Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
"I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession," said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. "There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is cost health delivery reform and insurance market reforms."
"I think it's a real mistake to try to jam through the total health insurance reform, health care reform plan that the public is either opposed to or of very, very passionate mixed minds about," Lieberman said.
In other words, according to Mr. Lieberman the approximately 50 million uninsured Americans who have been pleading for reform from every administration since Truman, can just wait until the US government has its financial house in order. Hard to imagine that day ever coming, but Mr. Lieberman is willing to stake the health of 50 million Americans on the pipe dream. I believe it is time that somebody of faith, (preferably of his faith) reminds Mr. Lieberman of the Jewish response to health care.
Throughout the Torah, God shows a special concern for the vulnerable and sick
and acts to lift them up. The Torah also teaches God’s command that society organize in such a way that all members have genuine access to the resources needed to live a dignified life, as well as provide for those who are unable to care for themselves. It is for this reason that Maimonides, a revered Jewish physician and scholar, listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city had to offer to its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23).
Almost all self-governing Jewish communities throughout history set up systems to ensure that all their citizens had access to health care. Doctors were required to reduce their rates for poor patients, and when that was not sufficient, communal subsidies were established.
In Judaism, we are taught that all humanity was created b’tzelem elohim – in the
divine image. God did not divide creation between the sick and the well; between
those who can afford health care and those who cannot; between those who are
entitled to health care and those who are not. Rather, God created us all, endowed us all with equal rights, and charged us with the responsibility to be partners in the act of healing.
It is antithetical for you as an observant Jew, Mr. Lieberman to espouse the idea that sick people can wait for health care. It has been continually demonstrated that this issue is as much a moral one as it is a financial one. Tell the parents who lined up in Los Angeles two weeks ago, waiting in queue for 8 days to procure dental care for their children, that they should wait a bit longer. Tell the cancer victim who was denied coverage by his insurance company based on some trivia and is now in bankruptcy and losing his home that he should wait a bit longer. Tell the family of four who is making less than $44,000 a year and almost 20% of that income goes towards health insurance that they should wait a bit longer. For shame, Mr. Lieberman.
We are taught in Jewish tradition that an individual human life is of infinite
value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations.
By assuring that everyone has access to health care, we are affirming the dignity of
each human being and enabling each person to regain health and enjoy the dignity of
Friday, 21 August 2009
This is actual amateur video of one of the tornados that touched down only a couple of kilometres from us yesterday evening. There is extensive damage in my city above Toronto and a state of emergency has been declared. Thank God the injuries in Vaughan are minor, but the property damage is in the millions. We living in the east side of the city were spared. Nature's wrath shows no mercy.
Monday, 17 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Our synagogue parking area has been playing host all spring and summer to a family of turkey vultures. At first it was just Mama and Papa swooping down to haunt and terrorize unsuspecting congregants, as they attempted to protect their nest in a dead hollow right in front of the office door. Several weeks ago, the fledglings hatched and the happy family stayed cloistered in the tree. Last week, Mom pushed her two babies from the nest in an effort to accelerate their flying learning curve. Unfortunately, as many of us parents can attest, the kids weren't quite ready to fly on their own, and have hence set up shop on the porch in front of the temple office. They hiss and regurgitate loudly whenever anybody comes near, but they are for the most part, harmless. That hasn't stopped the mom vulture from swooping and protecting, and it has forced the rescheduling and relocation of several synagogue evening meetings so that we don't accidentally collide with the young 'uns in the dark. I have thought since this whole nature/city interaction began, that there is something extraordinarily biblical about vultures circling a synagogue. Without sounding morbid or apocalyptic, it does bring a certain mortality concept into the discussion of organized religion, and whether or not we have truly captured the needs of our members. I will leave that open for discussion and invite you all to comment. In the meantime, enjoy my buddy the baby vulture. I think I will name him.......? Anyone?