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Monday, May 30, 2016
Rockville Centre Op-Ed: What would God say?
Guest column: Louise Skolnik, DSW and Rabbi Marc A. Gruber

We are at the zenith of the 2012 presidential race, the height of the national political season. At this time every four years, we are given an opportunity to re-examine who we are as a country, what we value, and how well we fulfill the moral ideals and demands of our democracy.

Both contenders for the highest office in the land agree that these are times of serious economic challenges. This election is taking place as we are slowly emerging from a “great recession.” Yet during the presidential and vice-presidential debates and throughout the campaign, there has been a striking omission of discussion of those most in need — the 15 percent of Americans living below the poverty line. The reality of poverty on Long Island is even worse, because the standards are national, with no regional cost of living adjustment. The national poverty threshold for a family of four in 2012 is $23,050.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has articulated indifference to the poor and dismissive disdain for the dependency of the 47 percent of the population who do not pay federal income taxes. President Obama has expressed a commitment to economic justice, but with a primary emphasis on an undefined “middle class.” Their silence on the subject of poverty and the poor is particularly puzzling in view of both candidates’ resounding declarations of adherence to faiths that clearly profess concern for the vulnerable. Perhaps a reminder of this will reignite political commitment to the hungry and homeless among us.

So what are the teachings that form the basis for Judaism’s, Christianity’s and Islam’s perspectives on caring for and about the poor? What do these religions profess about our obligation to care for one another and about the consequences of societal indifference to those in need?


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