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March 31, 1995 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-03-31

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"In a program of Bach, Prokofieu, Chopin...the young man showed
impressive virtues: a big technique,
romantic feeling and a real empathy for the dreamier side
of the romantic piano repertory.
He is also a pianist evidently in love with the sheer sound of the piano."
- The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Performing the music of Chopin

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over the next five years, and deny
benefits to childless adults who
are not working — even if they
have been unsuccessfully seek-
ing employment. The hundreds
of thousands ofJews affected will
inevitably turn to an already-
overburdened Jewish communal
infrastructure for more help.
Or consider legal immigrants.
They will be hit hard by new reg-
ulations blocking benefits from a
host of programs from food
stamps to Supplemental Secu-
rity Income (SSI).
Thousands ofJews continue to
arrive from the former Soviet
Union every year, many of them
elderly parents of earlier immi-
grants. Because of their age, they
are less likely to become citizens,
less able to stand on their own
two feet.
The Jewish community has
given generously to assist these
new arrivals. But government as-
sistance has become a vital
thread in the lifeline that keeps
them above the poverty level —
barely. The Republican welfare
reform proposal, if approved by
the Senate, will force many of
these people below the poverty
line. Jewish organizations, again,
will be forced to make up the dif-
Also, Jewish children, mostly
in larger cities, often depend
heavily on the nutrition benefits
that are being cut, or handed over
to the states in "block grants,"
which provide a convenient cov-
er for wholesale funding reduc-
tions. For example, many Jewish
women benefit from prenatal
health programs.
But there is a broader dimen-
sion to the welfare reform debate,
In New York City alone, more one with long-range implications
than 150,000 Jews receive food for Jews as well. In Washington
stamps — single parents, the dis- today there is nothing less than
abled, the elderly, victims of eco- a fundamental redefinition of the
nomic reverses and recent role of government, an eviscera-
immigrants from the former So- ton of the idea that it is in every-
viet Union. one's interest to use government
No reliable statistics exist for as an instrument of compassion
other cities, but conservative es- and social stability.
Many Jews may have made it
timates suggest that up to a quay-
ter million Jews receive this without government "handouts,"
important benefit every year. Na- but have benefitted enormously
tionally, more Jews receive food from the social climate that pro-
stamps than any other federal en- duced and nurtured the welfare
titlement program except for infrastructure — despite its cost-
Medicaid. liness.
Some recipients may be de-The welfare system, as ineffi-
frauding the government. But a cient as it can seem, is a tangible
vast majority are ordinary peo- sign of a tolerant, compassionate
ple who have been left behind by society. It is one where the com-
a society with narrowing eco- mon good is not entirely over-
nomic horizons. whelmed by the needs of the
The Republican plan passed individual, where government ac-
last week would cut some $20 bil- tivism minimizes the social strife
lion from the food stamp program that inequality always breeds.

easoned Capitol Hill ob-
servers predict that much
of the welfare reform bill
passed by the House last
week will not survive scrutiny in
the Senate. Its members seem
less determined to pass vast out-
pourings of legislation as quick-
ly as possible, and never mind the
But in many ways, the anti-
welfare onslaught has already
done irreparable harm to the idea
that government compassion is
essential to the social stability on
which we all depend.
And that's _bad news for the
American Jewish community. It
has thrived in precisely the kind
of society that many political lead-
ers seem determined to disman-
On a practical level, the wel-
fare cutbacks — the first in a se-
ries, the Republicans promise —
will directly hurt hundreds of
thousands of Jews and millions
of other Americans.
The image of unwed black
teen-agers with babies still dom-
inates the public debate over wel-
fare. But in reality, the system
that is being torn down with such
relish by the GOP budget raiders
encompasses far more.

The welfare system,
as inefficient as it
can seem, is sign of
a tolerant,

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