Is what President Obama told non-Orthodox Jewish leaders on Tuesday.
The conference call was placed to members of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. All this in an effort to garner support for HR 3200.
(INN)Many American Jewish organizations have publicly offered words of support for U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare nationalization plans. However, some expressed serious reservations over certain aspects of the likely reforms. On Wednesday, Obama devoted a single conference call to non-Orthodox Jewish religious leaders before addressing over 140,000 other American religious leaders to promote his ideas on healthcare.There is a great Tradition in Judaism to provide care for those who are injured or ill. And for generations rabbis have asked their congregations to donate to charities that provide health care and hospitalization to the poor. Charities like Hadassah and Deborah have helped and is continuing to help millions of poor people through out the world, regardless of their ability to pay.
In his first conference call of the day, President Obama spoke with over 1,000 rabbis and lay leaders from the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. The phone discussion with Jewish leaders was officially orchestrated by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. It was promoted as a pre-Rosh Hashanah discussion, providing the rabbis with food for thought ahead of well-attended High Holiday sermons.
In the second phone conference, named "40 Minutes for Health Reform", President Obama spoke with clergy from various church, mosque and Jewish groups. He told the religious leaders, "I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth."
The U.S. leader said there was "a lot of misinformation" regarding his universal healthcare plans, with "some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness." Healthcare, Obama said, is a "a core ethical and moral obligation" that "goes to the heart of who we are as a people."
While the Reform movement's leading official body has offered support for the U.S. president's plans for healthcare, other Jewish religious groups - not invited to join Wednesday's Jewish-only phone call - have expressed reservations without rejecting nationalization in principle.
The Orthodox Union has not issued a statement of support or rejection of the Obama healthcare reform. However, in part, the financing of national healthcare is slated to draw on funds raised by reducing tax deductions from charitable contributions. In the past, the OU has staked out a position opposing changes to the tax benefits of donations to the non-profit sector.
Agudath Israel of America, a hareidi-religious body, decided to issue an explicit statement on the healthcare reform issue on Wednesday. The group praised universal health coverage, but warned about "challenges that health care reform may pose in the realm of religious rights."
In a letter to President Obama, Agudath Israel's Washington Office director and counsel, Rabbi Abba Cohen wrote that for Orthodox Jews "the preservation of life and the promotion of good health and well-being are religious imperatives." At the same time, he expressed concerns over "cost-benefit" analyses or judgments about "quality of life" that may cause treatment to be denied in opposition to religious convictions regarding these issues.
Furthermore, Rabbi Cohen noted, government fiat may force healthcare providers "to perform medical procedures they consider religiously or morally objectionable" or private sector companies "to provide coverage for such procedures." Agudath Israel asserts that the rights of the healthcare providers should be safeguarded in any national reform.
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But never before have I ever heard of a US President demanding that a rabbi alter their High Holy Day Sermons to push his agenda on their congregation. I do not believe that this is even permissible under Jewish Law (Halakha).
In the United States there is a tradition that the government should stay out of religious matters. That each person has a right to believe what they wish to, and the government cannot dictate what the tenets of each faith should be. President Obama is coming very close to crossing that line. Today he asks for their support, tomorrow he can be assigning a czar to write their sermons for them.
I ask all rabbis to ignore this plea from the President, write a sermon that is non-political, dealing with the days, the traditions, and our faith instead. It will be received a lot better than the political advertisement the President is proposing for you to give.