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Renew Unemployment Insurance!

Due to inaction by Congress, federal unemployment benefits abruptly expired the week of January 1, 2014. Over 3 million jobless Americans are now without unemployment insurance (UI) and nearly another million Americans will lose unemployment insurance in the next three months. Failure to extend UI has plunged millions into poverty and comes as the unemployment rate is at an elevated 7%—and would likely rise as high as 14% if it included Americans who have stopped looking for work altogether or can only find part-time work.

We are told in Proverbs 31:9, to "speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy." Urge your Members of Congress to protect America’s unemployed and extend emergency unemployment benefits


 

Background

Federal unemployment insurance (UI) extends state unemployment insurance programs up to 47 weeks for millions of workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. However, the program, created in 2008 to assist Americans struggling during the recession, was only authorized to last one year and needs to be consistently renewed to keep aiding millions of Americans.

Unemployment benefits are critical in helping working families stay above the poverty line during economic downturns. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2012 alone, unemployment benefits kept 2.5 million Americans from falling into poverty—including 600,000 children.  But Congress allowed these crucial benefits to expire at the end of 2013. Already 3 million are without benefits and nearly 2 million more will be without benefits in 2014 if Congress does not reauthorize UI. Further, failure to renew the program through 2014 would result in an estimated 310,000 lost jobs, stifling economic growth.

Jewish Values

The Torah and Jewish tradition teach us that providing for those in need is not a matter of charity but an obligation. We learn in Deuteronomy that “If there is a needy person among you… do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your kin. Rather, you must open your hand and lend whatever is sufficient” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11). Judaism also teaches that the highest form of tzedakah is to help another person achieve self-sufficiency. We must help people support themselves by maintaining crucial assistance at this uncertain time.  Urge your Members of Congress to protect the vulnerable and support a yearlong extension of federal unemployment insurance.


 For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Melanie Fineman
 at 202.387.2800.

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