Beliefnet

WASHINGTON (RNS) June 7 -- The president of the Union of American HebrewCongregations is calling on Reform Jews to donate to charity the moneythey will receive from the tax cut signed into law Thursday, June 7 byPresident Bush.

"Our Jewish texts teach us that we will be judged by how we treatthe least fortunate among us," said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president ofthe Reform Jewish organization, in a statement.

His organization was among the opponents of the tax cut package.

"This tax bill, which disproportionately benefits the wealthiestsegment of society, will place in jeopardy the future of the Medicaretrust fund, Social Security and social service programs," he said. "Itis precisely because this bill does not meet the needs of the lessfortunate in our society that the Reform Movement has advocated againstthe tax-cut package since its inception."

Yoffie sent a memo to the nearly 900 Reform Jewish congregations inAmerica asking them to form a Tzedakah (charity) Collective that can beused to pool the money donated by members to help the needy. The donorswill determine where their contributions will be sent, but Reformmovement leaders will provide congregations with a list of programs thatare underfunded in the budget.

"Each individual will need to decide how much of the rebate theywill donate to the collective," Yoffie wrote in his memo. "But in acongregation of 400 families, with an average gift of $300 per family,you could provide groceries for 50 families of three for an entire year.If you multiply that by 900 congregations, you will see the impact thatwe, as a movement, can have."

President Bush said he was glad to see the tax bill become areality. Depending on their marital status, many taxpaying householdsare scheduled to receive rebate checks of $300 to $600 by September.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 34 percent of Americansexpect to use the refund to pay bills, 30 percent plan to save or investthe money and 21 percent plan to spend it.

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