The Torah and Jewish tradition explicitly command us to feed the hungry. “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I the Eternal am your God” (Leviticus 23:22). Deuteronomy 15:7-10 states, “If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren… you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” In the Talmud we are instructed that each Jewish community should establish a fund to provide food for the hungry; this is one of our most important responsibilities. The Talmud also reminds us that “just as God clothed the naked, so too must you supply clothes for the naked [poor]” (BT Sotah 14a); and informs us that work brings dignity to the worker, as the Talmud (Nedarim 49b) says, “Great is work, for it honors the workers.”
- US: According to the 2010 Federal census, 46.2 million Americans are living in poverty, the largest number ever on record, including 22 percent of all children. Social safety net programs such as food stamps (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit have been proven to prevent millions of Americans from falling below the poverty line. Because of the Federal deficit, many of these programs have been cut or are targeted for cuts.
- Canada: The Canadian definition of “low income” cutoff is twice that of the U.S. so the numbers in the two countries cannot be compared. However, 16.2 percent of Canadians live in poverty; a large number of these are children.
WHEREAS, a significant number of Americans and Canadians are living in poverty,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism calls upon sisterhoods to:
- Educate their members about the issues of hunger and encourage them to contact all government authorities to insure continued or reinstated benefits for a range of social services addressing hunger. [In the U.S. these include nutrition assistance (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Child Nutrition Act];
- Support Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger, at their functions;
- Link a project to collect for a food bank with a major sisterhood program;
- Provide opportunities to members to work in a food bank or other local organization that deals with hunger. Hold a Hunger Seder during the months of March or April; and
- Encourage their members to take the Food Stamp Challenge where they will personally spend only $31.50, the average food stamp benefit, for food in a week to experience the challenges of hunger. For information, click here.