This Friday marks the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, which unites tens of thousands of religious congregations and over 200 religious organizations (including the RAC) of a variety of faiths to speak out and act faithfully for justice for children and their families. This weekend, religious congregations will hold special worship services, lead religious education programs as well as other congregational activities that will inspire people of faith to respond to children’s needs and commit to making this a better and safer world for all children. The RAC even helped create the program guide to accompany this important Shabbat event.
Jewish tradition places a great deal of value on the sanctity of children and their welfare. Qe are taught that “by the breath of children God sustains the world” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 119b). Since children are the inheritors of the future, we have a responsibility to honor children and to ensure that they will soon have the skills and the strength to be our future leaders. We acknowledge how important it is to ensure that children are well cared for and are healthy.
In July 2013, nearly three million children ate subsidized summer lunch on an average day, and the program only reached one in seven of the low-income children who rely on subsidized school lunch during the school year. In contrast to the 31 million children who received free or reduced school lunch during the school year, this divide illustrates how we need to provide lunch for students who rely on the structure of the school day for their midday meal. Food insecurity is nationwide and has major impacts on children – previous USDA studies have shown that children who live in food-insecure households have increased risks of developmental and health problems. Studies also link growing up in poverty to obesity later on in life, further demonstrating how important it is for us to ensure that children do not go hungry. The bipartisan Summer Meals Act of 2014 (S. 2527) would expand, strengthen, and protect access to the Summer Nutrition Programs, which provide federal funding to serve nutritious foods during the summer break. Tell your Senators to support the Summer Meals Act of 2014 now!
As we conclude Sukkot and look to celebrate Children’s Shabbat, think of how you can answer your faith tradition’s call to honor the children who, like all people, are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This weekend, over our shared days of rest, people of faith are uniting together around our joint goal of ensuring a better future for all children.