leaders, writing letters to the editors of newspapers, and further asking community members to take action.

Currently, there are two pressing issues of importance to our community that require our awareness and all of us to take action.

As I mentioned earlier, the Jewish community has always been a strong backer of federal safety net programs, like Food Stamps. But a recent congressional proposal aims to cut vital funding for this most important program.

To raise awareness of this issue, several members of our community (including me) participated in the Food Stamp challenge, where we agreed to live on $31.50 for the week for food, which is the average weekly allotment under the current system. It was not easy and nutritious food like fruits and vegetables were cost prohibitive. ANY cuts to the food stamp program will further stretch the program and this meager allotment could be cut even more. As a Jewish community, both locally and nationally, we are concerned about immigration reform. Our position, based on humanitarian concerns, is that the undocumented people in this country need a pathway to citizenship, particularly those who were brought to this country when they were children. The current immigration bill before both houses of Congress addresses all of our concerns and we are urging Congress to support it and pass it. Our advocacy efforts are such that we will support any law or idea that furthers the interests of the Jewish community, and this could come from either end of the political spectrum.

So what can you do? WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!

Write an e-mail to your representatives asking them to support the laws that you find important, particularly Food Stamps and immigration, as there will be votes on them very soon. You will be surprised to learn that the offices of our officials are responsive to these types of letters. Even if you know which way your congressman or senator will vote on a particular issue, let them know how you feel.

If you would like to get more involved in issues like this, please feel free to contact me, 238-2707 or mgoldberg@jewishlouisville.org.

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