Despite the day-to-day shifts in the news cycle that’s now focused on our loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Trump Administration’s and Republican-led Senate’s cynical and hypocritical (though legal) rush to choose and vote on her replacement, there are other critically important issues we can’t forget as the November election approaches. I’ve written about many of them on this Blog (list below) and there are a couple more that I’ll address in the coming weeks.
Over the summer following the police murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, demonstrations swelled across the country against our nation’s historic and systemic racism and for criminal justice and police reform. According to all polls, these issues are among the top concerns of a strong majority of Americans across party affiliation in this election. The approach to these issues taken by the Biden-Harris campaign vs Trump couldn’t be more different.
The following Jewish texts and values comport well with Biden-Harris policy priorities as opposed to the positions of Trump, as well as to fundamental aspirations articulated in the US Constitution that all people are created equal and deserving of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.“
“And God created the human being in God’s own image, in the Divine image did God create the human being, male and female did God create them.” –Genesis 1:27, Ancient Near East, mid-second millennium B.C.E.
“For the sake of peace among humankind, one should not say to another, “My [parents were] greater than yours”… to proclaim the greatness of the Holy Blessed One; for humans stamp many coins with one seal and they are all like one another; but the Sovereign of Sovereigns, the Holy Blessed One, has stamped every human with the seal of the first human being, yet not one of them are like another. Therefore everyone must say, “For my sake was the world created.” -Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5, Israel, 200 C.E.
“From where is it derived that a person who sees another drowning in a river, or being dragged away by a wild animal, or being attacked by bandits, is obligated to save [the victim]? The Torah states: “You shall not stand idly by the blood of another.” The Gemara answers: Yes, it is indeed so that this verse relates to the obligation to save one whose life is in danger.” -Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 73a, Babylon, 6th century C.E.
“At a time when the community is suffering, no one should say, ‘I will go home, eat, drink, and be at peace with myself.’” -Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 11a, Babylon, 6th century C.E.
“Your mission… is not limited by the walls of your house; beyond their limits you must assist with every particle of your strength wherever it is necessary to save the life, the property, or the happiness of a human being, to assist the enterprise of a fellow human being with your strength or fortune, … by the use of your wealth, your physical or intellectual strength, or your word, support the needy, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, console the mourning, heal the sick, care for the unprovided, advise those in need of counsel, teach the ignorant, reconcile those sundered by anger and quarrel — in a word, to be a blessing whenever and wherever you can.” -Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Nineteen Letters 12:3, Germany, 19th century C.E.
“You shall appoint magistrates and officials (police) for your tribes, in all the settlements that Adonai your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice.” -Deuteronomy 16:18, Israel, 7th century B.C.E.
“Be Vigilant to not terrorize the community [or] come down on them too hard. It is proved [that] we interpret this verse to say that a judge needs to be patient with the community.” -Tosafot to Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 7b, post-11th century C.E.
“The personality of Jewish police officers must be of the highest ethical order so that they themselves will serve as good example[s] of following law and living pure ethical lives. And they will merit to see a society based on the foundations of purity and divine sanctity …’” -Rabbi Haim David Halevi, Devar Hamishpat, Sanhedrin, Section 7, Israel, 20th century C.E.
[I’m grateful to “Rabbis for Biden” for gathering these texts.]
Biden-Harris Policy Platform
“Today, we need a comprehensive agenda for racial justice with ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities. Biden will achieve this by:
- Advancing the economic mobility of minority groups and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
- Expanding access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
- Making far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
- Strengthening America’s commitment to justice.
- Making the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for minorities.
- Addressing environmental justice.
In addition, Biden will reinvigorate community-oriented policing and expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices by:
- Investing $300 million to reinvigorate the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which will authorize funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach. As a condition of the grant, hiring of police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community.
- Establishing a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement.
- Funding initiatives to partner mental health and substance use disorder experts, social workers, and disability advocates with police departments to train police officers and respond to calls with police officers so individuals who should not be in the criminal justice system are diverted to treatment for addiction or mental health problems, or are provided with the housing or other social services they may need.
- Reversing the limitations put in place under President Trump and appointing Justice Department leadership who will prioritize the role of using pattern-or-practice investigations to strengthen our justice system and pushing for legislation to clarify that this pattern-or-practice investigation authority can also be used to address systemic misconduct by prosecutors’ offices.”
The following are links to the Biden-Harris Campaign’s policy positions on Justice, Black Americans, Asian-American-Pacific-Islanders, Latino Americans, and Native Americans:
I ask that you distribute these blogs to anyone interested in what the vast majority of liberal American Jews believe (according to all polls) especially those living in the states identified by the Democratic presidential campaign where the closest results will likely occur: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Especially distribute these blogs to young potential voters who historically turn out in smaller numbers relative to their percentage of the population and encourage everyone to vote early unless they are willing to stand in line at polling places despite the health risks.
Past Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket Blogs include the following:
JEWISH VALUES AND THE BIDEN-HARRIS TICKET – Blog #1
HEALTH CARE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #2
ECONOMIC JUSTICE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #3
THE ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #4
SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog#5
IMMIGRATION AND TREATMENT OF THE STRANGER – Jewish Values and the Biden-Harris Ticket – Blog #6