Commentary By Rabbi Jessica Oleon: I'm Ready To Invest In A Great City | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Commentary By Rabbi Jessica Oleon: I'm Ready To Invest In A Great City

Play associated audio
Rabbi Jessica Oleon is associate rabbi of Temple Sinai in Northwest D.C. and a board member of Jews United for Justice.
Rabbi Jessica Oleon
Rabbi Jessica Oleon is associate rabbi of Temple Sinai in Northwest D.C. and a board member of Jews United for Justice.

Although the economy has started to recover, the District continues to face budget shortfalls and has responded with deep cuts to public services. These cuts -- from libraries to childcare to homeless services to public safety -- jeopardize the community's ability to recover and to invest in a prosperous future.

In tight budgets, there are no easy answers. All choices here are painful ones. But we need to invest in D.C. to keep our city moving forward and keep families economically secure in uncertain times.

I share with you what I preached to my congregation: "When we have a choice, the burden should be shouldered by those who can carry it, and not by those who are struggling with everything they have to hold on to their homes, their families, their jobs and their dignity." We should balance this budget by raising taxes for those of us who earn a comfortable living, rather than by slashing programs for our most vulnerable citizens.

I was surprised and gratified by my congregation's enthusiastic response, and my anecdotal experience is backed-up by hard data. In a recent poll 85 percent of District residents, and 90 percent of residents with incomes over $100,000, support a small increase in the income tax rate for top-earners to help fund key services.

Spending other people's money is easy. What is hard is to say, "Here, take mine." But I am ready to invest more in this city -- in public schools, in the mental and physical health of residents, and in safe, permanent housing and access for everyone. If I am fortunate enough not to need many of these services myself, I greatly value being part of a community that still seeks to provide them for all.

The budget of the District of Columbia is the ultimate statement of our values, so let's be realistic about what makes us a unique community: We are overwhelmingly people who believe that government can and should be part of the solution, and that engaged citizenship is both our birthright and our responsibility.

The prophet Jeremiah taught, "Seek the welfare of your city, for in its wellbeing you will find your own." Jeremiah's message is something I think about every day, and am working hard to put at the center of the life of my congregation.

Like many, I am a transplant to the District. I came here for a job. But we all yearn for roots, a sense of belonging, of commitment and community. The District I live in now is better than the one I moved to because of the hard work and difficult choices made by residents committed to better schools, safer neighborhoods, and a strong and compassionate social weal. Even in a tough climate, we can continue to move from strength to strength.

I am ready to invest in this work. My community is ready to invest in this work. Take our money and together we will build a great city.

NPR

Wounded Bull-Runner: 'If You Run Long Enough, You Get Gored'

Bill Hillmann, a writer from Chicago, contributed to the book Fiesta: How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona. He was gored at this year's running of the bulls in that city, but says he plans to return.
NPR

What If The World Cup Were Awarded For Saving Trees And Drinking Soda?

We thought you'd get a kick out of seeing how the four teams in the final World Cup matches stack up in global health and development.
NPR

What Could $100 Million Buy You — Besides Campaign Ads In Kentucky?

Spending on the Kentucky Senate race might reach $100 million. So what else could that get you in the Bluegrass State? NPR's Tamara Keith finds out when she calls up some local business owners.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.