A Letter to the New Congress

To the Republican leadership of the new Congress:

Congratulations on winning a majority in both chambers of Congress. As Jewish Americans we are taught the foundational values that make for a good Jewish life. These principles, inherent to a righteous Jewish life, certainly translate to aspirations for the society in which we live.

It is from these values that we develop our list of policy priorities we ask you to consider.

Honoring parents: It’s a basic religious tent to honor your parents. When we speak of honoring parents, we speak of Social Security and Medicare benefits. By protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, we will ensure that the rights to healthcare and retirement security are preserved for our parents and future generations.

Caring for the sick and disabled: We are taught to give charity and care for those who cannot care for themselves. This is stated not just in Judaism, but also in Christianity and many other world religions. It is important to secure funding for services to help those in need so that they may have the opportunity to overcome hardship and poverty.

Job Creation and Unemployment Insurance: Unemployment insurance must be extended for the long-term unemployed. Although unemployment numbers are falling, many Americans need the assistance to pay basic bills until they find a new job. Please pass legislation to extend Unemployment Insurance to help those who are in need.

Equality: Judaism and many other religions advocate for equal respect and equal treatment under the law. A crucial part of equality is equal pay for women, paid maternity and sick leave for employees, and LGBT rights both in the workplace and when it comes to marriage equality. Please prioritize equality legislation that would protect the fundamental rights of all people.

Support of Israel: Anti-Semitism is still widespread across the world as we have recently hateful language in places like France. The US has no better friend than Israel and Israel is a beacon for democracy in the Middle East. We ask you to please continue to pass legislation that affirms the U.S.-Israeli relationship and helps Israel defend itself.

Religious freedom: As Jews, we consider freedom of religion a crucial issue ensuring our equality as Americans. The establishment clause in the first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Unfortunately, many politicians want to impose laws of their personal religions on all Americans regardless of their faith. The recent the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision allows the “religious liberties” of a private company to trump the religious liberty of individual employees.

Please consider these issues as you start the new session of Congress.