Civil Rights and Economic Justice (Union for Reform Judaism)

Reference: Union for Reform Judaism

May 1968

We reaffirm our commitment to the concept of human dignity. Poverty and discrimination are inextricably related. Racial justice is inseparable from economic justice. What is at stake in the struggle to achieve equality of treatment for the individual are the spiritual values of our civilization, the economic well-being of our nation and the moral leadership of America in a multi-racial world.

While urging positive enforcement and vigorous administration of civil rights laws, we recognize the need to proceed beyond mere legal guarantees to the assurance of real equality and economic opportunity for every American. This will require not only compliance with laws, but fresh initiatives by government as well as by individual citizens and voluntary organizations.

The elimination of poverty is a highly complex task. Many new and creative programs were initiated and developed in recent years, but because of the magnitude of the task and the experimental approach required, errors of judgment and setbacks were to be expected. The difficulties that have been experienced should help provide a more realistic understanding of the task before us. Rather than deter, they should stimulate us to greater effort and commitment.

This national commitment must recognize that the fight against poverty and discrimination requires a truly comprehensive, coordinated approach of all segments of society, public and private, and the extensive investment of much more financial resources. We take cognizance of various proposals calling for some form of minimum income maintenance and we urge immediate study of various proposals to arrive at an effective, equitable method of providing for all Americans an annual minimum income with dignity.

As Jews, we strive to perpetuate a tradition which recognizes that help to fellow human beings is a matter of right, not a matter of charity. We, therefore, welcome and support public programs designed to develop human and material resources to which all citizens are entitled in an enlightened society as a fulfillment of communal responsibility. We commend support of national, state and local programs which incorporate the following principles and are designed to facilitate their realization.

  1. Among the goals of our society should be the assurance of adequate food, clothing, housing, medical care and education for every family and individual. 
  2. Those goals can be achieved through programs of full employment at adequate wages for those able to work, adequate compensation and retaining opportunities for those who are involuntarily unemployed, and improved social security and other direct financial aid for those who are dependent or are incapable of work.

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